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; Online; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #375
CE Offered: BACB
Utilizing Pairing Procedures to Decrease Challenging Behaviors in Preschoolers With Autism
Monday, May 25, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amanda M. Sumney (Southwest Autism Research)
CE Instructor: Rachel McIntosh, M.A.

Current literature suggests most pairing procedures are used to teach the acquisition of skill, while few studies aim to decrease challenging behaviors through the use of stimulus or verbal pairing procedures. The presentations in this symposium will examine the use of pairing in the form of visual stimuli, as well as pairing specific verbal cues, to target a decrease in challenging behaviors surrounding restricted, repetitive interests and compliance, in preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first presentation will include research on the use of green and red 2D visuals to decrease the presence of inappropriate train behavior and sounds, in a three-year-old male with autism. The second presentation will examine an intervention focused on increasing compliance and flexible responding within a classroom setting for three males with ASD, by pairing specific verbal cues for each expected response. The third presentation will include research on decreasing the frequency of inappropriate door-related behaviors demonstrated by three, three-year-old males with ASD, through the use of 2D visuals located on the doors and specific rules delivered to each participant. Results from all three interventions suggest that using stimulus and/or verbal pairing procedures, along with systematic fading techniques and schedules of reinforcement, are effective in increasing the opportunities for learning by decreasing challenging and repetitive behaviors.

Target Audience:

The target audience for this symposium is practicing behavior analysts.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to define and identify interventions utilizing various methods of pairing procedures, how to address restricted, repetitive behaviors that inhibit learning, and how to teach compliance with a self-advocacy component to preschool-age children.

Decreasing Fixated Interest Behaviors During Play-Based Activities Using a Stimulus Pairing Procedure

AMANDA M. SUMNEY (Southwest Autism Research)

Engaging in highly restricted play or having fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity, is a core symptom associated with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis (DSM-V). This may result in excessive amounts of time spent engaging with, or talking about, items of a specific theme. In the current study, a stimulus pairing intervention was utilized to decrease the presence of train-related fixated interest behaviors as demonstrated by a four-year-old male with autism. Teaching phases included systematically increasing the amount of time the participant was required to refrain from engaging in train-related behaviors or sounds in the presence of a red 2-D picture card. Train-related fixated interest behaviors were encouraged during optional, designated breaks within a specified space, as identified by a green 2-D picture card. This space encouraged cooperative play between the participant and clinician, with train materials present. Results suggest this intervention produced an effective way to decrease the presence of fixated interest behaviors, and to increase engagement with a variety of age-appropriate activities.


Using Stimulus Control to Teach Compliant and Flexible Responding With Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder


For individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning to discriminate between stimuli can influence the ability to respond to multiple cues across varying contexts. These foundational skills can lead to larger gains in the generalization of skills, which supports an overall greater flexibility for individuals with ASD. By learning to increase flexibility when responding to multiple cues, individuals can learn to discriminate when inflexibility is acceptable. The goal of the present study was to use discrimination training to teach three children with ASD to comply with negotiable versus non-negotiable demands in a classroom setting, along with the reduction of stereotyped responses. Compliant responses to both non-negotiable and negotiable demands were reinforced on a fixed-ratio schedule. The participants received tokens for compliant responses, and the reinforcement schedule was thinned as each participant’s compliant behavior improved. Non-compliance to negotiable demands was also reinforced by allowing escape from the demand. During instances of non-compliance to non-negotiable demands, researchers utilized escape extinction. Results demonstrate improvement in each child’s compliant behavior to non-negotiable demands, as well as increased compliance with negotiable demands. In addition, data reveal a reduction in stereotyped and/or defiant behaviors for all children compared to baseline levels, for both types of demands.


Utilizing a Stimulus Pairing Procedure to Decrease Restrictive Behaviors Within School Settings


Individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly engage in high rates of and high intensity restrictive or repetitive behaviors (DSM-V). These may lead to stigmatization, decreased opportunities to learn from the environment, and in extreme cases, may put an individual at risk for injury or even death. The current study examined the use of a stimulus pairing intervention to decrease the frequency of door-related restrictive behaviors as demonstrated by three, three-year-old males with autism. Colored cards were introduced and paired with specific rules to teach the individuals when a door was and was not accessible, and an error correction procedure was put in place. Door-related restrictive behaviors were encouraged with designated doors that did not affect the safety of the individual, as identified by a green 2-D picture card. Results suggest this intervention produced an effective way to decrease the presence of door-related behaviors for all participants. Future research includes determining effective training techniques to allow caregivers to implement similar stimulus pairing procedures in order to promote maintenance and generalization of the learned skill.




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Modifed by Eddie Soh