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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #365
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment and Treatment of Stereotypic Behavior in Individuals with Autism
Monday, May 26, 2008
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
International South
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)
Discussant: Craig H. Kennedy (Vanderbilt University)
CE Instructor: Hannah Hoch, Ph.D.

Stereotypic behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement displayed by individuals with autism continues to present challenges to clinicians. Assessment procedures have focused on identifying conditions under which the behavior is more and less likely to occur, as well as stimuli that compete with the occurrence of the behavior. Treatment options have focused on the fixed time delivery of competing reinforcers (i.e., NCR), differential reinforcement of competing responses, response interruption, redirection of the target behavior, and the use of negative punishment (e.g., timeout or response cost). In this symposium, 3 studies will be presented describing treatment strategies used in the treatment of stereotypic behavior in individuals with autism. Treatment procedures will include the use of noncontingent access to matched sensory stimuli, differential reinforcement of alternate competing responses, response interruption and redirection, response cost, or some combination thereof. Findings will be discussed in terms of the applications of interventions for individuals with autism.

Antecedent Assessment and Treatment of Stereotypic Motor Movements Correlated with Visual Stimuli in a Young Boy with Autism.
HANNAH HOCH (Alpine Learning Group), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group), Grace Cheon (Alpine Learning Group)
Abstract: This study examined procedures for the assessment and treatment of stereotypic motor movements of a four-year-old boy with autism. Stereotypic motor movements included hyperextension of arms, and tensing and clenching of muscles in his arms, hands, and face. Anecdotal observations indicated that the behavior occurred more often in the presence of specific visual stimuli (e.g., toys and activities with animation, computer graphics, and digital displays). An antecedent analysis using a multielement design was conducted to identify activities that were correlated with higher rates of stereotypic motor movements, and activities which were not. Results of the antecedent analyses confirmed that specific activities evoked higher levels of stereotypic motor movements. A reversal design was used to examine the effects of a response cost procedure to reduce stereotypic motor movements in the presence of the identified stimuli. Results are discussed in terms of assessment and treatment of stereotypic motor movements correlated with specific stimuli.
The Effects of Tact Training and Response Interruption/Redirection on Appropriate and Undesirable Vocalizations.
CANDICE COLON (The New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children), Kathleen M. Clark (The New England Center for Children), Jessica Masalsky (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Though several studies have identified effective verbal operant training procedures, few have studied the effects of verbal operant training on vocal stereotypy (VS). The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of tact training on VS and appropriate speech in children with ASDs in the context of an incidental learning environment. A functional analysis was conducted and the results ruled out socially-mediated consequences for VS. An ABCBC design was used to evaluate the effects of tact training and a response interruption and redirection procedure (RIRD; Ahearn et al., 2007). Following assessment, tact training sessions were conducted using two preferred stimuli and two contextually relevant stimuli. Tact training increased tacting in the incidental learning environment and novel tacts emerged. VS was also lower for some participants following tact training. The implementation of the RIRD procedure was conducted in an effort to further decrease levels of VS. Results indicated that the introduction of the RIRD procedure further decreased levels of VS while levels of appropriate language acquired through tact training were maintained for both participants. Manding also emerged consistently with some participants. Interobserver agreement data were collected for both VS and appropriate language and mean agreement exceeded 90%.
Using an NCR Schedule and Response Interruption to Decrease Stereotypic Behavior in an Adult with Autism.
FRANK R. CICERO (Eden II Programs)
Abstract: Automatically reinforced, stereotypic behaviors are frequently observed in individuals with a diagnosis of autism. Because they are self reinforcing, these behaviors are often difficult to treat. The current study investigated the effects of noncontingent reinforcement using matched sensory stimuli on a fixed-time schedule and response interruption of stereotypic behavior, both in isolation and in combination, on the rates of stereotypic behavior. An adult individual with a diagnosis of autism served as the participant. The study was conducted in the participant’s day treatment program within 10-minute treatment sessions. A single subject reversal design, consisting of eight phases; was used. Rate of appropriate object engagement was collected as well as rate of stereotypic behavior. Functional analysis data were initially collected in order to confirm that the behavior was maintained by automatic reinforcement. Results showed a decrease in stereotypic behavior from baseline within the response interruption and combined treatment phases, however, decreased responding was not achieved when NCR was implemented in isolation. Substantial increases in appropriate object engagement were not obtained in any treatment phase. Results will be discussed in terms of their implications for the individual and the field at large.



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