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.


46th Annual Convention; Online; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #110
CE Offered: BACB
Factors and Procedures Pertaining to Delays to Reinforcement: Translational and Applied Evaluations
Saturday, May 23, 2020
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica Herrod (University of Georgia)
CE Instructor: Jessica Herrod, Ph.D.

The study of procedures and variables that impact behavior during delays to reinforcement continues to be important in terms of the treatment of problem behavior. For example, although functional communication training (FCT) has been demonstrated to be a highly effective treatment for problem behavior, delays to reinforcement must be considered given naturally occurring times in which reinforcement is delayed or unavailable and in the interest of practicality (e.g., clients might mand for reinforcement at high rates rendering the treatment impractical for careproviders). This symposium is comprised of three data-based presentations concerning aspects of delays to reinforcement including the evaluation of procedures aimed at enhancing toleration of delays to reinforcement during FCT and variables that impact allocation of responding across different delay-to-reinforcement arrangements. Specifically, the current symposium will focus on delays to reinforcement and present data on (a) the effects of discrimination training and denial trials during FCT, (b) the effects of vocal signals during FCT, and (c) preference for mixed vs. fixed delays to reinforcement.

Target Audience:

Graduate students and practitioners


An Evaluation of Functional Communication Training With Signaled and Unsignaled Delays to Reinforcement

DAN MANGUM (University of Georgia), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Georgia)

Functional communication training (FCT) can be successful in replacing problem behavior with a functionally equivalent response. One potential challenge of this intervention involves learners requesting reinforcers at an unsustainable rate. To address this challenge, FCT often includes strategies to thin the reinforcement schedule, including delays to reinforcement. Previous studies have incorporated signals to delay using timers (Kelley, Lerman, Fisher, Roane, & Zangrillo, 2011) or occasional vocal statements (Hagopian, Contrucci-Kuhn, Long, & Rush). To date no studies have systematically evaluated the necessity of a signal indicating delay to reinforcement. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to empirically evaluate the use of a vocal signal, in the absence of a delay timer, on the efficiency of increasing delays to reinforcement. Results indicated the inclusion of a vocal signal preserved the functional communication training outcomes during the reinforcement thinning procedures for a 5-year-old male with Autism Spectrum Disorder to a greater extent than schedule thinning in the absence of a vocal signal.


CANCELED: Preference for Fixed- and Mixed-Delays to Reinforcement Among Children With Autism

CAYENNE SHPALL (University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin), Monique Barnett (University of Texas at Austin), Andrea Ramirez-Cristoforo (The University of Texas at Austin ), Fabiola Vargas Londono (University of Texas at Austin)

Delays to reinforcement are often a necessary component during treatments of problem behavior (e.g., Functional Communication Training; FCT). In the absence of programmed delay training, the utility, generality, and maintenance of the effects of FCT may be limited. Despite the importance of delays to reinforcement during FCT, few studies have empirically isolated and investigated the parameters pertaining to the implementation of delays to reinforcement. Results from basic empirical studies have shown that participants, in both human and nonhuman-based studies, demonstrate preferences for variable, or bi-valued mixed delays to reinforcement. The current study examined response allocation between fixed and mixed delays to reinforcement using a concurrent schedule of reinforcement exhibited by children with Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnoses. Results showed preference for mixed delays to reinforcement with all participants. Potential avenues of future research on the use of mixed delays to reinforcement, such as the application within FCT and maintenance of socially appropriate behaviors, are discussed.

A Synthesized Approach to Functional Communication Training Including Discrimination and Tolerance to Denial
JESSICA HERROD (University of Georgia), Sarah Snyder (University of Georgia), Kimberly Caito (University of Georgia), Erinn Whiteside (University of Georgia), Kevin Ayres (University of Georgia)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) provides an efficient means for reducing problem behaviors while increasing social communication. After establishing a functional communication response (FCR) interventionists may need to thin the schedules of reinforcement to increase durability of effects and maintenance in the natural environment. Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, and Hanratty (2014) proposed one means for thinning schedules that involved the systematic introduction of extinction (or denial trials) following a process of delaying reinforcement. The current study evaluates a classroom application of this thinning process with 2 elementary aged boys with autism who engaged in aggression, self-injury, and disruption evoked be denied access to preferred items or routines. The data show the therapeutic effects of the FCT program with systematic introduction of discrimination training and denial trials once the participants demonstrated proficiency with the FCR. Results are discussed in terms of extending Hanley et al. (2014) and how these procedures can be used within typical school-based settings.



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