Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #366
Temporal and Probabilistic Discounting of Autism Service Delivery Options and Outcomes
Monday, May 28, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
305 (TCC)
Area: AUT/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jason M. Hirst (University of Kansas)
Discussant: Frank D. Buono (Southern Illinois University)

As the number of autism therapies and service provides continues to proliferate, caregivers must make complicated decisions concerning program placement and treatment options. Contemporary behavioral scientists have begun to rely on quantitative models of choice to assess complex decision making behaviors. Specifically, a growing body of research on the topic of discounting has suggested that complex choices such as those associated with autism become devalued as the delay, uncertainty, or effort association with the decision increases. In the area of autism service delivery, such devaluation of treatments or outcomes could result in caregivers opting for therapies or service providers guaranteeing immediate effects with little to no evidence supporting such claims; while not only wasting economic resources pursuing such treatments, these therapies may also be harmful to the health and well-being of the client. This symposium will explore translational approaches to the understanding of discounting and how it relates to treatment options and outcomes for caregivers of individuals with autism. All contributing laboratories have extensive experience and expertise in translational research, discounting, and autism services. A discussion of how behavior analysts might bridge the gap between basic research on discounting and autism service provision will be provided.

Keyword(s): Autism Services, Discounting, Social Validity, Treatment Outcomes
Wanting More But Taking Less: Discounting and the Paradox of Choice
BRENT KAPLAN (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: As new technologies and treatments become more numerous, practitioners and clients are faced with the burden of choosing among the increasing number of alternatives. Recent research suggests that there may be boundary conditions to humans’ preference for extensive number of choice options and that this “paradox of choice” may be explained within a discounting paradigm (Reed, DiGennaro Reed, Chok, & Brozyna, 2011). The current project sought to explain the paradox of choice within this framework. Specifically, we sampled approximately 100 undergraduate students using the Maximization Scale (a self-report Likert-type scale from the social psychology literature that captures decision making tendencies). From this sample, we identified the top (Maximizers; individuals who seek the most options when deliberating on a decision) and bottom (Satisficers; individuals who settle on "just enough" options to make a decision) quartiles. Both groups were then presented with three forms of a discounting assessment using a computer-based paradigm; delay, probability, and progressively increasing numbers of choice alternatives (i.e., choice overload). No differences in rates of discounting (k) were found in any forms of discounting between groups, calling into question whether self-report scales of choice overload are predictive of the behavioral aspect of deciding amongst extensive options.
Discounting of Autism Severity and the need for Physical Restraints
MARK R. DIXON (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The present paper will explore the application of the hypothetical delay choice money task to the more clinically applicable choices found within the contexts of parenting a child with autism and engaging in physical restraints with a child with autism. Adult females were asked a variety of questions regarding decisions they would make about the immediate onset of slight autism characteristics in their child or delayed more severe autism characteristics in their child. Delays and disability severity were altered over successive trials. In the second experiment, employees of residential or day programs for persons with autism were asked which duration of their day they would prefer to be engaged in physical restraints with aggressive clients. Specifically staff were provided the choice between a minimal portion of their day beginning today that would be spent in restraints with clients, or a larger portion of their day beginning at various delayed points in time. In both experiments typical hyperbolic discounting patterns emerged for most participants. These data suggest that the traditional choice money task used in many delay discounting research studies may be altered to define and address more clinically relevant behaviors and choices people make in their lives.

Discounting of Applied Behavior Analysis Based Treatment Outcomes by Caregivers of Children with Autism

NATHAN CALL (Marcus Autism Center), Andrea R. Reavis (Marcus Autism Center), Caitlin H. Delfs (Marcus Autism Center)

A variety of factors influence caregiver choices about the interventions they select for their dependents. The present study examined the manner in which delays to treatment outcomes may contribute to caregivers discounting the value of ABA-based interventions. Fifteen caregivers of individuals with autism served as participants. Each completed two delay discounting assessments based on procedures described by Dixon, Marley, and Jacobs (2003) and Odum, Madden, and Bickel (2002). One assessment evaluated the extent to which participants discounted delayed hypothetical monetary outcomes. The other assessment evaluated the extent to which participants discounted delayed outcomes of autism interventions for their child. Results showed that caregivers discounted the value of both types of delayed outcome (i.e., money and autism treatment), although the correlation between results of the two assessments were not significantly correlated. In addition, caregivers of children who exhibit severe problem behavior showed greater discounting of delayed treatment outcomes than did caregivers of children who did not. Results will be discussed in terms of implications for clinicians and researchers who conduct and develop behavior analytic interventions for individuals with autism.




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