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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #102
CE Offered: BACB
Comparing Procedural Variables in Skill Acquisition Arrangements for Children With Autism
Saturday, May 25, 2019
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom C
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)
Discussant: Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Karen A. Toussaint, Ph.D.

Behavior-analytic teaching procedures have been shown to be effective in promoting the acquisition of important skills in children with autism. Research that specifies the critical features upon which this success depends may lead to refinements in our instructional design, and improvements in outcomes for the children we serve. This symposium consists of four studies that compare procedural variables in skill acquisition arrangements for children with autism. These procedural variables include the within-trial sequence of sample and comparison stimulus presentation, the within-session timing of an opportunity for the learner to choose a reinforcer, and the criteria for introducing multiple exemplars and initiating differential reinforcement of unprompted and prompted correct responses.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): autism, remediation, skill acquisition, teaching procedures
Target Audience:

Researchers and practitioners who evaluate or implement instructional programs to children with autism or intellectual disabilities.

Learning Objectives: If asked to do so following this presentation attendees will: 1. Identify the stimuli presented in a matching-to-sample trial, distinguishing between sample and comparison stimuli. 2. Describe multiple-exemplar teaching as a strategy for promoting generalization of skills. 3. Define differential reinforcement and describe how this is applied in the context of promoting independent responding.

A Comparison of Presenting the Sample or Comparisons First During Audio-Visual Conditional Discrimination Training for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

COURTNEY LYN MEYERHOFER (Marquette University), Samantha Bergmann (University of North Texas ), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Mike Harman (Briar Cliff University), Miranda May Olsen (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Gabriella VanDenElzen (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee; University of Nebraska Medical Center), Dayna Costello (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University)

Auditory-visual conditional discriminations (AVCD) occur when behavior comes under the control of auditory stimuli (e.g., a vocal sample) and a related visual stimulus (e.g., a picture in an array) in the environment. The sequence of procedures in AVCD training may vary; this study evaluated two common sequences by comparing sample- and comparison-first presentation format. A sample-first training format involves the presentation of an auditory sample stimulus before the array of visual stimuli, and a comparison-first format involves the presentation of the array of visual stimuli before the auditory sample stimulus. The study used a multiple probe design across two stimulus sets with an embedded adapted alternating treatments design. Four individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder participated. Results show that all eight comparisons for the sample-first condition were efficacious and seven of the eight comparisons for the comparison-first condition were efficacious. The comparison-first condition was the most efficient procedure in four of the eight comparisons. In two of the comparisons, both sample- and comparison-first procedures were equally efficient. Implications and future directions will be discussed.


A Comparison of Serial and Concurrent Training With Multiple Exemplars to Teach Propositional Direction-Following to Children With Autism

TERESA LING (New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)

Multiple exemplar teaching (MET) has been shown to improve the likelihood that a learned response will occur in situations that are different from the training environment. The purpose of this study was to compare effects of two methods for programming MET: serial and concurrent training. Two young men with autism spectrum disorder were taught to follow prepositional spoken directives using serial and concurrent presentation of multiple exemplars. Trials to mastery and generalization to untrained, natural environment locations were evaluated using each method. One participant met mastery criteria more quickly using concurrent training. Both training methods resulted in generalization to untrained, natural environment locations for both participants.


Reinforcer Choice as an Antecedent Versus Consequence During Acquisition Tasks for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

RAFAELLA GASHI (Garden Academy), Danielle L. Gureghian (Garden Academy), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Alexandra Marie Campanaro (Caldwell University)

Providing choice of reinforcers has shown to be an effective and efficient strategy to increase skill acquisition (Toussaint, Kodak, & Vladescu, 2016). However, less is known about the differential effectiveness and efficiency of providing choices before or after task responding. We sought to replicate and extend Peterson, Lerman, and Nissen (2016) by evaluating reinforcer choice using auditory-visual conditional discrimination acquisition targets with three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We assigned three unknown targets to each condition and taught the targets using a constant prompt delay with a gesture prompt. During the antecedent condition, participants selected the putative reinforcer prior to earning tokens. During the consequence condition, participants selected the reinforcer following earning tokens. Antecedent and consequence choice responding was evaluating using an adapted alternating treatment design embedded within a nonconcurrent multiple baseline design Results showed acquisition of targets across both the antecedent and consequence condition for two of three participants. However, consequence choice condition appeared to be more efficient for all three participants. These data provide preliminary support that providing choice prior to task responding, a commonly used strategy with children with autism spectrum disorder, may not result in the most efficient responding.

Comparing Skill Acquisition Under Varying Onsets of Differential Reinforcement
ALEXANDRA MARIE CAMPANARO (Caldwell University), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Kasey Clark Nippes (Caldwell University)
Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that differential reinforcement may increase instructional efficiency relative to nondifferential reinforcement. However, little research has directly evaluated when during instruction to begin differentially reinforcing unprompted and prompted correct responses. The current study evaluated the effect of implementing differential reinforcement at different times relative to the onset of teaching new skills to three learners with autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, we first determined the most effective differential reinforcement arrangement for each participant. Next, we evaluated the efficacy and efficiency of differential reinforcement from the immediate onset, early onset, or late onset. The results indicated that across participants, the immediate onset of differential reinforcement resulted in the most efficient instruction in six of seven comparisons. These outcomes will be discussed in light of previous research and recommendations for future research.



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