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 #166
CE Offered: BACB
Clinical Applications of Delay Discounting
Sunday, May 24, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
217B (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University )
CE Instructor: Robert LaRue, Ph.D.
Abstract: Delay discounting refers to the decline in the present value of a reward as a function of the delay to its receipt. Simply put, delay discounting is an index of impulsivity that reflects an individual’s preference for smaller, immediate rewards to larger, delayed rewards (e.g., Frederick, 2006). The extent to which individuals select rewards that arrive sooner rather than later may provide useful information that can influence intervention outcomes. Delay discounting procedures can be applied to a number of human conditions to provide valuable clinical information to guide decision making. These concepts can be applied to such topics as the assessment and treatment of impulsivity in individuals with ASDs, the effects of discounting on the treatment integrity with which caregivers implement behavioral programs, and to help to describe the nature of social deficits in college students with ASDs. The current symposium outlines some unique applications for delay discounting in clinical practice.
Keyword(s): autism, behavioral treatment, delay discounting, social discounting

An Evaluation of the Effects of Rules and Verbal Instruction on Delay Discounting in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

ERICA DASHOW (Douglass Developmental Disabilites Center, Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University ), Robert W. Isenhower (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Mikala Hanson (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Rachel Mislavsky (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Jennifer Krych (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Kimberly Sloman (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University ), Ethan Eisdorfer (Rutgers University)

Impulsivity is a common concern in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). While not a defining characteristic of ASDs, the presence of impulsivity can be pervasive and can dramatically affect the intervention process. Delay discounting refers to the decrease in the present value of reinforcers as a function of the delay of their receipt. In other words, the value of reinforcers often decreases as the length of time one has to wait for them increases. Researchers have outlined some procedures for evaluating delay discounting in human populations. However, much of this research is limited to hypothetical choices with typically developing populations. The purpose of the current investigation was the employ delay discounting procedures with individuals with ASDs. In the investigation, participants were given choices between an impulsive choice (a sooner smaller amount of reinforcement) and a self-controlled choice (accepting a delayed, larger amount of reinforcement). Indifference points (the point at which an individual switches from the smaller-sooner to larger-later reinforcement) were plotted. A waiting protocol involving a rule card was implemented in an effort to affect impulsiveness. The preliminary results suggest that using delay discounting procedures may inform treatment development for this clinical population.

Discounting of Treatment Outcomes Based on Effort
ALLY COLEMAN (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Caregiver commitment in behavioral treatments is vital for the treatments to succeed. The ways in which caregivers make treatments decisions can be influenced by the tendency to discount the value of delayed rewards, or “delay discounting”. Call et al. (2014) adapted the use of delay discounting methodology to assess the degrees to which caregivers discount treatment outcomes based on the percentage of treatment goals for problem behavior would be met. Treatment factors other than delay to outcomes may affect parent engagement, such as effort required to implement treatment. The present study aimed to adapt the degree to which caregivers delay treatment outcomes based on the effort required to implement the treatment. Effort was defined as the amount of time, energy, money, and effort required to implement the treatment. Six caregivers of children in a day-treatment program designed to assess and treat severe problem behavior completed a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire that compared effort required to implement treatment to the percentage of treatment goals that would hypothetically be met. Results indicate that the participants delayed treatment outcomes based on the amount of effort required to implement the treatment.
Examining Social Discounting by College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
CHRISTINA SIMMONS (University of Georgia), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Rachlin and Jones (2007) first demonstrated that it is possible to adapt the delay discounting model and methods to evaluate whether individuals show similar discounting based on “social proximity.” It has also been hypothesized that the social impairments that are a core deficit of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are due to the degree to which individuals with ASD value social interactions. Thus, it seems reasonable that individuals with ASD may display greater social discounting than the general college student population that participated in the study by Rachlin and Jones. Participants in the current study included college students 18 years of age and older with ASD. Each participant completed an online social discounting questionnaire, adapted from Rachlin and Jones’ prior study. The degree to which each participant discounted monetary values at various social distances was compared to the data of Rachlin and Jones. Preliminary results suggest that social discounting in individuals with ASD follows the same response pattern (i.e., hyperbolic function) as in the general college student population; however, individuals with ASD demonstrate steeper discounting than those in the general college student population.



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