Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalĀ® (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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #328
CE Offered: BACB
Applications of Choice Arrangements in Assessment and Treatment
Sunday, May 24, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 206
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Patricia Zemantic (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Discussant: Billie Retzlaff (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
CE Instructor: Billie Retzlaff, Ph.D.

Practitioners utilize choice arrangements to identify relative preference for various stimuli. In this symposium, we will review indirect and direct assessments of choice in the treatment for individuals with developmental disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder. In the first evaluation, Kissenberth and colleagues evaluated relative preference for edibles alone and high-tech items alone and then in combination to assess for possible displacement. They also evaluated the impact of varying magnitudes of both stimulus classes on relative preference. In the second presentation, Van Arsdale and colleagues evaluated the effect of choice on the efficacy of edible reinforcers (healthy and less preferred vs. unhealthy and more preferred). In the third study, Somervell and Simmons generated preference hierarchies for types of attention via indirect assessment (e.g., caregiver interview) and direct assessment (e.g., paired stimulus preference) and validated relative preference in a reinforcer efficacy assessment using a concurrent operants arrangement. In the final study, Leung-VanHassel and colleagues used indirect and direct assessments to identify relative hierarchies of aversiveness for demands hypothesized to evoke problem behavior. They compared hierarchies obtained through caregiver interview and demand latency assessment by including demands identified as most and least likely to evoke escaped-maintained within the negative reinforcement test condition of the functional analysis. A discussion of concurrent choice arrangements in assessment and treatment, implications for clinical practice, and future directions for research will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): choice, concurrent operants, preference assessment, reinforcer assessment
Target Audience:

The target audience includes graduate level students or masters level practitioners in the field of applied behavior analysis.


Evaluating the Effects of Magnitude on Preferences for Edible and High-Tech Stimuli in Children With Autism

MORGAN TAYLOR KISSENBERTH (Rollins College ), Angie Van Arsdale (Interventions Unlimited), Kara L. Wunderlich (Rollins College), Michele Williams (Rollins College )

Previous research has demonstrated individuals with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder typically prefer edible items over leisure items when the two are presented together in stimulus preference assessments. However, how the inclusion of high-tech items affect preferences when compared to edible items is limited in this body of research. More recently, Conine and Vollmer (2019) demonstrated high-tech items might displace edible items; due to the recent influx of high-tech tangible items used as reinforcers in clinical settings, such as iPads, additional research is warranted. In the current evaluation, we compared the preferences for edible items and high-tech items in an assessment to determine if a displacement effect exists. Next, we manipulated the magnitude of both stimulus classes to assess how greater magnitude increases preferences. Implications of the findings as well as future research ideas will be discussed in detail.

The Effects of Choice on Reinforcing Efficacy of Healthful Foods
ANGIE VAN ARSDALE (Interventions Unlimited), Kara L. Wunderlich (Rollins College), Morgan Taylor Kissenberth (Rollins College ), Alexandra Knerr (Rollins College)
Abstract: For many children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities, edible reinforcers are commonly used in skill acquisition procedures. However, the edible items that are often most preferred by these children are high-calorie, high-sugar snacks (e.g., chips, cookies, and candies), which can have adverse health effects. Previous research has indicated that if reinforcer choice is provided to an individual, the chosen reinforcer has increased reinforcement value. The current study evaluated the effect of choice on the reinforcing efficacy of edibles with higher healthfulness by comparing them to less-healthful (but higher preferred) reinforcers typically used in the intervention setting. In a discrete-trial training format, the effects of healthful edibles with choice, healthful edibles without choice, unhealthful edibles without choice, and no consequences were evaluated on skill acquisition of unknown tacts. The idiosyncratic results of this evaluation, as well as implications of using more healthful edible reinforcers and directions for future research, will be discussed.

Validity of a Caregiver and Child Attention Preference Assessment Using a Concurrent Operants Arrangement

SHERAH SOMERVELL (Rowan University), Christina Simmons (Rowan University)

A structured caregiver attention preference assessment interview was developed to assess and rank attention across 9 categories. Twenty caregivers of children with autism (range, 3-11 years) identified a mean of 7.67 forms of preferred attention across 5.77 categories. A paired-stimulus preference assessment was conducted with child participants using images of caregiver-identified attention types. The mean rank order correlation between caregiver and child preference assessments was 0.55 (moderate correlation). A reinforcer efficacy assessment using a concurrent operants arrangement was conducted with each child. The floor was marked with 3 squares (1.52m x 1.52m) with attention picture icons in two squares and the third square serving as a control. In-square behavior resulted in delivery of the designated attention type. Caregiver and child-high, moderate, and low attention types were analyzed. Results of 4 participants indicated that caregiver-high and moderate attention types resulted in greater in-square behavior than the low, with two participants having a clear distinction between the high and moderate types. Results from the child attention types demonstrated that reinforcer efficacy for high, moderate, and low matched the preference assessment for all participants. Results demonstrate the validity of conducting a child attention preference assessment using the types of attention identified by caregivers.

An Evaluation of the Accuracy of Caregiver Identification of Demands for Children with Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior
HEATHER LEUNG-VANHASSEL (Rowan University), Christina Simmons (Rowan University), Reema Sethi (Rowan University )
Abstract: This study evaluated caregiver accuracy at identifying demands most likely to evoke escape-maintained problem behavior for 4 children with autism or developmental disabilities using the Demand Assessment for Individuals with Severe Disabilities (DAISD). After a demand aversiveness hierarchy was established with the DAISD, a corresponding demand latency assessment (DLA) was conducted with each child. A functional analysis (FA) was conducted using demands identified by both the DAISD and DLA as most and least likely to evoke problem behavior. Correlations between caregiver-ranked demands and DLA rankings were variable. FA results indicated that DAISD rankings were not a reliable measure to determine highly aversive demands and practitioners should not rely on caregiver report alone. Although all caregivers identified at least 8 demands and created an aversiveness hierarchy, caregiver demand hierarchies did not correspond with demands most and least likely to yield an escape function. For 50% of participants, the caregiver-nominated demand resulted in a false-negative outcome, whereas the least-aversive DLA demand resulted in an escape-function for all participants. Rates of problem behavior and percent compliance between demand conditions further confirmed that aversiveness was inaccurately determined. Practitioners should use caregiver report to identify aversive demands and follow up with direct child demand assessments.



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