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 #320
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluating Social Interactions and Preferences of Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 29, 2022
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 257B
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Claudia Campos (Simmons University)
CE Instructor: Claudia Campos, Ph.D.

The following presentations assess the extent to which social contexts and different types of praise affect skill acquisition, social behaviors, and preference of children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental and intellectual disabilities. The first presentation assessed playing with the same toys and engaging in the same activities within social and nonsocial contexts and evaluated children’s social behaviors and preferences. The presenter will discuss ways to utilize preferences to arrange antecedent interventions to increase social behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder. The second and third presentations evaluate the use of different types of praise (e.g., enthusiastic, neutral, and no praise) within the context of skill acquisition targets (e.g., verbal behavior; receptive identification) and the extent to which the participants’ preferences may not always be predicted by the rate of skill acquisition. Presenters will discuss the clinical benefits of understanding how different variables such as social interaction and praise may affect social preferences of children with ASD.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): praise, preference, social interaction
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: learn about variables that affect social preferences of children with ASD learn how to use preferences to arrange antecedent interventions to increase social behaviors of children with ASD learn how different types of praise may affect skill acquisition in children with ASD

Incorporating Measures of Social Behavior into Preference Assessments for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

BRIANNA LAUREANO (Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (University of Florida)

In a recent study, Goldberg et al. (2017) observed that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) valued playing in a social context more than playing with the same activities in isolation. The current study aimed to extend Goldberg et al. (2017) by utilizing preference assessment methodology to evaluate whether the type of toy or activity available affects social preferences and social behaviors of children with ASD. Overall, some participants’ preferences for activities shifted as a function of whether those activities were accessed in social or nonsocial contexts. Participants whose preference remained consistent across nonsocial or social contexts engaged in significantly fewer social behaviors when accessing their highest preferred activity relative to a moderately preferred activity. The results of this study demonstrates ways to utilize preferences to arrange antecedent interventions to increase social behaviors of children with ASD. The clinical benefits of understanding variables that affect social preferences of children with ASD are discussed.


Individual Treatment Evaluation to Determine Effective Praise Types for Two Learners With Autism

SARAH LOSOWYJ (Alpine Learning Group), Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group; The Chicago School of Professional Psychology ), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)

We used an adapted alternating treatments design to evaluate the effects of neutral praise, enthusiastic praise, and no praise on the acquisition of intraverbals. We also evaluated preference for each of the praise types. Contrary to our hypothesis that enthusiastic praise would be more effective and preferred for Participant 1, the participant acquired the target intraverbals faster in the neutral praise condition and indicated a slight preference for neutral praise. For Participant 2, we wanted praise statements to be more age appropriate as the learner would soon be graduating to an adult program; also, enthusiastic praise often served as an antecedent to non-contextual vocalizations. For Participant 2, the neutral praise condition yielded the highest and most sustained level of correct responding. Interestingly, the preference assessment revealed that the learner preferred enthusiastic to neutral praise. These results informed our decision to slowly shift from enthusiastic to neutral praise with other instructional programs for Participant 2. Overall, results demonstrated that brief experimental evaluations could provide useful evidence for individualized behavior change programs in applied settings and that relative preference for reinforcement is not always predictive of relative effectiveness of reinforcement.


Further Evaluation on the Effects of Different Types of Praise on Skill Acquisition and Preference of Children With Autism

CLAUDIA CAMPOS (Simmons University), Yanerys Leon (University of Miami), Rahma Ismail (Florida Institute of Technology), Mary Gilhuly (Florida Institute of Technology), Haneen Sabbagh (Florida Institute of Technology)

Praise is a social stimulus typically provided contingent on socially appropriate responses or as a treatment component to increase appropriate behavior in behavioral interventions. However, the effects of different variables (e.g., quality, tone, magnitude, content) that may influence the effectiveness and efficiency of praise have not received much attention in the literature. An exception is Weyman and Sy (2018)’s evaluation of enthusiastic praise, neutral praise, and no praise on skill acquisition targets in individuals with developmental disabilities. Their results suggest that all individuals learned in all conditions. However, enthusiactic praise resulted in faster acquisition of the targets. The purpose of the current study was to systematically replicate Weyman and Sy (2018) on the effects of neutral, enthusiactic, and no praise on skill acquisition in children with autism spectrum disorder. A second purpose was to determine participants’ preferences. Our preliminary results suggest that all participants learned in all praise conditions, including no praise. In addition, rate of skill acquisition did not predict participants’ preferences.




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