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 #126
CE Offered: BACB
Empirically Identifying Consequences for Clinical Application
Sunday, May 24, 2015
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Grand Ballroom C1 (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Eileen M. Roscoe, Ph.D.

Various pre-assessments have been developed to increase the efficacy of consequences delivered during intervention. For example, stimulus preference assessments, demand assessments, and stimulus avoidance assessments have been found useful in predicting the effects of consequences for promoting effective behavior change. The current symposium includes three papers describing procedures for empirically deriving and systematically evaluating various consequences, including positive reinforcers, negative reinforcers, and punishers. In the first paper, preference assessment outcomes from independent and combined arrays of three stimulus categories, including edible items, leisure items, and forms of attention, will be reviewed. The author will also share reinforcer assessment data depicting the relative reinforcing efficacy of items from each stimulus category. The author of the second paper will describe a study including a demand assessment and a subsequent negative reinforcer assessment. The potential utility of a progressive-ratio schedule for determining the relative efficacy of negative reinforcers will be discussed. In the third paper, the author will present data from a retrospective review of over 30 stimulus avoidance assessments. The potential utility of 5-min versus 10-min session durations and the effects of using a latency measure will be discussed.

Keyword(s): negative-reinforcer assessment, preference assessment, reinforcer asssessment, stimulus-avoidance assessment
Assessment of the Preference and Reinforcing Efficacy of Attention Relative to Edible and Leisure Items
NICOLE GOLDBERG (Western New England University), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children), Hailee Stuesser (The New England Center for Children), Maureen Kelly (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Identifying reinforcers is a critical step for developing skill acquisition programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. A number of preference assessment formats have been used for identifying preferences, particularly with edible and leisure items. However, few studies have systematically evaluated individual preferences for attention in individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the preference and reinforcing efficacy of edible items, leisure items, and forms of attention. Three individuals with an autism spectrum disorder participated. Independent and combined preference assessments of three stimulus categories, including edible items, leisure items, and forms of attention, were conducted. Next, a reinforcer assessment was conducted to determine the relative and absolute reinforcing efficacy of the top-ranked items from each stimulus category. Results showed that edible items were more preferred than leisure items and attention, and leisure items were more preferred than attention. Results of the reinforcer assessment indicated that edible items consistently functioned as more potent reinforcers than leisure items and attention. However, the reinforcing efficacy of leisure items and attention varied across participants.

A Comparison of the Efficiency of Stimulus Avoidance Assessments

KERRI C. SUITER (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Seth B. Clark (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Faith Cawthon (Marcus Autism Center), Christina Simmons (University of Georgia)

Reinforcement-based strategies alone are not always sufficient to produce clinically significant reductions in problem behavior. In such situations, the addition of a response-reduction procedure to reinforcement-based strategies may be required (Fisher, Piazza, Bowman, Hagopian, & Langdon, 1994). A stimulus avoidance assessment, which consists of the time-based application of potential reductive procedures, has been shown to be an effective means of determining the appropriate procedure to reduce problem behavior (Fisher, Piazza, Bowman, Kurtz, Sherer, & Lachman, 1994). However, very little research on this assessment has been conducted since its original publication. This current paper consisted of a retrospective chart review of over 30 stimulus avoidance assessments. Assessments were evaluated as 5 minute and 10 minute sessions to determine if the same procedure would have been selected using a shorter session duration. In addition stability of series and latency of the first avoidant movement/negative vocalization were evaluated using 5 minute and 10 minute session duration to determine the minimum number of series needed and if latency would be a viable alternative measure of adverseness. The results will be discussed in terms of the impact of each of these components on efficiency the assessment.


Demand Assessment for Quantifying the Value of Negative Reinforcers Using a Progressive Ratio Schedule with a Fixed Positive Reinforcer

MEGAN KLIEBERT (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Seth B. Clark (Marcus Autism Center), Ally Coleman (Marcus Autism Center), Yoshiko Smith (Marcus Autism Center), Kerri C. Suiter (Marcus Autism Center)

Several studies have used progressive ratio (PR) schedules to evaluate the efficacy of positive reinforcers (e.g., Roane, Lerman, & Vorndran, 2001). Yet there are no direct assessment procedures for quantifying the value of negative reinforcers. The current study used breakpoints when responding on PR schedules for various tasks to quantify the value of negative reinforcement in the form of escape from those tasks. Following a demand assessment that ranked demands by latency to first instance of problem behavior, high- and low-aversive demands were selected for inclusion in a PR assessment. During the PR assessment, participants earned access to a highly-preferred edible or leisure item on increasing schedules of reinforcement. Higher breakpoints were observed for the low-aversive task and lower breakpoints were observed for the high-aversive task. These preliminary results suggest that this method of quantifying reinforcer value may be well suited for the purpose of determining the value of escape/avoidance of various negative reinforcers. Implications of these results will be discussed, including the possibility that the PR assessment could assist in developing effective treatments for problem behavior maintained by escape/avoidance.




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