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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #204
Instructional Strategies That Promote Independent Responding and Reduce Dependence on Prompts
Sunday, May 28, 2017
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4E/F
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)
CE Instructor: Tiffany Kodak, Ph.D.

Skill acquisition programs frequently include prompts to occasion behavior. Responses under the control of a prompt are then transferred to the discriminative stimulus or establishing operation that evoke behavior in the natural environment. Despite substantial evidence regarding the efficacy of transfer of stimulus control procedures, some individuals may not consistently engage in independent responding in appropriate settings. The current symposium presents a collection of studies that evaluated strategies to promote independent responding and reduce or prevent dependence on prompts. The first study compared the efficacy and efficiency of three interventions to treat prompt dependence for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities. The second study provided tactile prompts to reduce rapid eating in a child with autism and compared two prompt fading strategies. The third study investigated the effects of fading procedures to teach independent and varied play skills to young children with autism during free play on the playground. All three studies will provide a discussion of how best to promote independent responding and fade prompts from instruction.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Independent responding, Prompt dependence

Assessing Treatment Options for Pre-Existing Prompt Dependence

ELLA M GORGAN (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Brittany Benitez (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Gabriella Rachal Van Den Elzen (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Dayna Costello (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Miranda May Olsen (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)

Prior research has focused on identifying effective strategies to prevent prompt dependence from occurring during the training of novel skills, although it is unclear whether interventions are also effective for reducing pre-existing prompt dependence. The current literature has also indicated that the relative efficacy and efficiency of different interventions may be idiosyncratic across learners, suggesting the potential benefit of an individualized assessment. The purpose of the current study was to extend the literature on prompt dependence and assessment-based instruction by conducting an assessment to compare interventions for skills for which four participants with developmental disabilities consistently engaged in correct responses following prompts but did not perform independently. An alternating treatment design was used to compare the effects of differential reinforcement, prompt fading, and an extended response interval on independent correct responses. Thus far, the results indicate that fading the vocal prompt may increase independent correct responding, but differential reinforcement was the most efficacious and efficient intervention strategy. The results also support the extension of assessment-based instruction to identify interventions for prompt dependence.


Evaluation of Stimulus Intensity Fading on Reduction of Rapid Eating in a Child With Autism

AMBER VALENTINO (Trumpet Behavioral Health - Monterey Bay), Linda A. LeBlanc (Trumpet Behavioral Health), Paige Raetz (Trumpet Behavioral Health)

This study assessed the effects of a vibrating pager (i.e., tactile prompt) on reduction of rapid eating in an adolescent male with autism. We replicated the procedures used by Anglesea et al. (2008) to slow the pace of food consumption with two extensions. The first extension was to examine whether the pager prompt could be successfully faded by altering the intensity of the vibration. The second extension was to compare the effects of fading by stimulus intensity vs. fading by stimulus frequency. An ABABCBCB reversal design was used to evaluate the effects of the tactile prompt on reduction of pace of eating (ABAB) and to compare the effects of fading the tactile prompt by intensity vs. by frequency (CBCB). Results showed that the pager was successful in decreasing the pace of eating to an appropriate level and the tactile prompt was successfully faded. Fading by frequency was ineffective in maintaining an appropriate pace of eating while intensity fading was successful. The intensity fading involved switching the pager from a high intensity, to a low intensity and to low intensity that was muffled.


An Evaluation of the Effects of Fading Procedures on Children Using Activity Schedulesto PlayonthePlayground Appropriately

KYLEE LEWIS (Utah State University), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)

Children with autism often have difficulty playing appropriately and independently. Activity schedules have been shown to be effective at teaching children with autism to play. Some individuals with autism engage in repetitive behaviors, especially on the playground. A previous study showed that activity schedules were effective at reducing repetitive or patterned behavior on the playground by teaching three students with autism to play appropriately and independently. This study investigated the effects of fading procedures on teaching independent and varied play skills to young children with autism during free play on the playground. All three participants engaged in more playground activities when they were taught to use the activity schedule binders. Two of the three participants were able to fade to more portable forms of activity schedules, and go through the entire fading sequence. One of the participants was only able to fade to smaller size pictures in the activity schedule binder.




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