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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #15
CE Offered: BACB
Repetitive Behavior in ASD: Current Trends in Research and Practice
Saturday, May 26, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall C
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tracy Jane Raulston (Penn State)
Discussant: Amarie Carnett (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Amarie Carnett, Ph.D.

Rigid and repetitive patterns and/or interests (RRBIs) are a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In comparison to social-communication interventions for children with ASD, surprising little is known about the effectiveness, implementation, and current practices being delivered RRBIs. Several analytic practices show a strong evidence-base or promise in reducing RRBIs or other co-occurring maladaptive behaviors (National Autism Center, 2015). There are several areas of imperative inquiry. In this symposium, two studies will be presented. The first study will present data from an online survey of practices implemented by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) for children (birth to age 8) across a variety of sub-topographies of repetitive behavior (e.g., stereotypy, insistence on sameness). The second study will present findings for a meta-analysis on interventions for vocal stereotypy with a focus on the implications of measurement differences. Discussed will be gaps in extant literature and implications of findings for science and practice.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): repetitive behavior, rigid behavior, stereotypy, vocal stereotypy
Target Audience:

The target audience for this presentation are researchers and practitioners who work with individuals with autism who engage in rigid and/or repetitive patterns of behavior and/or interests.


Early Interventions for Repetitive Behavior in Autism: An Online Survey of Practices by Behavior Analysts

SARAH GRACE HANSEN (Georgia State University), Tracy Jane Raulston (Penn State), Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon), Laura Lee McIntyre (University of Oregon)

The evidence base of interventions to treat rigid and repetitive patterns of behavior and/or interests (RRBIs) in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is growing. Some researchers have asserted that some repetitive behavior can actually be adaptive for infants and young children and are present in typical development. However, as RRBIs are a core feature of ASD, the reduction of these behavioral topographies is often targeted in clinical practice. Yet, surprisingly little is known about what practices are actually being implemented in the field. An online survey was distributed to Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) who indicated that they worked with young children with ASD. A total of 128 BCBAs submitted complete entires. Survey items included BCBAs frequency of use of 15 practices including: antecedent-based embedded perseverative interests, consequence-based embedded perseverative interests, differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI), differential reinforcement of other or zero rates of behavior (DRO), differential reinforcement of variable behavior (DRV), environmental enrichment, functional communication training (FCT), noncontingent or time based schedules of reinforcement, overcorrection, physical exercise, response blocking, response cost, response interruption redirection (RIRD), sensory extinction, skill enrichment, visual and/or cues and 1 assessment (functional analysis). Additionally, we collected data on age ranges (i.e., birth to three year olds, three to five year olds, and five to eight year olds) with which BCBAs implemented or supervised implementation of each intervention and their perceptions of the effectiveness of each intervention. Finally, we collected a variety of demographic data. Preliminary analyses revealed that the most common practices implemented were: environmental enrichment, skill enrichment, visual and/or verbal cues, FCT, and RIRD. The interventions implemented the least were response cost, overcorrection, sensory extinction, and DRV. The interventions BCBAs rated the most effective were FCT, DRI, RIRD, and consequence-based embedded perseverative interests. The interventions that were rated the least effective were DRV, response cost, overcorrection, and physical exercise. Correlates to usage and perceptions of effectiveness including educational background, training, practice setting, and clientele will be discussed, as well as implications for future research and practice.


A Meta-Analysis of Automatically-Maintained Vocal Stereotypy in Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder

THEONI MANTZOROS (Pennsylvania State University), Ashley McCoy (Pennsylvania State University), David L. Lee (Pennsylvania State University)

Vocal stereotypy (VS) is a behavior of concern for many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Engagement in VS can be detrimental in that it may be stigmatizing in social settings and interfere with performance on academic and vocational tasks. A first step in treating VS is to determine function through a functional analysis or functional behavior assessment. Interventions can then be developed based on the specific function of the VS. Twenty-seven studies were identified incorporating 78 participants diagnosed with ASD who engaged in automatically-maintained VS. In this presentation the effects of the available treatments for automatically-reinforced VS will be discussed. Interventions include matched stimulation, differential reinforcement, response interruption and redirection (RIRD), and other punishment procedures. Preliminary analyses indicate that there are multiple interventions in the literature which are effective in decreasing automatically-reinforced VS, with Tau-U values suggesting treatment effects in the medium to large range. Results of RIRD were further assessed based on the data collection methodology utilized in individual studies which included whole session and interrupted session data collection. A limitation of the extant literature is the degree to which the groups vary within each intervention, as well as the limited number of participants per treatment. Implications for practice and future research will be discussed.




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