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; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #359
CE Offered: BACB
Individualizations and Considerations for Measuring Client Preference
Sunday, May 24, 2020
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon G
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Lauren LeJeune (University of South Carolina)
CE Instructor: Lauren LeJeune, Ph.D.

Researchers and practitioners often measure client preference for tangible items, activities, or social interactions to identify potential reinforcers for skill acquisition or behavior reduction programs. In this symposium, researchers from three institutions will present experimental studies in which they considered the idiosyncratic nature of preference within assessment and intervention design. The first presenter will describe a study in which researchers compared methods (e.g., interview, observation) for identifying items to include in a multiple-stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessment. The second presenter will describe a study in which researchers evaluated correspondence between (a) student preference (measured via MSWO and concurrent operants analysis formats) for technology-based activities and (b) measures of student behavior during computer-assisted instruction. The third presenter will describe a study in which researchers compared the acquisition of functional communication responses for tangible items and attention, with a focus on considerations for client preference for tangible versus social reinforcers. All presenters will discuss the implications of their results for future research and practice and will allot time for audience discussion and questions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): challenging behavior, FCT, preference assessment, school-based intervention
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts practicing within school-based or clinical settings and behavior analytic researchers.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe advantages and disadvantages of methods to identify stimuli for inclusion in preference assessments; (2) describe a method for individualizing a concurrent operants assessment; (3) identify potential reasons for differential acquisition of functional communication responses.
Evaluating Item Inclusion Methods in Multiple-Stimulus Without Replacement Preference Assessments
SARA RAZIA JEGLUM (Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; University of Wisconsin-Madison), Matthew O'Brien (The University of Iowa), Jennifer M. Asmus (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Abstract: The multiple-stimulus without replacement preference assessment (MSWO) is a well-established method to identify possible reinforcers for individuals with and without disabilities. The MSWO stimulus array is typically chosen through structured interviews, arbitrary selection, observation, open-ended stakeholder interview, or self-report. However, no standard currently exists to guide selection and inclusion. While MSWOs are efficacious, the methods to select stimuli are variable or often not described, limiting the effectiveness of interventions. This study sought to elucidate item inclusion methods for adolescents with autism. Using a multi-element design, four adolescent boys with ASD completed MSWOs based on various methods of identifying item arrays. Reinforcer assessments, in which the identified highest preferred items were delivered contingent on completing academic tasks, were conducted. Task performance was compared using percentage of differentiation. An acceptability measure was administered to stakeholders. All informants endorsed vastly different stimuli for inclusion in MSWOs. When comparing these stimuli, however, there was no differentiation for time to task completion. All participants reported satisfaction with the procedures. Results suggest that it is incumbent upon those who work with adolescents with ASD to gather report from multiple informants to ascertain appropriate possible reinforcers. Factors contributing to the efficacy of various inclusion methods are discussed.
Considering Student Preference for Instructional Format: An Experimental Comparison of Paper-Based and Computer-Assisted Literacy Instruction
LAUREN LEJEUNE (University of South Carolina), Christopher Lemons (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Incorporating student preference into academic instruction may reduce aversive features of instruction, and thus, decrease challenging behaviors related to escape and avoidance. This study investigated whether students who preferred technology-based tasks would demonstrate improved behavior during computer-assisted instruction (CAI). Participants were three students with intellectual or developmental disabilities (7 to 9 years old). Researchers measured student preference for technology-based leisure and academic activities through multiple-stimulus without replacement (MSWO) and concurrent operant analysis (COA) formats. Researchers then compared levels of challenging behavior, academic engagement, and mastery of academic content during paper-based and CAI (i.e., tablet computer-based) literacy instruction. Results indicated that CAI was associated with decreased challenging behavior and increased academic engagement for two of three participants and higher mastery test scores for one participant. Although there were mixed levels of correspondence between initial preference assessments and experimental results, post-intervention concurrent chains assessments indicated that all participants preferred CAI. These findings will be described in relation to their limitations, future directions for research, and impact on practitioners.
Differences in Acquisition of Functional Communication Response for Social Positive Reinforcers
STEPHANIE TRAUSCHKE (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta/Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at increased risk of presenting with problem behaviors (Kanne & Mazurek, 2011; Jang, Dixon, Tarbox, & Granpeesheh, 2011; Emerson et al., 2001). A functional analysis and functional analysis informed treatment are considered the gold standard to address problem behavior. Functional communication training (FCT) is an effective, function-based procedure used to treat problem behavior in children diagnosed with ASD (Heath, Ganz, Parker, Burke, & Ninci, 2015); however, little is known about acquisition of the communication response. There is evidence that the function of the behavior may influence proficiency of mand modality in FCT (Falcomata, Shpall, Ringdahl, Ferguson, & Swinnea, 2017), suggesting that function may influence mand acquisition during FCT. This study reviews data from individuals 2-21 years old who were diagnosed with a developmental delay and seen an intensive outpatient program for the assessment and treatment of problem behavior. All participants received a functional analysis which identified a tangible and attention function and FCT was utilized as a treatment component. Results suggest differences surrounding the acquisition of the communication response for social positive reinforcers. Explanation of finding (e.g., saliency of stimuli and preference assessments) and implications for treatment will be discussed.



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