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 #332
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Acquisition in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 26, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
International South
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Sung Woo Kahng (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Sung Woo Kahng, Ph.D.

The application of behavior analysis to treat behavioral deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder has resulted in substantial progress in improving overall functioning and quality of life. This symposium will provide a summary of research focused on acquisition of a variety of behaviors.

Using Virtual Reality to Teach Street Crossing Skills to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
TINA R. GOLDSMITH (Western Michigan University), Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) often have poor safety skills due to insensitivity to subtle environmental cues and poor problem solving in the face of stressful tasks. Behavioral skills training (BST), consisting of instructions, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback, is effective for teaching safety skills and the effects improve with in situ training. However, creating realistic and safe contexts for rehearsal of skills such as street crossing may prove logistically difficult, if not impossible. Virtual reality (VR) affords a potential solution by allowing a child to interact meaningfully in an environment with optimal arrangement of the environment to promote learning and generalization. Five children with ASDs (ages 9-13) participated in a partially immersive VR enhanced BST intervention to teach safe street crossing. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design across participants was used in the virtual environment with repeated probes in the natural environment. All participants mastered the skill set within the virtual environment and improved from pretest to post-test in the natural environment with some demonstrating treatment gains following instructions and modeling.
Increasing Independent Responding in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder through Delayed Prompting.
NICOLE LYNN HAUSMAN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Sung Woo Kahng (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Einar T. Ingvarsson (Youngstown State University), Samantha Hardesty (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Terri Parsons (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: In the current study, the effects of different schedules of reinforcement on rates of compliance after the vocal prompt were compared within the context of three-step guided compliance. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design was used to compare effects across participants, and test conditions were evaluated in a multielement design. A spelling task was selected for Participant 1 and a matching task was selected for Participant 2. In Condition A (CRF/CRF) correct responses occurring independently or after the vocal prompt were continuously reinforced. During Condition B (CRF/EXT), correct responses occurring independently were continuously reinforced, while correct responses occurring after the vocal prompt did not result in the delivery of an edible item. During Condition C (CRF/FR3), correct responses occurring independently were reinforced continuously, while correct responses occurring after the vocal prompt were reinforced on an FR3 schedule. Results indicated that for both participants, the task trained under Condition B (CRF/EXT) had the highest percentage of independent responding and took less time for each participant to master.
An Investigation of Treatment Integrity Failures during Discrimination Training.
ELIZABETH S. ATHENS (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Jorge Rafael Reyes (University of Florida)
Abstract: Discrete trial training is a commonly used teaching method for children diagnosed with autism. Little attention has been given to methodological issues related to the general procedures. For example, discrete trial training commonly utilizes discrimination training; however, little is known about the sensitivity of this training to treatment integrity failures within discrete trial training. The purpose of Study 1 was to evaluate a method of conducting human operant research on discrimination training and to examine responding during two kinds of treatment integrity failures. A simulated program of a complex discrimination task was developed using Visual Basic computer programming. The program was first used to examine responses to arbitrary, novel tasks in a controlled laboratory setting with undergraduate college students as participants. The two kinds of errors evaluated were: (a) erro of omission (a reinforcer was not delivered when it was earned) and (b) errors of commission (a reinforcer was delivered when it was not earned). The probability of errors of omission and commission were manipulated across several conditions. Results suggest the sensitivity to errors of omission and commission is idiosyncratic and identifiable. The purpose of Study 2 was to examine the effect of integrity failures on the acquisition of academic tasks with developmentally disabled elementary school students as participants. Procedures from Study 1 were replicated using varying types of academic demands as the tasks. Results suggest children are selectively sensitive to specific errors, and these procedures quickly identified the errors most likely to interfere with response acquisition.
An Evaluation of Procedures for Increasing Item Engagement and Decreasing Automatically Reinforced Problem Behavior.
ERIN S. LEIF (The New England Center for Children ), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children ), Heather Morrison (The New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: A number of studies have shown an inverse relationship between problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement and item engagement. Lindberg, Iwata, and Kahng (1999) did not observe reductions in participants’ automatically reinforced SIB as a result of increased item engagement; response blocking and protective equipment was necessary to produce positive treatment outcomes. The purpose of this study was to extend this line of research by comparing the effects of two commonly used treatment components (i.e., prompting and reinforcement) for increasing appropriate item engagement and decreasing problem behavior in the context of a duration-based preference assessment. Three individuals whexhibited problem behaviors maintained by automatic reinforcement participated in the study. Repeated duration-based preference assessments were conducted; during which eight leisure items were singally presented for 3 minutes each. Within the context of the preference assessment, two treatment procedures, prompting and prompting with reinforcement, were compared using a reversal design. Results indicated that prompting alone was effective in increasing appropriate item engagement and decreasing problem behavior; however, reinforcement was necessary to obtain clinically acceptable levels of item engagement and problem behavior (greater than 75% engagement and less than 5% problem behavior). Maintenance and generalization of treatment effects were then evaluated in the participant’s natural environment.



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