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 #107
CE Offered: BACB
Behavior Analytic Applications With Preschool Children With and Without Developmental Disabilities
Saturday, May 25, 2019
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom D
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Berglind Sveinbjornsdottir (Reykjavik University)
Discussant: Nicole Heal (Margaret Murphy Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Nicole Heal, Ph.D.

Although the majority of behavior analytic applications have been carried out with clinical and special needs populations, behavior analytic procedures are also highly applicable with populations without disabilities or diagnoses. In the current symposium, four authors will present research on applications of behavior analysis with preschool children with and without disabilities. First, Kovar will present a study on teaching self-control to typically developing preschool children who demonstrated impulsivity. Second, Halfdanardottir will present a study on the translation and implementation of the preschool life skills (PLS) program with typically developing preschool children in Reykjavik, Iceland. In the third presentation, Glaze will describe a study on the potential aversive properties of a vicarious reinforcement arrangement with preschool children. Finally, Bernstein will describe a study on the assessment and treatment of age-inappropriate self-feeding (finger feeding) with seven young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After the presentations, Nicole Heal will provide discussant’s comments.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Feeding, Preschool life-skills, Self-Control, Vicarious reinforcement
Target Audience:

Practitioners and graduate students

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe different mediating responses that improve self-control ; (2) Describe the necessary components in a behavior skills training when teaching new skills to preschool children ; (3) Identify under what conditions vicarious reinforcement conditions could be aversive; (4) Recognize the difference between self-feeding as a motivational problem or as a skill deficit problem

A Procedure to Teach Self-Control to Preschoolers of Typical Development

Nicole Kovar (Caldwell University ), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), April N. Kisamore (Hunter College), Ruth DeBar (Caldwell University ), NICOLE PANTANO (Caldwell University)

Demonstration of self-control in children has been correlated with attentiveness, academic achievement, and reduced drug use and body mass index later in life. Although some previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of teaching mediating responses to increase self-control, normative assessment has not been used to inform the selection of those responses. The purpose of the present study was evaluate the effects of mediating-response training on choices of four typically-developing 3- to 5-year-olds who demonstrated impulsivity. Responses trained were based on a descriptive assessment conducted with preschoolers who demonstrated self-control and included activity engagement, verbal behavior, and pushing the snack out of view. Stimulus preference assessments were conducted to demonstrate that toys used for activity engagement were moderately preferred. Following training and during maintenance and generalization probes with the classroom teacher, all participants selected larger delayed snacks over smaller immediate snacks and waited 5 min to consume them. Social validity assessments showed high ratings of goals, procedures, and outcomes.


Important Skills for Elementary School: Implementing Preschool Life Skills Program in a Preschool in Iceland

BARA FANNEY HALFDANARDOTTIR (Reykjavik University ), Berglind Sveinbjornsdottir (Reykjavik University), Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)

Transition from preschool to elementary school can be difficult, especially for children that have not acquired school readiness skills. The preschool life skills (PLS) program was first developed as a class-wide teaching program, teaching typically developing preschool children important social and communication skills (Hanley, Heal, Tiger, & Ingvarsson, 2007). The aim of this study was to examine the impact of systematic teaching of school readiness skills in a preschool in Iceland. First, we compared the view of preschool and elementary school teachers in Iceland on important school readiness skills. Next, we translated the PLS program into Icelandic and adapted it to those skills that Icelandic teachers thought to be important. Finally, we implemented PLS in a preschool in Iceland for children who were starting first grade in elementary school in the fall of 2018. Results from the survey showed that both preschool and elementary school teachers in Iceland viewed instruction following and functional communication as the most important skills for children to acquire before first grade. The implementation of PLS increased the likelihood of the occurrence of instruction following and functional communication and decreased problem behavior for most children.

Evaluating the Potential Aversiveness of Vicarious Reinforcement Arrangements for Preschool Children
STEPHANIE M. GLAZE (The University of Kansas), Danielle L. Gureghian (Garden Academy), Pamela L. Neidert (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: Vicarious reinforcement (VSR) refers to a change in behavior as a result of observing the delivery of reinforcement to another person. As such, VSR procedures would appear to be a viable teaching strategy for use in group settings (e.g., preschool classrooms). However, some researchers have reported the emergence of problem behavior under conditions in which only the model’s behavior is reinforced and reinforcement is withheld from observers’ behavior. The purpose of this study was to experimentally examine the extent to which a VSR arrangement may be aversive for young children by arranging conditions under which the observer can terminate (i.e., escape) the delivery of reinforcement to the model. To date, six typically developing preschool children have participated. Although results were mixed, the majority of observers displayed behavior suggesting that the VSR arrangement was aversive. Results are discussed in terms of implications and applied issues related to the use of VSR in for classroom and other applied settings.

Response Blocking to Assess Self-Feeding Deficits in Young Children With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

ALEC BERNSTEIN (UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS), Pamela L. Neidert (The University of Kansas), Jessica Foster Juanico (Trumpet Behavioral Health)

Children typically gain skills to appropriately self-feed by the age of two years (Carruth et al., 2004). Those with delayed skills are at risk for insufficient nutrition (Carruth et al., 2004) and developmental and growth delays (Manikam & Perman, 2000; O’Brien et al., 1991). Although the behavior analytic literature has addressed a multitude of treatments for pediatric feeding delays and disorders, relatively few studies have evaluated whether delays are maintained by motivational or skill deficits. The current study describes the assessment and treatment of age-inappropriate self-feeding (finger feeding) for seven young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Response blocking was used to assess whether the absence of appropriate self-feeding was a motivational or a skill deficit. Results suggested motivational deficits for three children and skill deficits for four children. Treatments informed by assessment results (i.e., backward chaining and differential reinforcement) were effective at increasing age-appropriate self-feeding for all children. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of pre-treatment assessment for both treatment efficacy and efficiency when working with young children in early childhood education and intervention environments.




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