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

Previous Page


Symposium #201
CE Offered: BACB
Variables That Affect Response Allocation and Choice in Populations With Special Needs
Sunday, May 28, 2017
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4C/D
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)
Discussant: Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)
CE Instructor: Robert LaRue, Ph.D.

Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction, and is often accompanied by the presence of maladaptive behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injurious behavior). Increasing functional skill development is particularly important for individuals with developmental disabilities. Effective use of reinforcement-based procedures is critical for addressing behavioral excesses and building necessary functional skills to increase independence. However, a number of environmental variables affect the decisions made by this population. Variables, such as, impulsivity, task difficulty, reinforcer quality, the presence of competing disruptive behavior, are all factors that influence decisions made by individuals with ASD. The purpose of the current symposium is to evaluate the impact of variables that affect response allocation in individuals with ASD and to improve outcomes for this population. Talks will address the nature of impulsivity in different clinical populations and identify ways to address it, ethical ways to influence choice-making, broadening response variability, and application of these concepts to inform plans to address disruptive behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism, response allocation

An Exploration of Temporal Discounting in Neurotypical Individuals and Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders

MIKALA RAE HANSON (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication, and restricted and repetitive interests and activities. While not a defining characteristic of ASD, many individuals with this diagnosis display issues with impulsivity. The presence of impulsivity can be pervasive and dramatically affects the intervention process. In the scientific literature, impulsivity is often conceptualized as an issue with temporal discounting. Temporal discounting refers to the decrease in the present value of reinforcers as a function of the delay of their receipt. Researchers have outlined some procedures for evaluating delay discounting in human populations. However, much of this research is limited to hypothetical choices with typically developing populations. Additionally, little research has been conducted comparing impulsivity of individuals with Autism who are lower functioning to typically developing individuals using real as opposed to hypothetical choices. The purpose of the current investigation was the employ delay discounting procedures with both neurotypical individuals and individuals with ASDs. In the investigation, participants were given choices between an impulsive choice and a self-controlled choice. Indifference points were plotted. The preliminary results suggest that individuals with ASD may respond more impulsively than neurotypical peers.


A Translational Evaluation of the Effects of Reinforcer Magnitude on Variant Responding in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

RAECHAL FERGUSON (University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin), Hollie Wingate (University of Texas at Austin), Samantha Brooke Swinnea (University of Texas at Austin)

Interventions aimed at increasing behavioral variability hold particular importance in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Several procedures have been demonstrated in the applied and translational literature to increase response variability including extinction and lag schedules of reinforcement. However, little is known about the relationship between reinforcer magnitude and response variability. In the basic literature, Doughty et al. (2013) evaluated the effects of reinforcer magnitude on behavioral variability by manipulating reinforcer magnitude across alternating variability thresholds, with results suggesting that larger reinforcers induced repetitive responding. The purpose of the current study was to translate these findings to evaluate the relative effects of different magnitudes of reinforcement on response variability in children with ASD. A lag 1 schedule of reinforcement was in place during each condition within an alternating treatments design. Magnitudes of reinforcement contingent on variant responding were manipulated across the two conditions. Inconsistent with basic findings, the results showed higher levels of variant responding associated with the larger magnitude of reinforcement. Potential implications for programming for variable responding will be discussed.


The Effects of Signaled Delays on the Effectiveness of Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) Reinforcement Systems

David Singer (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University), Mikala Rae Hanson (Rutgers University), Odom Jaxye (Rutgers University), Rachel Davis (Rutgers University), JAMES MARAVENTANO (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center)

The use of a countdown timer has been shown to be an effective tool in helping increase quiet waiting during a differential reinforcement of other behaviors (DRO) procedures in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that exhibit vocal and motor stereotypy. For lower functioning individuals with ASD that lack the prerequisite skills to read a digital or analogue clock, the use of a visual countdown timer may provide a concrete and visual representation of the passage of time that aids in the implementation of the DRO procedure. The talk will address a recent study that compares the use of a digital countdown clock with a visual countdown timer application (i.e. a tablet application where as time elapsed, a red circle or disk disappeared and the image of the reinforcer in the background was revealed) to facilitate a DRO procedure. The study results provide an addition to the literature on the use of this reinforcement-based procedure to treat lower functioning individuals with ASD that exhibit frequent, disruptive and socially stigmatizing vocal stereotypy.


An Evaluation of a Multi-Component Intervention for Loud Speech in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

HAILEY ORMAND (The University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin), Elissa Spinks (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Idiosyncratic patterns of speech are common in ASD and greatly affect the extent of an individuals social and educational inclusion. Although there is a wealth of literature detailing and evaluating interventions for a variety of verbal behaviors in ASD, there is a relative dearth of literature describing interventions for idiosyncratic speech characteristics (e.g., atypical prosody) and even less focused specifically on loud speech. To address this gap in the literature, the current study presents and evaluates a treatment package implemented with three children with ASD and a history of loud speech (i.e., = 70 db). A concurrent multiple baselines across participants with an embedded reversal design was used to determine whether a multi-component intervention (i.e., an antecedent modification, a differential reinforcement of other behavior [DRO] procedure, and in-vivo feedback) effectively reduced participants loud speech. Results indicated rates of loud speech were reduced to near-zero levels while the treatment package was in place. The present study extends the literature on speech prosody in ASD, fills a gap in the treatment literature by detailing and effective intervention for loud speech, and provides a foundation for future investigations into a nuanced yet crucial aspect of social communication.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh