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 #25
Extensions of Research on Automatic Reinforcement.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Stevens 2
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Wendy K. Berg (University of Iowa)
Discussant: Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: A variety of treatment procedures have been applied to reduce problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. The majority of treatments fit within the categories of (a) noncontingent reinforcement procedures (NCR) in which preferred or matched stimuli are available independent of problem behavior, and (b) response interruption or response restriction procedures in which access to problem behavior is interrupted via physical or mechanical restraints. Each of these procedures has resulted in significant reductions in problem behavior for some participants and little to no effect for other participants. The three studies presented within this symposium evaluated methods for increasing the likelihood of success for treatments to reduce problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. The first study evaluated the use of functional analysis play sessions (NCR) to predict the effectiveness of treatments based on noncontingent access to preferred stimuli. The second study compared the effects of two response interruption and redirection procedures in reducing the occurrence of vocal stereotypy, and the third study evaluated the use of visual cues to signal the presence versus absence of response blocking procedures on the occurrence of stereotypy. Each of these studies provides an extension of the existing literature on automatic reinforcement.
Using Functional Analysis NCR Sessions to Predict the Effects of NCR Based Treatments on Problem Behavior.
ANURADHA DUTT (The University of Iowa), Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa), Jason M. Stricker (The University of Iowa), Kelly M. Vinquist (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (The University of Iowa), Jeffrey R. Luke (The University of Iowa)
Abstract: Ringdahl et al. (1997), Roscoe et al. (1998), and Shore et al. (1997) have shown that noncontingent access to highly preferred alternative stimuli (e.g. toys) can reduce rates of problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. In this study, we hypothesized that the occurrence of problem behavior during the NCR play sessions of the functional analysis (Iwata et al., 1982/1994) would be prescriptive for the effectiveness of NCR treatments in reducing problem behavior. Results indicated that low levels of problem behavior during the NCR play functional analysis sessions were predictive of low levels of problem behavior during subsequent NCR treatment sessions. In contrast, high levels of problem behavior during NCR play functional analysis sessions were associated with high levels of problem behavior during subsequent probes to NCR sessions during treatment. These results support our hypothesis and show that levels of problem behavior during NCR play FA sessions are predictive of the effects of NCR-based treatments for problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. A summary of the results for 14 participants will be presented with graphic displays of each assessment/treatment pattern observed. Interobserver agreement date were collected for 30% of the sessions and averaged above 90% for problem behavior.
An Evaluation of Treatment Procedures for Reducing Vocal Stereotypy and Increasing Functional Verbal Behavior.
TIFFANY KODAK (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Amanda Karsten (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Stereotypy may interfere with skill acquisition. This may be especially true if high rates of vocal stereotypy interfere with academic programs targeting functional verbalizations. Despite the disruptive nature of vocal stereotypy, limited research has evaluated the efficacy of treatment procedures designed to reduce vocal stereotypy. Ahearn, Clark, MacDonald, and Chung (2007) examined a treatment procedure for vocal stereotypy that included response interruption and redirection (RIRD). Results indicated treatment resulted in decreased levels of vocal stereotypy and increased levels of appropriate vocalizations. However, the authors did not evaluate the operant mechanism responsible for reductions in behavior. The current study was designed to replicate and extend the findings of Ahearn et al. by evaluating two variations of RIRD to identify the operant mechanism responsible for treatment efficacy. The first RIRD treatment procedure involved the provision of demands that required verbal responses contingent on an occurrence of vocal stereotypy. The second RIRD treatment involved providing demands that required motor responses contingent on vocal stereotypy. Results indicated both treatment procedures reduced levels of stereotypy. Following the initial treatment evaluation, the schedule of RIRD delivery was thinned to evaluate whether punishment or extinction was the operative mechanism resulting in reduced levels of vocal stereotypy.
Using Stimulus Control to Decrease Stereotypy Exhibited by a Child with Autism.
DAVID M. RICHMAN (University of Illinois), Elizabeth Brusa (University of Illinois)
Abstract: Stereotypic behavior exhibited by a third grade boy with autism was maintained by automatic reinforcement and occurrences of stereotypy were brought under stimulus control. The intervention consisted of pairing a green discriminative stimulus card (SD) with free access to stereotypy and a red card (SD absent) with vocal redirection and blocking stereotypy. After exposure to discrimination training, the student rarely engaged in stereotypy with the SD card absent, but he almost continuously engaged in stereotypy when the SD card was present. A second observer in the classroom collected interobserver agreement data for 100% of the sessions with a mean exact interval occurrence agreement of 97.3% (range, 81% - 100%). Experimental control over stereotypic behavior was demonstrated via a combination of within session sequential alternating treatments design and withdrawal design across sessions.



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