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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #471
Translational Research: Setting, Prompt and Reinforcement Schedule Effects on Response Persistence for Children with Autism
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
006C (CC)
Area: EAB/AUT; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa)
Discussant: Christopher A. Podlesnik (Florida Institure of Technology)

Basic research studies on treatment relapse have shown that the strength of a target response can be influenced by variations in independent variables such as reinforcement schedules, context, and stimuli presented during baseline and extinction sessions. Most of these studies have been conducted in animal laboratories that allow for high levels of precision and consistency in the animals immediate history. The findings from these studies may have significance for the design of treatments to address problem behaviors shown by children with developmental disabilities. Four translational studies on the persistence of appropriate communicative responses and/or problem behavior for children with autism will be presented. The presentations include: (a) an evaluation of response renewal following communication training in home settings, (b) an evaluation of the effects of different prompt schedules during treatment on the persistence of behavior following treatment, (c) an examination of the results of high rate versus low rate differential reinforcement schedules on response persistence, and (d) an evaluation factors influencing the effects of noncontingent reinforcement schedules on the persistence of target behavior. Dr. Chris Podlesnik will discuss the studies and the findings at the conclusion of the paper presentations.

Keyword(s): Communication Training, Reinforcement Schedule, Response Persistence, Translational Research
Evaluation of Renewal and Resurgence of Problem Behavior during Functional Communication Training Conducted via Telehealth
ALYSSA N. SUESS (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Jessica Detrick (The University of Iowa )
Abstract: Previous research suggests that differential reinforcement procedures may inadvertently strengthen problem behavior resulting in relapse. The current study evaluated one potential solution based on Mace et al. (2010), which involved initially implementing functional communication training (FCT) within a context with a minimal history of reinforcement for problem behavior. Following initial treatment, we evaluated generalization of manding to the treatment context and then evaluated the maintenance of treatment during subsequent extinction challenges. Participants were four young children diagnosed with autism whose problem behavior was maintained by negative reinforcement. Parents implemented all procedures in their homes within multielement designs with coaching provided via telehealth. IOA was collected on 30% of sessions and averaged at least 90% across participants. Following an extinction baseline, FCT was implemented in three training contexts that had minimal history of reinforcement for problem behavior. Common stimuli from the treatment context were incorporated into the training contexts to program for generalization. FCT was then implemented in the treatment context, and extinction probes were conducted intermittently throughout treatment. Results demonstrated little to no renewal of problem behavior occurred in the treatment context. Furthermore, little to no demand fading was needed to maintain treatment effects with minimal resurgence during extinction.
Further Evaluation of Response Persistence Following FCT: The Role of Response Prompting
KRISTINA VARGO (Sam Houston State University), Joel Eric Ringdahl (Southern Illinois University), Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Patrick Romani (The University of Iowa), Stephen E. Ryan (The University of Iowa), Anna Ing (The University of Iowa)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is the most widely used treatment for severe behavior problems with individuals with developmental disabilities. Typically, this approach includes two components: (a) discontinuing the response- reinforcer relation between problem behavior and reinforcement, and (b) delivering functional reinforcers contingent on appropriate communication. Previous research demonstrated the robustness of FCT across different topographies of problem behavior and appropriate communicative responses (e.g., vocal requests, manual signs). However, there is little research regarding the maintenance of treatment effects when FCT is disrupted (see, Wacker et al., 2010 for an exception). In the current investigation, persistence of communication was evaluated following two treatment conditions for a child with autism: (a) a dense rate of prompts to communicate (i.e., 2 prompts per minute) and (b) a lean rate of prompts to communicate (i.e., 0.2 prompts per min). Reinforcement rates were kept similar across the conditions. The dense prompt rate yielded greater persistence of communication suggesting that specific treatment components such as prompt density may influence the persistence of a response outside of treatment. Additional clinical applications and directions for future research will be discussed. Interobserver agreement scores were calculated for 30% of all sessions, and met a criterion of 90% agreement.
Examing Behavioral Persistence Following High-Rate and Low-Rate Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior
F. CHARLES MACE (Nova Southeastern University), Kristina Samour (Nova Southeastern University ), Tara M. Sheehan (Mailman Segal Institute), John A. Nevin (University of New Hampshire)
Abstract: When effective reinforcers for problem behavior can be identified by functional analysis, withholding those reinforcers during extinction while reinforcing alternative behavior has been effective in reducing many forms of problem behavior in children with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). However, alternative reinforcement delivered in the same setting where target behavior occurs has been found to increase the persistence of that behavior, and to increase relapse when alternative reinforcement is discontinued. These findings have been obtained in basic, translational, and clinical research and are predicted by Behavioral Momentum Theory (BMT). To evaluate the effects of reinforcer rate for alternative behavior (DRA) on the level and persistence of analog problem behavior during extinction when DRA is discontinued, high-rate and low-rate DRA treatment components were alternately implemented in a multiple schedule arrangement. Results showed that high-rate and low-rate DRA were about equally effective in reducing target behavior. However, target behavior was more resistant to extinction following treatment with high-rate DRA. Implications for designing behavioral treatments utilizing DRA will be discussed.
Using Behavioral Momentum Theory to Evaluate the Effects of Discriminability and Alternative Reinforcement on Noncontingent Reinforcement and Persistence During Extinction
VALDEEP SAINI (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is a widely researched and empirically supported treatment for problem behavior. However, conceptual and quantitative derivations of behavioral momentum theory (BMT), along with some empirical findings, suggest that certain aspects of treatment may promote response persistence in some circumstances. Using children with autism we investigated these aspects and circumstances. In Study 1 we evaluated the effects of increasing the discriminability of noncontingent reinforcer deliveries during NCR and a subsequent extinction (EXT) challenge. In Study 2 we evaluated the relative effects of NCR delivered with and without EXT on the rapidity of reductions in the target response and on levels of persistence during an EXT challenge. Results of Study 1 suggested that increasing the discriminability of noncontingent reinforcer deliveries can increase the effectiveness of NCR and decrease response persistence during an EXT challenge. Results of Study 2 suggest that levels of response persistence are much higher when NCR is superimposed over ongoing reinforcement for the target response (i.e., NCR w/o EXT) than when contingent reinforcement is discontinued concomitant with the introduction of NCR (i.e., NCR with EXT). Potential refinements of NCR based on these findings are discussed in relation to conceptual and quantitative aspects of behavioral momentum theory.



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