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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #101
CE Offered: BACB
Further Evaluations of Competing Stimulus Assessments and the Effects of Competition on On-Task Behavior
Saturday, May 25, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 201 AB
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kacie McGarry (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Kacie McGarry, Ph.D.

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder can exhibit behaviors that are harmful or disruptive to learning or the environment. These behaviors can be automatically reinforced. A common intervention component for automatically reinforced behavior involves the presence of competing stimuli, identified through competing stimulus assessments. The present symposium encompasses three studies that each seek to evaluate a different aspect of the assessment or treatment process involving competing stimuli. The first project investigates the influence of individual preference on competing stimulus assessment outcomes, aiming to enhance our understanding of the factors impacting problem behavior reduction. In the second project, an augmented competing stimulus assessment with prompted engagement components is utilized to identify competing items for reducing stereotypy. The final project focuses on vocal stereotypy in individuals with autism and evaluates the effectiveness of using music as matched stimulation to reduce vocal stereotypy and enhance on-task behavior. Collectively, these research projects contribute to the field of behavior assessment and intervention, shedding light on individual preferences, the use of matched stimulation, and the efficacy of augmented competing stimulus assessment in addressing problem behaviors and enhancing treatment approaches.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): assessment, automatically reinforcement, behavior reduction, competing stimulus
Target Audience:

Education of reinforcement and behavior reduction practices

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to state 1) the correspondence between preference and competition, 2) the effectiveness and benefits of adding prompting into competing stimulus assessments, and 3) the effects of auditory stimuli on stereotypy and on-task behavior.

The Effects of Stimulus Preference on Competing Stimulus Assessment Outcomes

KIERSTEN STRICKLAND (Florida Autism Center; University of South Florida), Savannah Tate (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Kacie McGarry (University of Florida), Janae' A. Pendergrass (University of Florida), Catherine Kishel (Rutgers University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)

The present research project aims to investigate the influence of preference on competing stimulus assessments outcomes. Competing stimulus assessments are pre-treatment evaluations aimed at identifying stimuli that, when provided as available options, are linked to decreases in problem behavior. These reductions are hypothesized to result from the competition or substitution of reinforcers (Ahearn et al., 2005; Fisher et al., 2000; Hagopian et al., 2005; Shore et al., 1997). Multiple stimulus preference assessment without replacement is a widely used assessment procedure that involves presenting individuals with an array of stimuli and determining their preferences through selection. While multiple stimulus preference assessment without replacement has proven effective in identifying preferred stimuli, the potential impact of individual preference on competing stimulus assessments outcomes remains unclear. This study seeks to continue to add to the literature on preference in relation to competing stimulus assessments outcomes (Laureano et al., 2023) by examining relation between the presence of ranked preference stimuli and behavior reduction. Through a systematic evaluation involving participants who engaged in destructive behavior, the findings from this research project will contribute to our understanding of the factors influencing CSA outcomes and inform future practices in behavior assessment and intervention planning, ultimately enhancing individualized treatment approaches and promoting optimal outcomes for individuals with diverse needs.

Brief and Extended Effects of Modified Competing Stimulus Assessments
SORAY CASTRO (Florida Institute of Technology Alum), Kimberly Sloman (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment/ Florida Institute of Technology ), Skye Nelson (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Competing stimulus assessments (CSA) are pre-assessment tools that systematically identify stimuli associated with a reduction in a target behavior such as stereotypy or self-injury. The current study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a competing stimulus assessment with the goal to identify items that compete with stereotypy. If a competing stimulus was not identified in the initial assessment we moved to prompting engagement (i.e., augmented-competing stimulus assessment). For one participant, exposure to items effectively reduced stereotypy without prompted engagement. Therefore, an augmented competing stimulus assessment was not warranted for this participant. For the other two participants, results indicated the augmented competing stimulus assessments effectively identified two additional competing items following prompted engagement. We also evaluated the extended effects of the competing stimuli on item engagement and stereotypy for two participants. Reductive effects were maintained for one of the four competing stimuli for Participant 2 and two of the six items for Participant 3.

Further Evaluation of Effects of Auditory Stimuli on Vocal Stereotypy and Task Completion

KEITH HAPPEL (Florida Tech), Kimberly Sloman (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment/ Florida Institute of Technology ), Skye Nelson (Florida Institute of Technology), Julianne I Fernandez (Florida Institute of Technology)

Vocal stereotypy (VS), or vocalizations that are noncontexual or nonfunctional, is commonly exhibited in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The nature of vocal stereotypy may pose an issue for some individuals when it competes with the ability perform daily tasks or leads to reduced independence. Previous research has shown that access to matched stimulation (e.g., music) is effective at reducing vocal stereotypy. However, this treatment is typically evaluated during play or low stimulation conditions and thus, its effectiveness and compatibility with daily tasks are less known. Therefore, we tested wearing headphones that played music as matched stimulation to decrease vocal stereotypy and increase on-task duration. The data indicate that music as matched stimulation significantly decreased vocal stereotypy for all participants and marginal increases in on-task behavior were observed. Additionally, effects generalized to classroom settings and activities. Treatment preference assessments indicated that all participants preferred to work while accessing music.




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