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

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Symposium #59
CE Offered: BACB
Variables Influencing Response Allocation in the Treatment of Behavior Disorders
Saturday, May 27, 2006
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Centennial Ballroom IV
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Stephanie M. Peterson (Idaho State University)
CE Instructor: Stephanie M. Peterson, Ph.D.

This symposium will provide four presentations that consist of unique applications of concurrent schedules of reinforcement to the treatment of problem behavior. Two of the presentations focus on prevention of problem behavior, while the other two focus on teaching alternative behaviors (mands) and biasing responding in favor of them. The first presentation evaluates the effects of preferred and nonpreferred toys during demand conditions. Results showed that the participants consistently allocated their time to demanding tasks and displayed little problem behavior when preferred toys were present. The second presentation provides a summary of a 4-experiment study in which the authors identified alternative stimulation that was substitutable for problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. Providing alternative stimulation reduced problem behavior when both were concurrently available. The third presentation demonstrates how different qualities and durations of reinforcement can be manipulated to bias choice responding in favor of work requests, as compared to break requests and problem behavior, within functional communication training packages. The final presentation demonstrates that a resurgence of problem behavior may occur during FCT when newly taught alternative behaviors are placed on extinction or lean schedules of intermittent reinforcement; thus, these alternative behaviors may no longer compete effectively with problem behavior.

An Evaluation of Competition Between Positive and Negative Reifnorcement During a Choice Assessment.
JAY W. HARDING (University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (University of Iowa), Wendy K. Berg (University of Iowa), Kelly M. Schieltz (University of Iowa)
Abstract: We evaluated time allocation, problem behavior, and task completion during a choice assessment that manipulated the presence of preferred and non-preferred toys during demand conditions. The participants were 2 preschool-aged boys with developmental delays who displayed severe problem behavior. All procedures were conducted in the children’s homes with their mothers serving as therapists. Multielement, concurrent schedules and reversal designs were used to evaluate assessment results. Inter-rater agreement was assessed across 30% of sessions and averaged 97%. During Phase 1, a preference assessment identified highly preferred and less preferred toys. During Phase 2, functional analyses showed that problem behavior was maintained by both positive and negative reinforcement. In Phase 3, we conducted a choice assessment with two conditions. In Condition 1, the participants had a choice between a demand option with less preferred toys or playing with the same toys alone. In Condition 2, the choice was between demands with highly preferred toys or playing with a less preferred toy alone. Results showed that both children allocated their time primarily to the demand option and displayed relatively low levels of problem behavior and high levels of task completion when tasks involved preferred toys.
Further Evaluation of Methods to Identify Matched Stimulation.
JOHN T. RAPP (St. Cloud State University)
Abstract: The effects of alternative stimulation on the vocalizing of two individuals were evaluated in a series of experiments. Experiment 1 showed that the vocalizing of both participants persisted in the absence of social consequences, but decreased markedly during noncontingent access to music. Experiment 2 showed that one participant manipulated toys that did and did not produce audio stimulation; however, only sound-producing toys (contingent audio stimulation) decreased vocalizing. For the other participant, sound-producing toys, alone, did not decrease vocalizing and paradoxically increased vocalizing when presented with music. Experiment 3 showed that the vocalizing of both participants remained below pre-intervention levels following the removal of audio stimulation and that one participant’s vocalizing increased following the removal of contingent reprimands. These patterns suggest that audio stimulation functioned as an abolishing operation for vocalizing and reprimands functioned as an establishing operation for vocalizing. Finally, Experiment 4 showed that a participant preferred a toy that produced contingent audio stimulation over an identical toy that did not generate audio stimulation. Collectively, the four experiments provide a method for identifying alternative stimulation that may be substitutable for automatically reinforced behavior.
"I Choose Work:" Increasing Work Choices Using Concurrent Schedules of Reinforcmeent Within Functional Communication Training Packages.
RENEE KOEHLER VAN NORMAN (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), Stephanie M. Peterson (Idaho State University), Nancy A. Neef (The Ohio State University), Traci M. Cihon (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Although a viable treatment option for escape-maintained problem behavior, functional communication training treatment packages are not without limitations. One such limitation with FCT is an initial increase in break requests, resulting in continuous access to reinforcement (Marcus & Vollmer, 1995). An additional limitation may surface in the form of extinction bursts when implementers attempt to gradually introduce additional task demands over time (also known as stimulus or demand fading; e.g., Zarcone, Iwata, Smith, Mazaleski, & Lerman, 1994). This study investigated the effects of combining two interventions (FCT and DRA with increasing work requirements) within a 3-choice scenario in an attempt to address these limitations. Concurrent schedules of reinforcement with differing levels of quality and duration were applied to each response alternative: mands for break, mands for work, and problem behavior. Then, the effects of systematically increased demands were evaluated while the concurrent schedules of reinforcement remained in place. The results will be discussed in relation to the matching law and choice making.
An Applied Evaluation of Resurgence: Functional Communication Training (FCT) and Treatment Relapse.
VALERIE M. VOLKERT (Louisiana State University), Nathan Call (Louisiana State University), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston, Clear Lake), Nicole M. Trosclair-Lasserre (Louisiana State University)
Abstract: Extinction is a very important component of functional communication training (FCT). Thus, the potential undesirable effects of extinction must be considered before this type of treatment is implemented. Resurgence, the recurrence of previously reinforced behavior when another behavior is placed on extinction, is a possible undesirable effect of extinction. Resurgence may account for some instances of treatment relapse in situations where problem behavior recovers following implementation of extinction-based treatments such as FCT. Despite the potential relevance of resurgence to understanding why problem behavior may re-emerge, few applied studies have examined resurgence effects. The current study attempted to determine whether resurgence of problem behavior occurred when a newly trained alternative behavior was placed on extinction or contacted a thin schedule of reinforcement and if the resurgence effect could be repeated within an individual. The present investigation also attempted to replicate and extend the results of Experiments 2 and 4 in Lieving and Lattal (2003) by examining resurgence with human participants who engage in aberrant behavior. Results showed that, in some cases problem behavior recovered when the alternative behavior was placed on extinction or intermittent schedules of reinforcement. Interoberserver agreement coefficients exceeded 80% or 90% for all participants.



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