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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #208
CE Offered: BACB
Competing Stimulus Assessments: Procedural Modifications to Improve Effectiveness and Efficiency
Sunday, May 28, 2023
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4E/F
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (California State University, Los Angeles)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Rebecca Weyman, Ph.D.
Abstract: Competing stimulus assessments have been used to identify items that compete with automatically maintained problem behavior. Traditionally, stimuli are provided in isolation and data are collected on the rate of problem behavior as well as the duration of toy engagement or contact. The items associated with the lowest level of problem behavior and highest level of engagement are considered competing stimuli. These stimuli may then be provided noncontingently to decrease problem behavior. The following presentations will review different ways to improve the effectiveness as well as the efficiency of conducting competing stimulus assessments. The first presentation will replicate findings on the augmented competing stimulus assessment and extend those findings to Subtype 1 automatically maintained self-injurious behavior. The second presentation will include a description of modifications to the augmented competing stimulus assessment for a medically complex child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The third presentation will involve assessing a latency-based competing stimulus assessment to increase the efficiency of conducting these assessments.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Automatic reinforcement, Competing stimuli, Problem behavior
Target Audience: Functional analysis, problem behavior, treatments for automatically maintained problem behavior
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to: 1) describe the procedures of the traditional competing stimulus assessment, 2) describe procedural modifications to improve the effectiveness of competing stimulus assessments, and 3) describe procedural modifications to improve the efficiency of conducting competing stimulus assessments.

Outcomes of an Augmented Competing Stimulus Assessment for Automatically Maintained Self-Injurious Behavior: A Consecutive Controlled Case Series

DREW E. PIERSMA (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michelle A. Frank-Crawford (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jonathan Dean Schmidt (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jasmeen Kaur (Kennedy Krieger Institute ), Courtney C Hanlin (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

A competing stimulus assessment (CSA) is a stimulus assessment designed to identify stimuli that reduce problem behavior, ostensibly through reinforcer competition or substitution. It is particularly difficult to identify high competition (HC) stimuli for treatment-resistant subtypes of automatically maintained self-injurious behavior (ASIB; Subtypes 2 and 3). Recent findings indicate that augmenting the CSA by including response promotion and response disruption tactics can effectively identify and establish HC stimuli (Hagopian et al., 2020). The current study sought to replicate these findings with additional participants, and extended it to include individuals with Subtype 1 ASIB. As expected, more HC stimuli were identified in the initial Free Access condition (without any augmenting procedures) for most with Subtype 1, but in fewer cases for Subtypes 2 or 3. Following the application of the augmenting procedures, the number of HC stimuli identified in the Repeated Free Access condition increased for 6 of 8 participants. Overall, at least one HC stimulus was identified in 19 of the 20 applications. Furthermore, at least one HC stimulus was still effective during maintenance probes conducted for a subset of individuals. Results suggest that the augmenting procedures may not be necessary for most individuals with Subtype 1, and they support its use as an effective tool for individuals with Subtypes 2 and 3.


Modifications to Competing Stimulus Assessments for Medically Complex Children With Self-Injurious Behavior

JASMINE HASMIK POETRY (Thompson Autism Center, Children's Hospital of Orange County), Casey J. Clay (Children's Hospital of Orange County), John Budde (California State University, Los Angeles), Rebecca Vigil (Children’s Hospital of Orange County), Armen Gushchyan (Children's Hospital of Orange County)

Competing stimulus assessments (CSA) have been effective in identifying effective stimuli that compete with automatically-maintained challenging behavior, thus decreasing the rate of that behavior. Hagopian and colleagues (2020) introduced the augmented CSA (A-CSA) to further refine the assessment process. The A-CSA includes the progressive sequential introduction of variations in presentation to promote engagement. This research presentation includes a description of modifications to a A-CSA for a 7-year-old medically complex child diagnosed with ASD. We conducted a functional analysis to determine the function of self-injurious behavior (SIB) and CSA to identify competing stimuli for intervention. We found the SIB was automatically maintained. While conducting the A-CSA, we made modifications to address the participant’s movement and motor dexterity limitations. Specifically, we compared different conditions in which presentation methods varied in the CSA to determine which was more effective. Current data show modifications to CSA might be necessary for some medically complex patients and presentation procedures result in different outcomes. Data collection is ongoing.

Evaluation of a Latency-Based Competing Stimulus Assessment (LBCSA)
MADISON HALE IMLER (University of Missouri), Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: A competing stimulus assessment (CSA) is used to identify stimuli that are associated with a low level of problem behavior and a high level of engagement. These stimuli are often used as a treatment component for automatically maintained problem behavior. One limitation of implementing CSAs is that they may be time consuming. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a latency-based competing stimulus assessment (LBCSA) to increase the efficiency of using CSAs. During the LBCSA, a therapist presented potential competing stimuli to the participants, and contingent on the occurrence of problem behavior, the session was terminated. The results of this study indicated that the items associated with a long latency to problem behavior were effective in competing with problem behavior relative to items associated with a short latency to problem behavior for three of three participants. Subsequently, the LBCSA increased the efficiency of conducting the traditional CSA.



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