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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Poster Session #263
DDA poster session 3
Sunday, May 27, 2012
7:00 PM–9:00 PM
Exhibit Hall 4AB (Convention Center)

Examining the Utility of Evaluating Multiple Treatment Components Within Completing Stimulus Assessments

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
JUSTIN BOYD (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Timothy Gray (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Ifat Bilitzer (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

A competing stimulus assessment (CSA; Piazza et al., 1998; Shore, Iwata, DeLeon, Kahng, & Smith, 1997) identifies stimuli that are associated with low levels of problem behavior and high levels of engagement with stimulus items. Following a standard CSA during which significant reductions in problem behavior or consistent levels of item engagement were not observed, 2 additional CSAs were conducted (e.g., Jennett, Jann, & Hagopian, in press) to evaluate the effects of additional treatment components (i.e., re-presentation of stimuli, and response blocking for self-injury and inappropriate tapping). Utilizing the treatment components and competing stimulus items identified via the CSAs, a formal treatment evaluation was conducted using an ABAB design. Results of this evaluation indicated that the treatment produced clinically significant reductions in both self-injury and inappropriate tapping. Furthermore, these reductions were maintained when the patient's parent was responsible for treatment implementation. This replication of Jennett et al. (in press) further demonstrates the utility of evaluating multiple treatment components within the context of the CSA; a practice that may expedite the design and evaluation of comprehensive treatment evaluations.


Effects of Reinforcers Identified in a Concurrent Operants on Low Preferred Activities in an Outpatient Clinic

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
BROOKE M. HOLLAND (University of Iowa), Kelly M. Schieltz (University Of Iowa), David P. Wacker (University of Iowa), Alyssa N. Suess (University of Iowa)

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of contingent social reinforcers on choice allocation towards low preferred activities. The participants were a 4 year old girl who engaged in self-injury and aggression, and an 8 year old boy who engaged in aggression, property destruction, and noncompliance. All procedures were conducted within a 90-min outpatient clinic by the participants mother and clinic staff. Interobserver agreement was assessed across 46% of sessions and averaged 99%. During Phase 1, a concurrent operants assessment was conducted to determine the relative value of positive reinforcers and showed that access to high preferred toys (Figure 1, left panel) and access to attention (Figure 2, left panel) were preferred by each participant, respectively. During Phase 2, a concurrent operants assessment was conducted to evaluate the effects of providing the reinforcers identified in Phase 1 on choice allocation towards low preferred activities. In Figure 1 (right panel), results showed that contingent access to high preferred toys was effective in changing the participants time allocation between activities. In Figure 2 (right panel), results showed that pairing contingent attention with access to high preferred toys was effective in changing the participants time allocation to a low preferred activity.


The Use of a Self-Restraint Preference Assessment on Restraint Fading

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
MOLLY GEMP (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Natalie Rolider (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Mandy M. Triggs (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Due to the severity of their self-injurious behavior (SIB), individuals with developmental disabilities are often required to wear restraint devices. Previous research has reported that self-injurious individuals may prefer their physical restraints (Pace, Iwata, Edwards, & McCosh, 1986) and has demonstrated that the opportunity to self-restrain can function as a reinforcer (Favell, McGimsey, & Jones, 1978). The current investigation assessed preference of self-restraint with a 13-year-old boy admitted to an inpatient unit for the assessment and treatment of SIB maintained by automatic (sensory) reinforcement and social attention. Preference for self-restraint in the form of hand-holding was observed and subsequently used as a reinforcer for appropriate behavior as part of treatment for problem behavior in a leisure context. As the duration of reinforcement was being systematically thinned, a 3 lb weighted blanket was introduced as an alternative to self-restraint. Results support previous literature suggesting that self-injurious individuals may prefer physical restraints. The current investigation also offers a more quantitative measure of fading restraint thorough the use of a weighted blanket.


The Use of Sensory Items and Token Economy on On-task Behavior of Two Students With Autism

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
CLARE TERESE SYKORA (Gonzaga University), Anjali Barretto (Gonzaga University), Kimberly P. Weber (Gonzaga University)

The study examined the use of sensory items and a token economy on the effects of on-task behavior of 2 elementary aged students with autism. The participants, Chase and Bonnie, were given a series of preference assessments prior to the intervention evaluation to determine their preferred items. A yoga ball and weighted vests, appropriate for each participant, along with a token economy were used to examine the effects each had on the participants'on-task behavior during daily circle time in their self-contained special education classroom. Results showed an increase in on-task behavior for Bonnie when using the token economy and were inconclusive for Chase using sensory items and/or token economy. IOA was collected for a minimum of 33% of sessions across each phase. For Chase, mean IOA was 92% and for Bonnie it was 93%.


Increasing Parental Adherence to Extinction by Providing Parents With an Alternative Activity

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
IFAT BILITZER (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Lauren Lloyd Withhart (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Treatment integrity (i.e., accurate delivery of treatment by a clinician and/or caregiver) and adherence to treatment (consistent implementation of the treatment) are factors that can influence the success of behavioral interventions. Although extinction is frequently recommended as a component of behavior plans, adherence to extinction is often low (e.g., Allan & Warzak, 2000; Cooper et al., 2007; Tarbox, 2000). The current study offered a practical approach to assist 1 mother in implementing extinction more consistently. First, a preferred activity was identified via the mother's responses to a structured questionnaire. Next, the mother was trained to use this activity (watching television) as a distractor when her son engaged in problem behavior. Following training, levels of correct implementation of extinction increased from baseline levels, and were associated with high levels of activity engagement and low levels of child problem behavior. Levels of treatment integrity remained high for the rest of the study. These results suggest that providing an alternative activity to caregivers may increase the accuracy and consistency of implementation of extinction. Results may be beneficial for clinicians seeking to train caregivers to adhere to extinction procedures more consistently.


Motivation Gradients During Response-Independent and Response-Dependent Access to Preferred Stimuli

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
KASEY STEPHENSON (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Cy Nadler (Munroe Meyer Institute), Michael E. Kelley (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Previous research on acquisition and maintenance of alternative behavior suggests that establishing and maintaining high levels of motivation is critical to treatment success. In the current study, we systematically replicated and extended previous research on both acquisition and maintenance of alternative behavior over the course of a parametric manipulation of motivation. Results suggested that (1) sessions with a high proportion of response-independent to response-dependent responding favored little to no responding and interfered with acquisition (like in Goh, Iwata,& DeLeon, 2000) and (2) sessions with a low proportion of response-independent to response-dependent responding favored higher levels of responding. Results extend those of Kelley, Shillingsburg, and Bowen by showing a motivation gradient and support the motivational framework proposed by Michael (1982, 1993, 2000).

7. Discriminated Functional Communication for Attention: Evaluating Fixed and Random Schedules of Availability of Reinforcement
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
KAITLIN BALKA (Kennedy Krieger Institute), SungWoo Kahng (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Nicole Lynn Hausman (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Erin Ann Schaller (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: The current study extends previous research on discriminated functional communication training (DFC), in which the participant is taught to discriminate whether attention is available based on naturally occurring, overt behavior exhibited by the caregiver (Kuhn, Chirighin, & Zelenka, 2010; Leon, Hausman, Kahng, & Becraft, 2010). Whereas in previous studies, discrimination training occurred during fixed periods of reinforcer availability and unavailability (e.g., 5 min available followed by 5 min unavailable), the purpose of this study was to examine discrimination training during which the availability of reinforcement varied. In the current study, requests for attention during therapists’ non-busy activities were differentially reinforced for a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with Down syndrome. Both fixed and variable schedules of availability were evaluated. During the fixed schedule, attention was available for 5 min and unavailable for 5 min. During the variable schedule, the duration of caregiver busy and non-busy activities varied across sessions. Results demonstrated that the participant could discriminate based on the caregiver activity when attention was available regardless of the duration of the caregiver busy and non-busy activities. Additionally, treatment generalization was conducted and discrimination was found across a number of settings, experimenters, and situations.

Self-control Responding in Children With Developmental Delays: Analog Assessment of Subjective Value of High and Low Preferred Stimuli

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
DANA M. GADAIRE (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Mark W. Steege (University of Southern Maine), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Previous research suggests that both non-human animals and humans are likely to engage in impulsive responding when provided with opportunities to choose between responses that are correlated with smaller, sooner consequences and larger, later consequences. Much of the research that demonstrates this phenomenon has been conducted in analog settings and/or with hypothetical choices, and the generality of those findings remains unknown. In the current study, we assessed impulsive responding in four children with developmental disabilities by evaluating the conditions under which preferences might shift in the context of actual choice scenarios for established reinforcers. First, we demonstrated that (a) highly preferred (HP) and relatively less preferred (LP) stimuli both maintained task selection and (b) responding was allocated toward the task associated with the more highly preferred stimulus when both stimuli were concurrently available over various delay intervals 0 s to 60 s in Experiment 1) and 60 s to 240 s in Experiment 2) for the HP stimulus. In Experiment 3, we assessed the relationship between choice responding and the presentation for the concurrent choice arrangement by manipulating whether the choice opportunity was presented in the initial or terminal link of the chain. Results showed that the participants engaged in self-control behavior and that the presentation of a delay prior to receipt of the task was associated with greater shifts in preference for three out of four participants.

9. Using Eye Gaze to Identify Reinforcers for an Individual With Severe Multiple Disabilities
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
LINSEY M. SABIELNY (The Ohio State University), Helen I. Cannella-Malone (The Ohio State University), Christopher A. Tullis (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to replicate Fleming et al. (2010), examining the use of eye gaze in identifying reinforcing stimuli for an individual with severe multiple disabilities, and to measure total duration of the assessment. The Reinforcer Assessment of Individuals with Severe Disabilities (RAISD; Fisher, Piazza, Bowman, & Amari, 1996) was used to identify items, and then preference was measured in a paired-choice assessment using duration of eye gaze to determine stimulus selection. A subsequent reinforcer assessment used a reversal design to test the reinforcing effects of both the high and low preference stimuli. The results replicated Fleming et al. (2010), indicating that using eye gaze as a selection method successfully identified a reinforcing stimulus. The present study extends the current literature by reporting total duration of the assessment at a brief 2.5 hr.

An Evaluation of an Antecedent-Based Intervention to Treat Elopement

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
ERIKA MYLES (California State University, Los Angeles), Carlos Santos (Center for Behavior Analysis and Language Development), Robert-Ryan S. Pabico (Center for Behavior Analysis and Language Development), Daniel B. Shabani (California State University, Los Angeles)

Elopement commonly involves individuals running off and occasionally results in those who run off coming into contact with dangerous situations. Treatments for elopement have included both antecedent and consequence based interventions such as noncontingent and differential reinforcement procedures, manipulation of preferences, as well as extinction. Extinction, as a behavior management procedure, is very effective, however sometimes difficult to implement. As a result, antecedent-based interventions that limit the need for extinction are sometimes more practical. In situations where escape is the maintaining reinforcer for elopement, demand fading can sometimes be an effective intervention. Demand fading involves gradually increasing the difficulty or rate of demands such that escape no longer functions as a reinforcer. In the current investigation, an alternating treatment design was used to evaluate the effects of a demand fading procedure on elopement with a 13-year-old male diagnosed with autism. During baseline, demands were provided randomly at a relatively slow pace. During treatment, demands were presented more rapidly such that the overall duration of instruction was decreased. Results indicated that with the manipulation of the rate of demands, elopement decreased. Implications of demand fading a treatment for elopement in instructional settings will be discussed.

11. An Examination of Preference Stability for Edible and Leisure Items
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
CHRISTOPHER A. TULLIS (The Ohio State University), Helen I. Cannella-Malone (The Ohio State University), Linsey M. Sabielny (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: The stability of preference for leisure and edible items was measured over a six-month period with five participants diagnosed with moderate to intensive intellectual and developmental disabilities to determine if preference for stimuli remained stable.. Six edible and six leisure items were identified via Reinforcer Assessment for Individuals with Severe Disabilities (RAISD; Piazza, Fisher, Hagopian, Bowman, & Toole, 1996) for inclusion in subsequent direct assessments. Every two weeks a multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessment (MSWO; DeLeon, & Iwata, 1996) was implemented for approximately 6 months. Data indicated that high-preferred and low-preferred items remained stable over time, but selection of moderately preferred items was variable. These results replicate the findings of previous research (e.g., Zhou, Iwata, Goff, & Shore, 2001), and extend previous studies by analyzing responding in relation to moderately preferred items.
12. Use of Initial and Follow-up Error Correction Procedures in Discrete Trial Teaching
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
VICTORIA HOCH (University of Nevada, Reno), Melissa Nosik (University of Nevada, Reno), W. Larry Williams (University of Nevada,Reno), Benjamin N. Witts (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Within interventions for skill acquisition there are two goals; producing increases in correct responding and decreasing incorrect responses. Typical methods include error correction procedures (ECP) that result in multiple repetitions of the incorrect response before assistance is provided in the form of an opportunity to demonstrate success post-error. While research has focused on positive reinforcement as a tool for increasing correct responses; much less research has been conducted on responding to errors. It is essential to continue efforts in determining how to respond to errors as a facilitator skill acquisition. In this study two ECPs will be evaluated: an Initial Error Correction procedure and a Follow-up Error Correction procedure for their efficacy on reducing the number of errors. Both the Initial and Follow-up ECP work to provide remediation where necessary, while simultaneously preventing task-escape. This is accomplished through increasing response effort with the requirement of at least one independent correct response to terminate the procedure. Research in responding to errors in acquisition is critical in extending our knowledge as a field and may yield methods of increasing correct responding. The rationale for this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a sequence of initial and follow-up error correction procedures in comparison to a typical error correction sequence for improving skill acquisition in discrete trial teaching.

Comparison of Preference Assessment Outcomes Using Two Response Topographies

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
CHRISTOPHER A AGHJAYAN (Evergreen Center), Jennifer M. Silber (Evergreen Center), Robert K. Ross (BEACON Services)

Identifying effective reinforcers for a particular individual is critical for success in increasing behavior and learning. One method of identifying reinforcers is stimulus preference assessments. There is a gap in the literature with respect to the response topography used when selecting stimuli. The present study examined preferences expressed in the multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) assessment method when the response selection topography was either verbal or motor. For thefour students with developmental disabilities who participated in this study, results showed that response selection topography did not affect the identification of the most preferred item. A subsequent assessment of the reinforcing effects of the identified most preferred items was then conducted across2 tasks,1 verbal and1 motor, to confirm that the item identified as most preferred in the MSWO functioned as an effective reinforcer. For the verbal task the item identified as most preferred produced the highest rate of responding for three participants. For the motor task the item identified as most preferred produced the highest rate of responding for 2 participants. Implications of these results and limitations of the study will be discussed.

14. 3Rs Human Rights Project: Behavioral Indicators of Organizational Support for a Right-Based Service Approach
Area: DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
LAURA E. MULLINS (University of Guelph), Frances Owen (Brock University), Dorothy Griffiths (Brock University)
Abstract: This presentation will review the behavioural indicators supporting the 3Rs: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility Human Rights Program within a Community Living Organization that supports persons who have intellectual disabilities. The 3Rs Project promotes rights awareness in individuals with intellectual disabilities, their caregivers, and family members. To be effective, the shift to a rights-based service approach must include support from the whole organization and its processes. This research evaluated the impact of the 3Rs initiative on the work behaviour of staff and managers. Behavioural interviews were conducted with full-time staff and managers. A thematic analysis revealed the nature of changes in work behaviour following the adoption of a rights-based service delivery system. The results were triangulated through surveys of a larger group of staff and managers. Systemic barriers to change were also explored. The results describe how the organization has implemented the rights-based philosophy in it policies, procedures. and in the daily integration of staff and person supported by the Association. Insights from the examination of the organizational impact of the 3Rs Project on this organization may assist other community organizations that are engaging in the implementation and support of similar rights-based approaches to community service delivery.

Errorless Versus Trial and Error Discrete Trial Learning: The Winner Is?

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
JANET GOOSSENS (Evergreen center), Gordon A. DeFalco (Evergreen Center), Jennifer M. Silber (Evergreen Center)

This study compared an errorless learning procedure to a trial-and-error procedure for 2 children with developmental disabilities. Errorless learning refers to a technique that eliminates or minimizes responding to incorrect choices whereas trial and error exposes the student to errors followed by a correction procedure. Two students were taught to point to a letter when verbally presented with the sound of that letter during discrete trial sessions. Using an alternating treatment design, the number of trials to mastery was compared across conditions. The type of errorless learning conducted in this study consisted of response blocking, so that the students were not physically allowed to perform an incorrect response. The trial-and-error technique allowed the student to independently respond to the stimulus, but if they responded incorrectly they were verbally corrected ("No") and physically prompted to the correct response. Although both teaching techniques led to improvement of correct responding, for both students the errorless technique was shown to lead to faster acquisition of correct responding.


Restraint Reduction for Persons With Intellectual Disabilities Using an OBM Approach

Area: DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
DEBORAH L. GROSSETT (The Center), Don E. Williams (Private Practice)

We used an organizational behavior management (OBM) approach to increase behavior intervention plans and decrease the use of mechanical restraint. First, recipients were tracked as a member of the priority group if they engaged in frequent self-injurious behavior or physical aggression toward others and/or if they had been placed in mechanical restraint as a result of the problem behaviors. Second, a behavior data monitoring and feedback system was put in place. Third, organizational contingencies for the use of mechanical restraint or the occurrence of frequent self-injurious behavior or physical aggression toward others were initiated. Over the course of 17 months, behavior intervention plans were more than doubled to 124 and mechanical restraints decreased by almost 80%. This study represents the first to use an organizational behavior management (OBM) to reduce restraint with people who have intellectual disabilities.


Delaying Access to a Functional Reinforcer Using Tokens Withina Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior Procedure

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
ALISON R. HUSS (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Tracy L. Kettering (Bancroft), Ashley Lynn Lajiness (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Susan K. Malmquist (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Nicole Coulardot (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)

Problem behavior is commonly exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities. With a functional analysis, the variables that maintain problem behavior can be identified, and a function-based treatment can be utilized to decrease various problem behaviors. In this study a differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) procedure with extinction was used to decrease the problem behavior of two adults with developmental disabilities. Tokens were used as conditioned reinforcers, delivered on a DRO 30 s schedule during 10 min sessions and exchanged for the functional reinforcer at the end of each session. Results showed that the problem behavior remained low when tokens were delivered on the DRO schedule, and suggest that tokens can be an effective way to delay access to the functional reinforcer.


The Use of Punishment to Address Problem Behaviors in an Applied Setting.

Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
LISA DAVIES (The Ivymount School, Inc.), Sara L. Kuperstein (The Ivymount School, Inc.), Stacey M. McIntyre (The Ivymount School, Inc.)

Punishment is rarely part of a treatment package for students with disabilities in classrooms or similar applied settings. Although there are legal and ethical implications, staff must still help students access curriculum. In this study, a treatment package with a fixed-time schedule of reinforcement (FT) and differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior (DRA) failed to reduce spitting and loud vocalizations to low rates for a 12-year-old student with developmental disabilities in a self-contained special education classroom. Staff could not control for peer reinforcement of these behaviors, so a punishment component was added to the package. Rates of spitting and loud vocalizations reduced by 80% and 58%, respectively, compared to pretreatment rates. Mean reliability for spitting was calculated at 93% across eight observations, ranging from 71% to 100%. Reliability for loud vocalizations across four observations ranged from 88% to 100%, with a mean score of 97%. Staff ensured the least restrictive technique by using a stimulus avoidance assessment, a varied punisher presentation, and the minimum number of punishers needed to effectively reduce problem behavior. The results suggest a procedure for ethically implementing punishment in an applied setting to achieve low rates of problem behavior and maintain them across school years.

19. A Preliminary Analysis of a Methodology to Determine Preferences for Variations of Play
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
SONAM G. DUBAL (Bancroft), Sara Cox (Bancroft), LaToya Kinard (Bancroft), Adam Peyton (Bancroft), Tracy L. Kettering (Bancroft), Frances A. Perrin (Bancroft)
Abstract: A variety of assessment formats have been evaluated to determine individual preferences for stimuli or activities. Preference assessment formats can range from the presentation of a single stimulus (Pace et al. 1985), the presentation of two stimuli in a concurrent operant arrangement (e.g., paired-choice preference assessment; Fisher et al. 1992), or the presentation of multiple stimuli in an array (e.g., multiple stimulus without replacement; DeLeon & Iwata, 1996). Although assessments typically involve the presentation of tangible or edible stimuli, preference assessments have also been used to evaluate preference for different activities, including vocational tasks (Lattimore, Parsons, & Reid, 2002). It likely that preferences for different types of play (e.g., parallel play, physical play, imaginary play) also vary across individuals and should be assessed on an individual basis. Preference for play activities, however, may be difficult to evaluate with current preference assessment methodologies. The current study evaluated different assessment formats and dependent variables to determine preference for variations of play in children with developmental disabilities. Responding across individuals suggested that the method of assessment and the measures of preference (e.g., interaction, positive affect, choice) influenced the results of the assessment. Data provide preliminary support for a concurrent choice procedure to identify preferred types of play activities.



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