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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #557
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advancements in the Assessment and Treatment of Automatically Reinforced Behavior
Monday, May 30, 2022
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 258B
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Alyssa Rojas (University of South Florida)
CE Instructor: Alyssa Rojas, M.S.

This symposium includes three papers that involve the assessment and treatment of automatically reinforced behavior. In the first paper, Kacie McGarry will present a literature review summarizing treatment approaches for automatically reinforced stereotypy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the past 7 years. Results of the literature review showed punishment-based procedures were overall more effective at decreasing stereotypy. There was also an increasing trend in evaluations comparing effectiveness of treatments but few studies conducting maintenance, generalization, or schedule thinning within the evaluation. Implications for best practices and future research will be discussed. In the second paper, Katie Haggerty will present a study describing a process to subtype automatically reinforced stereotypy based upon functional analyses and prescribe treatments based upon the subtype. Results of the study were consistent with previous research on automatically reinforced self-injury. In the third paper, Mary Llinas will present a study comparing different schedules of noncontingent access to matched stimuli during the treatment of automatically reinforced stereotypy. Results showed that continuous access to competing items and activities was necessary to decrease stereotypy.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): automatic reinforcement, environmental enrichment, stereotypy
Target Audience:

Target Audience is BCBAs, Behavior Analysis Students, Direct Care staff working with individuals with ASD and related disabilities.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe research trends for treatment evaluations for automatically reinforced stereotypy (2) Discuss how functional analysis methodology can be used to subtype stereotypic behavior and describe the different treatment approaches based upon subtypes. (3) Describe competing stimuli assessments and how different schedules of access to competing stimuli affect levels of automatically reinforced stereotypy.
Recent Research Trends in the Treatment of Automatically Reinforced Stereotypy: A Review of the Literature
KACIE MCGARRY (Florida Institute of Technology ), Kimberly Sloman (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment/ Florida Institute of Technology ), Mary Louise Lewis (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: In this literature review, we review studies from January 2014 to May 2020 that aimed to reduce lower-order stereotypy, defined as restrictive and repetitive behavior. Studies included in the present review were those in which (a) a functional behavior assessment identified automatic reinforcement to be the maintaining variable (b) direct observation and measurement of (c) stereotypy was conducted to (d) evaluate an intervention to reduce lower-order stereotypy. Studies that met the criteria for inclusion were evaluated along with a number of dimensions related to publication characteristics, subject and setting characteristics, quality of operational definitions, treatment categories, and the efficacy of treatment. Results of this literature review found the non-reporting of demographic and treatment variables led to ethical confounds and the inability to evaluate the relationship between demographic variables and treatment effects. This presentation will review demographic variables, treatment considerations, and future research considerations.
Subtyping Stereotypy and Delineating Effective Type-Based Treatment
KATHERINE HAGGERTY (Stride Autism Centers), Michael E. Kelley (University of Scranton), Justine Henry (Florida Institute of Technology ), Kimberly Sloman (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment/ Florida Institute of Technology ), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)
Abstract: Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often engage in automatically reinforced stereotypic behaviors, which are repetitive in nature, lack variability, and persist over time with no identifiable social function. We adapted subtyping procedures designed for self-injurious behavior to categorize stereotypy based on behavioral patterns generated in a competing items assessments and pairwise functional analysis. In Study 1, we demonstrated the efficacy of retrospective subtyping for stereotypy. In Study 2, we demonstrated the efficacy of prospective subtyping for stereotypy as a guide for treatment selection. In Study 3, we tested the predictive validity of the prospective subtyping for stereotypy by implementing targeted interventions for two of three participants. Results of Studies 1 and 2 were consistent with past research on automatically reinforced self-injurious behavior. Results of Study 3 demonstrated an effective, data-based approach to treatment selection for automatically maintained stereotypy.

A Comparison of Continuous, Dense, and Lean Schedules of Noncontingent Access to Matched Competing Stimuli to Reduce Stereotypy

MARY LLINAS (Florida Institute of Technology ), David A. Wilder (Florida Institute of Technology), Ryan Joseph Walz (ABA Technologies, Inc. )

Noncontingent or response-independent access to matched, competing stimuli has been shown to be effective to decrease automatically maintained challenging behavior. Despite research on its effectiveness, various schedules of noncontingent access to matched competing stimuli have not been directly compared. The purpose of the current study was to compare the effectiveness of and preference for continuous, dense (fixed-time 30 s), and lean (fixed-time 60 s) schedules of noncontingent access to matched competing stimuli to decrease automatically maintained stereotypy exhibited by two children with autism. We also conducted a within session analysis of the lean condition to examine possible mechanisms responsible for the effects of the procedure. The results showed that the continuous schedule was most effective and most preferred to reduce stereotypy for both participants. A social validity measure indicated that the participant's caregivers approved of and preferred the continuous schedule.




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