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 #429
CE Offered: BACB
Advancements in Preference Research: Stability, Displacement, and Assessment of Vocational tasks
Monday, May 30, 2022
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 258B
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tara A. Fahmie (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
CE Instructor: Tara A. Fahmie, Ph.D.

Preference assessments are a defining feature of individualized behavior analytic therapy. Incorporation of client preferences, and maximization of choice making opportunities, have recently been suggested as strategies for trauma informed (Rajaraman et al., 2021) and culturally responsive care (Fong et al., 2016). This symposium includes three studies on preference assessments with individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. The first presenter evaluated video-based preference assessments for vocational tasks in transition-aged individuals. The second presenter evaluated the stability of edible and leisure assessments in preschool-aged children. The third presenter extended research on preference displacement by including edible, leisure, and social stimuli. Results of these studies highlight the flexibility of preference assessments and suggest best practices for their use.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): preference assessment, preference displacement, preference stability, vocational preference
Target Audience:

Students, researchers, and practitioners

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe a metric for preference stability (2) Define displacement of stimuli within a combined multiple stimulus without replacement assessment (3) Identify a preference format that can be used to assess vocational preferences

Evaluation of Vocational Video-Based Preference Assessments for Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

COURTNEY LYNN KANE (Caldwell University), Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell University), Tina Marie Covington (Anderson Center for Autism), Meghan Deshais (Rutgers University)

Employment is a priority for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Vocational preference assessments (VPAs) have led to the identification of preferred vocational tasks. Benefits of providing access to highly preferred vocational tasks for individuals with ASD include enhancing productivity, task engagement, and reducing problem behavior. Using videos when evaluating vocational task preference has resulted in identifying preferred tasks and may better communicate task requirements than presenting objects or pictures. The role of skill acquisition on vocational preference has been explored in few studies. Further, discrimination skills that may be important for successful use of VPAs remain unclear. The purpose of our study was to extend past research by evaluating the utility of a video-based VPAs to identify preferred vocational tasks for transition-aged individuals with ASD, carefully assess participants’ discrimination skills (e.g., picture-to-object matching), and subsequently evaluate vocational preference pre- and post- acquisition of the vocational task. We anticipate video-based VPAs will show differentiated preference hierarchies across tasks per participant, that participants will acquire both low- and high-preferred vocational tasks, and that vocational preference may be impacted by acquisition of the task. Implications and areas of future research will be discussed.


An Evaluation of Preference Stability Within Multiple Stimulus Without Replacement Preference Assessments in Children With Autism

ISAAC JOSEPH MELANSON (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Alexandria Thomas (Michigan State University), Emma Seliina Sipila-Thomas (Michigan State University ), David Ray Gutierrez Miranda (Purdue University), Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University)

Individuals who engage in patterns of preference stability during multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessments may require less frequent preference assessments, which can save instructional time and resources. Yet, no study to date has assessed stability within rounds of the same preference assessment (rounds 1-5 in a MSWO preference assessment). The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of presentations of assessment rounds on preference stability during subsequent rounds of a MSWO preference assessment in preschool aged children with autism. We conducted a secondary data analysis based on videos recorded during Sipila-Thomas et al. (2021) and calculated preference stability across consecutive rounds using Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients (Spearman’s ??) for 17 participants with autism and across 40 MSWO preference assessments. Additionally, we present a new definition for patterns of stability and variability across rounds of a MSWO preference assessment. We observed patterns of preference stability for 24 out of the 40 assessments (60%) indicating that pre-school aged children with autism in this study were slightly more likely to engage in patterns of preference stability than patterns of preference variability within the same preference assessment. The implications of these results will be discussed.


Preference and Reinforcing Efficacy of Edible, Leisure, and Social Interaction Stimuli in Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder

ANGELICA J SEDANO (Kaleidoscope ABA Therapy ), Nicole Goldberg (New England Center for Children), Zoe Newman (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)

Preference assessments that include combined-category stimulus arrays of edible and leisure stimuli can result in displacement effects, in which a stimulus that is identified as less preferred in a preference assessment is found to function as a reinforcer in a reinforcer assessment. However, it is unclear whether the inclusion of social interaction in combined-category arrays would result in displacement effects. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate potential displacement effects in combined-category stimulus arrays of edible, leisure, and social stimuli for five individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). First, single category pictorially based paired-stimulus preference assessments were implemented to identify highly preferred edible, leisure, and social stimuli. The top two ranked items from each category were then included in a subsequent combined-category preference assessment to evaluate potential displacement effects across stimulus categories. A concurrent operant reinforcer assessment was subsequently conducted to determine the relative and absolute reinforcing efficacy of each highest ranked stimulus from each category. Interobserver agreement data were collected for over 33% of sessions during the preference and reinforcer assessments and averaged over 90%. Although displacement effects were observed, the type and extent of the effect differed across participants.




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