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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #222
CE Offered: BACB
Addressing Restricted and Repetitive Behavior and Social Deficits in Individuals With Autism
Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Columbus Hall EF, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nicole M. Rodriguez (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Discussant: Tara A. Fahmie (California State University, Northridge)
CE Instructor: Nicole M. Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Each paper represents a systematic approach to addressing types of behavioral excesses and deficits with individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first paper addresses a unique type of restricted and repetitive behavior that includes patterned initial-link (preference) selections during the free-choice phase of a concurrent-chains schedule. Smith et al. used a discovery-oriented approach to evaluate a method of disrupting patterned responding under arguably the most simple and salient of terminal-link contexts reinforcement versus extinction - across seven participants. The second and third papers address the common behavioral issue of perseverative speech, which is pertinent to improving social interactions. DeLisle et al. used a multiple schedule to decrease perseverative speech while maintaining manageable levels of appropriate speech with two participants. Sauter et al. evaluated the influence of, and client preference for, attention alone or combined with contingent access to preferred topics following on-topic speech with three participants. Finally, the fourth paper addresses sportsmanship, a skill relevant to social interactions with peers. Pisman et al. evaluated the effects of behavioral skills training on sportsmanship skills across different tabletop games (e.g., Candyland) with three participants. We are fortunate to have Dr. Tara Fahmie serve as the discussant.

Keyword(s): concurrent-chains schedules, perseverative speech, repetitive behavior, social skills

The Effects of Exposure on Selections During a Concurrent-Chains Preference Assessment

VICTORIA SMITH (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Nicole M. Rodriguez (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kevin C. Luczynski (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Researchers have argued the importance of incorporating the recipients of behavior-change procedures into the treatment selection process (e.g., Hanley, 2010). When an individual has limited language capabilities, concurrent-chain schedules offer a means of assessing preference among behavior interventions and teaching strategies (Hanley, 2010). Our initial purpose was to evaluate the preference for various contexts with children diagnosed with autism who were receiving early intervention services. However, the majority of participants engaged in patterned selections consisting of one selection of each initial link, similar to how exposure trials were arranged. Thus, using a discovery-oriented approach, we evaluated a method of disrupting patterned responding under arguably the most simple and salient of terminal link arrangements (i.e., one reinforcement context versus two extinction contexts). For five of seven participants who initially demonstrated patterned responding, manipulation of the number of exposures to the reinforcement context was sufficient to produce discriminated responding. For two participants, the academic task also needed to be removed. Once discriminated responding was observed under such manipulations, discriminated responding maintained when the initial exposure arrangement was reinstated. Results are discussed in terms of the potential effects of history of exposure to errorless teaching strategies on selections during concurrent-chain schedules.


Use of Multiple Schedules and Reinforcement Thinning in the Treatment of Perseverative Speech

DEWEY DELISLE (The New England Center for Children), Jessica L. Thomason-Sassi (New England Center for Children), Kara LaCroix (The Autism Community Therapists)

Perseverative speech, the repetition of phrases or topics, can be problematic when the responses occur at such high frequency that they interfere with instruction or typical social interactions. Previous studies have shown that perseverative speech maintained by attention can be treated through the use of a simple differential reinforcement of alternative behavior procedure, in which perseverative speech is ignored and appropriate speech results in attention (Rehfeldt & Chambers, 2003); however, this type of intervention may also result in impractically high levels of appropriate speech. In the current study, a multiple schedule was introduced to decrease problem behavior and maintain low levels of appropriate speech. First, a functional analysis was conducted on the perseverative speech of 2 participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities; results showed that their perseverative speech was maintained by attention. Next, treatment consisted of alternating between reinforcement components, during which appropriate speech was reinforced and perseverative behavior was ignored, and extinction components, during which all behavior was ignored. Schedules were gradually altered to increase the length of the extinction component.


Improving the On-Topic Conversation of Individuals With Autism

JESSICA SAUTER (Briar Cliff University), Corey S. Stocco (Briar Cliff University), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England University)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may have difficulty maintaining conversation partners because of a tendency to dwell on certain topics in conversation. We evaluated the influence of, and client preference for, attention alone or combined with contingent access to preferred topics on the on-topic performance of three individuals with autism during 5-min conversations. Attention alone and combined with contingent access to preferred topics equally effective in improving participants on-topic conversation. However, participants preferred attention combined with contingent access to preferred topics. The results are discussed in the context of efficacious and socially valid interventions for improving on-topic conversation for people with autism.


Teaching Children With Autism Sportsmanship Skills to Reduce Problem Behavior During Tabletop Games

MAEGAN D. PISMAN (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kevin C. Luczynski (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Melissa Bowen (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Ami J. Kaminski (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically exhibit deficits in social interactions. One opportunity for these children to interact with typically developing peers includes tabletop games (e.g., Candyland), and reinforcing interactions during games may increase the future likelihood of these children playing together. We used a multiple baseline design across subjects, who were three children aged 6 to 8, to demonstrate the efficacy of behavioral skills training (BST), and we assessed stimulus generalization across games. BST consisted of trial-based teaching outside of the game context in which the skill was described and modeled and followed by the child practicing the skill. Next, within- or after-game feedback following an error was provided, which included conducting remedial teaching trials until the skill occurred. BST increased sportsmanship skills and decreased problem behavior for all three children, and after teaching was discontinued, maintenance of this performance was observed. Across one or two additional games, stimulus generalization of teaching on decreased levels of problem behavior, increased levels of appropriate behavior, or both was observed for each child. Future research should determine whether sportsmanship skills result in typically developing peers choosing to play more often with children with an ASD using a concurrent-chains schedule.




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