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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #24
Basic and Applied Research on the Application of Differential Reinforcement Procedures to Treat Destructive Behavior
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Stevens 3
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michael E. Kelley (University of Southern Maine)
Discussant: Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: A large body of research has shown that differential reinforcement (DR) procedures have utility for reducing destructive behavior in applied settings. This symposium will present data that exemplify current translational research in the development and application of DR and functional communication training (FCT) procedures. Specifically, these presentations each demonstrate methods for examining the variables that contribute to the establishment and generalization of DR procedures. The first study involved a basic experimental analysis conducted with non-human subjects to examine factors that influence the development and efficacy of functional communication training (FCT) contingencies that do not have an extinction component. The second study was conducted in an applied context and examined the acquisition of yes/no responding within the context of an FCT intervention for destructive behavior. The third study evaluated the thinning of a DR procedure to promote generalization of a treatment for aggression to an individual’s classroom, during which the DR schedule was increased from 20 s to 1166 s. These studies will be discussed in terms of the convergence of basic and applied research to examine factors related to successful DR treatment development for destructive behavior disorders.
Preliminary Evaluation of an Animal Model for Studying FCT Without Extinction.
JENNIFER LANIER (University of Houston, Clear Lake), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston, Clear Lake), John Pugh (University of Houston, Clear Lake), Lynda Dodgen (University of Houston, Clear Lake)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is most effective when reinforcement is withheld for problem behavior. However, extinction is not always practical or possible in applied settings. Further research is needed to identify strategies that will increase the effectiveness of FCT in the absence of extinction. When caregivers are unable or unwilling to withhold reinforcement for problem behavior, treatment with FCT establishes a concurrent operant reinforcement schedule that involves topographically different behaviors. The main purpose of this study was to evaluate an animal model for studying factors that may lead to improved treatments under this arrangement. Six rats were taught to press a lever (designated as the “communication response”) or pull a chain (designated as “problem behavior”) to receive food reinforcement. All but one rat allocated the majority of responses to the lever press when both were available concurrently. The schedule of reinforcement for the lever press then was gradually thinned to identify the point at which preference would switch to the chain pull. In the final phase, the effect of a brief time-out contingent on chain pulls was evaluated. Results indicate that this laboratory model would be useful for generating knowledge that directly informs clinical practice.
Teaching Individuals with Autism to Attend to “Yes” and “No” Responses as Discriminative Stimuli.
DAVID P. JARMOLOWICZ (West Virginia University), David E. Kuhn (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Recent research has demonstrated that functional communication can be brought under stimulus control in a multiple schedule arrangement (e.g., Hagopian, et al., 2005; Hanley, et al., 2001). Responses of “yes” and “no” can function as schedule specifying stimuli under certain conditions. That is, a response of “yes” following a mand should result in the individual being allowed to access the specified reinforcer. Conversely, a “no” response would be associated with not allowing access. Individuals with intellectual disabilities may not respond in accordance with those schedules due to a history of accessing reinforcers in the presence of both SDs and S?s. In the current examination, two children diagnosed with autism were taught to respond appropriately following staff saying “yes” or “no” in response to him/her emitting an observing response (i.e., pointing). During training, observing behaviors were initially followed by a dense ratio of “yes” (FR1) to “no” (EXT) responses. Subsequently, this ratio was adjusted and the participants were taught to respond appropriately in the presence of independent concurrent schedules for stimuli of varying preferences. Ultimately, these schedule specifying stimuli were integrated into functional communication-based interventions. Reliability data were collected for at least one third of sessions and averaged above 80%.
Delay Fading and Generalization of Differential Reinforcement Treatments for Destructive Behavior.
KASEY STEPHENSON (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Henry S. Roane (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Robert-Ryan S. Pabico (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) is a procedure that has been successfully used to increase the amount of time that individuals do not engage in problem behavior. Although effective, short-duration DRO intervals might be difficult to implement outside of controlled settings. In such cases DRO schedule thinning is an appropriate and practical procedure. In the current study, we describe the development of a resetting DRO to decrease one participant’s aggression. After the initial DRO was successful at reducing aggression, we implemented a multiple schedule procedure to thin the initial DRO interval from 20 s to 1166 s in a controlled setting. Subsequently, the DRO was thinned in the participant’s classroom setting from an initial 30-s interval to a terminal 1166-s interval. In both settings, clinically significant decreases (averaging 80% or greater) in problem behavior were observed, as compared to baseline levels and baseline probes. Reliability data were collected on at least 30% of sessions and averaged over 90% throughout the study. The results will be discussed in terms of implementing differential reinforcement procedures in naturalistic settings.



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