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 #106
CE Offered: BACB
Commonalities and Advancements in Stimulus-Avoidance Assessment and Variables that Effect Preference for Punishment
Saturday, May 27, 2017
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 2A
Area: PRA/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amanda Zangrillo (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Discussant: Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Amanda Zangrillo, Psy.D.
Abstract: The use of punishment may be warranted when reinforcement-based procedures alone prove unsuccessful in reducing problem behaviors to clinically acceptable levels or when the intensity, level, or frequency of problem behaviors produce client safety concerns which require immediate intervention (Hagopain et al., 1998). This symposium aims to provide a discussion of common practices and advancements in the implementation of stimulus-avoidance assessments (SAA) and application of information gained via SSA in the treatment of problem behavior. First, the paper presented by Mauzy et al. provides a review of 53 implementations of SAA procedures and commonalities between procedural implementation and outcomes associated with each procedure. Simmons and colleagues provide a comparison between caregiver implemented SAAs and therapist implemented SSAs. In addition, they provide a clinical demonstration of FCT combined with the stimulus selected from the SAA, resulting in clinically significant reductions in problem behavior. In the third paper, Sansing, Toussaint, and Tiger evaluate a treatment for automatically maintained aggression in which they included variables selected following implementation of the SAA. Lastly, Nzuki et al. evaluate preference for reinforcement and response cost within a token economy and provide a discussion on the factors influencing selection of punishment procedures during treatment.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Punishment, Stimulus-Avoidance
An Investigation of Similarities in Procedures Used in Stimulus Avoidance Assessments
COURTNEY MAUZY (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah J. Miller (Marcus Autism Center / Emory University School of Medicine), Mindy Schiethauer (Marcus Autism Center; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University School of Medicine ), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center/Emory University School of Medicine), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center/Emory University School of Medicine), Seth B. Clark (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: A stimulus avoidance assessment (SAA; Fisher, Piazza, Bowman, Kurtz, Sherer, and Lachman, 1994) identifies procedures that may serve as punishers to reduce maladaptive behaviors. Although this method is frequently used to determine procedures for use as a punisher in clinical settings, there has been less attention in the literature dedicated to evaluating the various components of this analysis. Specifically, it is unclear if there are specific aspects to the procedures included that could influence future SAAs. The purpose of the current investigation was to evaluate correspondence between SAA procedures both within and across participants. Data from 53 participants, seen in an intensive day treatment program for severe problem behavior, who completed a SAA as part of their clinical treatment, were analyzed. Investigators used these data to examine potential common variables (e.g., physical components) or common outcomes associated with each procedure (e.g., rank orders). Findings showed that procedures that had similar physical components did not consistently result in more similar avoidance indices than procedures with dissimilar physical components. These analyses can be used to inform clinical considerations when conducting SAAs and to improve the efficiency of the assessment.
An Evaluation of Caregiver-Implemented Stimulus Avoidance Assessment and Treatment
CHRISTINA SIMMONS (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Amanda Zangrillo (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Med)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is a commonly used differential reinforcement procedure to reduce challenging behavior (Carr & Durand, 1985). Consideration of punishment may be warranted when problem behaviors are resistant to reinforcement-based procedures or are of an intensity that warrant immediate intervention (Hagopain, et al., 1998). In the current evaluation, two participants’ problem behaviors (i.e., self-injury, aggression, property destruction) were not sufficiently reduced using FCT alone and resulted in injury to themselves and others. In Study 1, we evaluated whether: (a) caregivers can implement stimulus avoidance assessment (SAA) procedures with fidelity, (b) results of therapist- and caregiver-implemented SAA correspond, and (c) implementing SAA alters caregiver social acceptability ratings. In Study 2, we selected response reduction procedures from the caregiver-implemented SAA to include in FCT treatment. Results of Study 1 indicated that: (a) caregivers implemented SAA with high fidelity, (b) different hierarchies of response reduction procedures were identified with caregivers and therapists, and (c) caregiver acceptability ratings shifted following SAA implementation. Preliminary results with two additional participants suggest less change in acceptability rating after observing therapist-implemented SAA. Results of Study 2 indicated that FCT with response reduction procedures resulted in clinically significant reductions in problem behavior and results generalized to caregivers.

Treatment of Automatically-Maintained Aggression With Punishment and a Discrimination-Training Procedure

Elizabeth McKay Sansing (University of North Texas), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas), Jeffrey H. Tiger (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), LANDON COWAN (University of North Texas)

Automatically-maintained problem behavior can present treatment challenges. In addition, there are relatively few examples of aggression maintained by automatic reinforcement in the literature to guide clinicians in developing effective treatment plans. The current investigation evaluates a treatment of aggression, in the form of hair-pulling, maintained by automatic reinforcement for a young boy with autism. We first evaluated the effects of an environmental-enrichment procedure using competing items; however, aggression maintained at high levels. We next conducted a stimulus-avoidance assessment (SAA) to identify procedures that may function as a punisher for maladaptive behavior. Based upon the results of the SAA, we evaluated the contingent application a hands-down procedure within a reversal design, and aggression was reduced by 80% from baseline levels. Treatment gains maintained when the participants mother served as the therapist and also over an extended 7-hour session. Finally, we conducted a preliminary investigation to teach the participant to discriminate between appropriate hair play and hair pulling.


Variables That Influence Preference for Response Cost

ISAAC NZUKI (Southern Illinois University), Erica Jowett Hirst (Southern Illinois University), Falyn Michal Lockenour (Southern Illinois University), Allison Ribley (Southern Illinois University), Alexis Henry (Southern Illinois University )

Few researchers have compared preference for reinforcement and response cost within a token economy, and the results have shown that preference varies among individuals (e.g., Donaldson et al., 2014; Iwata & Bailey, 1974; Jowett Hirst et al., 2016). Preference for response cost is an interesting phenomenon because response cost is a punishment procedure and is often considered aversive. Therefore, identifying the variables that influence preference for response cost is an important area of research. Some authors have suggested that the immediate delivery or presence of tokens might influence preference for response cost, but these variables have yet to be experimentally evaluated. The current study evaluated whether the presence of tokens influences selection of response cost over reinforcement in typically developing preschool children by systematically varying the presence of tokens across both the reinforcement and response cost procedures. Preliminary results suggest that the presence of tokens may influence preference for some individuals.




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