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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #49
Current Advances in the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Behavior Problems Maintained by Automatic Reinforcement
Saturday, May 27, 2006
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Regency VI
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Iowa)
Discussant: Richard G. Smith (University of North Texas)
Abstract: The assessment and treatment of problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement continues to be an important and challenging area of research within applied behavior analysis. One of the most widely used treatment strategies applied to behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement is the noncontingent delivery of alternative or competing stimuli intended to replace the target problem behavior. In the proposed symposium, three papers will be presented that describe the application of this treatment strategy to the reduction of severe problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. One study will discuss the utility of access to alternative available stimuli as a potential treatment for topographies of self-restraint that are hierarchically related. A second study will discuss the use of response interruption and redirection plus alternative stimuli as a treatment for reducing vocal stereotypy. The third study will discuss assessment techniques to predict when access to alternative stimuli will be an effective treatment approach and when other treatments (such as differential reinforcement) are necessary to reduce self-injurious behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement.
The Occurrence of a Response Class Hierarchy of Self-restraint.
ROBERT-RYAN S. PABICO (Marcus Autism Center), Henry S. Roane (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University School of Medicine), Michael E. Kelley (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University)
Abstract: A response class hierarchy is a set of responses (e.g., aggression, disruption, screaming) that are maintained by the same reinforcement contingency (e.g., attention) and occur in a specific order (i.e., some responses are more likely to occur than others). In such hierarchies, lower probability responses occur primarily when higher probability responses are prevented. Previous studies have demonstrated response class hierarchy with topographies of destructive behavior (e.g., screaming, aggression, self-injury). In the current investigation, we examined a hierarchical relation among multiple topographies of self-restraint. Multiple baseline and reversal designs were used to demonstrate that blocking specific topographies of self-restraint would occasion the emergence of other topographies of self-restraint. Likewise, when preferred items were introduced, self-restraint generally decreased. Throughout all analyses, reliability data were collected on at least 25% of sessions and averaged over 80% for all topographies of self-restraint and item interaction. These results will be discussed in terms of identifying the variables that influence response class formation.
Altering Automatically-Reinforced Stereotypy: The Effect of Adding Materials.
KATHLEEN M. CLARK (New England Center for Children), Robert Parry-Cruwys (New England Center for Children), Jessica Masalsky (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: We have examined the effects of both direct (response interruption plus redirection) and indirect (response independent access to preferred activities) interventions for treating stereotypy maintained by automatic reinforcement. While both procedures are generally effective for decreasing stereotypy, indirect treatment does not provide an active redirection of behavior. Simply redirecting stereotypy, however, does not necessarily result in increases in appropriate behavior. This presentation will illustrate the effects of adding preferred stimuli in order to set the occasion for appropriate vocalizations to be emitted and reinforced for four children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. For all participants, functional analysis found vocal stereotypy to be maintained by automatic reinforcement. Response interruption and redirection produced lower levels of stereotypy than baseline, however, levels of appropriate communication did not increase until materials were added to the treatment setting. Interobserver agreement data were collected in all phases of the analyses and intervention comparisons and mean total agreement scores exceeded 85%.
Using Assessment Results to Select NCR or DRA Treatments for Behavior Maintained by Automatic Reinforcement.
JASON M. STRICKER (University of Iowa), Wendy K. Berg (University of Iowa), Kelly M. Vinquist (University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (University of Iowa), Jayme Mews (University of Iowa)
Abstract: Ringdahl et al. (1997) and Shore et al. (1997) showed that noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) was an effective treatment when participants played with preferred items to the exclusion of behaviors maintained by automatic reinforcement. Both studies demonstrated mixed results using NCR and DR procedures, but showed that the absence of problem behavior during preference assessments was predictive of the effectiveness of NCR. Stricker et al. (2005) showed that results of a concurrent operants assessment predicted the efficacy of differential reinforcement (DR) procedures. This study examines the parameters under which NCR or DR procedures may be effective for self-injury maintained by automatic reinforcement. Sean’s eye poking was maintained by automatic reinforcement with elevated responding during the alone condition and low rates during all other conditions. Nedra’s finger/object mouthing was maintained by automatic reinforcement with elevated rates across all test and control conditions. Concurrent operants assessments showed that both participants selected alternative leisure/social stimuli to the exclusion of self-injury. We predicted that a NCR treatment would be effective for Sean and that a DR program would be necessary for Nedra. Treatment results confirmed our hypotheses. The predictive utility of functional analysis and concurrent operants assessments for selecting treatments for self-injury will be discussed.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh