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 #67
CE Offered: BACB
Competition Time! Current Research in the Role of Competing Stimuli and Matched Stimulation in the Treatment of Automatically Maintained Problem Behavior
Saturday, May 23, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 202B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cormac MacManus (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Cormac MacManus, M.S.

In this symposium, we will review strategies for utilizing competing stimuli and matched stimulation to reduce automatically maintained problem behavior in children with autism. The first presenter will explore procedural variations of delivering competing stimuli to treat automatically maintained stereotypy. This included presenting alternative stimuli when item contact is absent and in the absence of functional engagement providing manual prompting to engage appropriately. Data are presented on item contact and functional engagement along with stereotypy. Our second presenter will share data comparing the implementation of matched stimulation versus preferred stimulation on reducing stereotypy in children with autism during work sessions, a setting in which previous matched stimulation research has yet to target. Data will be presented on engagement in stereotypy and on-task behavior during sessions. The final presenter will review data evaluating the competing stimulus assessment (CSA) in identifying appropriate treatment for automatically and attention-maintained problem behavior. The CSA in this study was designed to match the function and topography of the target behaviors.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): automatic reinforcement, competing stimuli, matched stimulation, stereotypy
Target Audience:

BCBAs; clinicians working with individuals with automatically maintained problem behavior

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe methods of delivering competing items to treat automatically maintained problem behavior 2. Describe matched stimulation as a treatment for automatically maintained problem behavior 3. Describe the utility of the competing stimulus assessment to identify stimuli to treat automatically maintained problem behavior and behavior maintained by attention
Examining Procedural Variations of Delivering Competing Stimuli in the Treatment of Stereotypy
JULIA TOUHEY (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Catlyn LiVolsi (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Rooker et al. (2018) reviewed the literature for treating automatically reinforced self-injurious behavior. They found that NCR was a commonly effective procedure particularly when informed by a competing stimulus assessment. Jennett et al. (2011) examined the effects of representing stimuli and response blocking on competing with engagement in SIB and suggested that both techniques could enhance treatment outcomes. The present experiment sought to examine the effects of competing stimuli on two participants’ automatically reinforced stereotypy. A standard functional analysis of motor stereotypy was conducted. Next, three effective competing stimuli were identified via a competing stimulus assessment. Then two procedural variations were examined, presenting an alternative competing stimulus when item contact was absent and providing redirection to functional engagement with the stimulus. Both item contact and functional engagement with the stimulus were evaluated along with stereotypy. Interobserver agreement data were collected in at least 33% of sessions in each condition for all dependent measures and mean total agreement was above 85% for each measure. Results suggest that for one participant both procedural variations were associated with lower levels of stereotypy and higher levels of appropriate behavior, and for the other participant redirection to functional engagement was necessary to achieve desired outcomes.

Using Matched Stimulation to Decrease Motor Stereotypy of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder During Work Sessions

SABINE SCOTT (Pomona College), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

The present study investigated the efficacy of matched stimulation (MS) on reducing frequency of stereotypic behavior for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during their work sessions. Children with ASD engage in rigid, repetitive, stereotyped behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), and this behavior is often targeted for reduction, because it can interfere with appropriate behavior and engagement with learning opportunities (Cunningham & Schreibman, 2008). Research has demonstrated matched stimulation’s efficacy in reducing motor stereotypy during periods of continuous, non-contingent access (Gunter et al., 1993; Lanovaz et al., 2009; Lanovaz et al., 2012; Lanovaz et al., 2011; Love et al., 2012; Luiseli et al., 2004; Rapp, 2006; Rapp, 2007), but no previous study has examined the implementation of matched stimulation in short intervals while the participant is engaged in a work session. Compared to baseline sessions and preferred stimulation sessions, four of five participants demonstrated a decrease in stereotypic behavior during matched stimulation sessions with no impact on measures of on-task behavior.

Evaluation of Competing Stimulus Assessment in Identifying Treatment for Automatically and Attention Maintained Challenging Behavior
JENNIFER GRABOYES CAMBLIN (The Faison Center, Inc.), Nicholas Vanderburg (The Faison Center Inc), Jody Liesfeld (The Faison School), Timothy Corallo (The Faison Center), Eli T. Newcomb (The Faison Center)
Abstract: Competing stimulus assessment (CSA) has been widely used to identify stimuli that are associated with reduced rates of dangerous or disruptive behavior. Much of the research in this area has focused on automatically maintained behavior, though some recent iterations of the assessment have also addressed socially mediated functions. In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of stimuli identified during assessment for three students with autism in a specialized education setting. For each participant, we conducted a functional analysis followed by a CSA, which was specifically designed to match the function and topography of the target behavior. Initial assessment results yielded multiple tangible and edible items that effectively competed with challenging behavior for two of three students. The third student required an additional modification to the traditional competing stimulus assessment, which included promoted use of alternative self-control equipment. Stimuli associated with lower rates of challenging behavior were used in combination with other interventions, to address each student’s target behavior.



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