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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #466
Preference Assessments in Differing Populations
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
12:00 PM–1:20 PM
Stevens 1 (Lower Level)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Discussant: Richard B. Graff (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Richard B. Graff, Ph.D.
Abstract: The three studies presented in this symposium all represent the application of preference assessment methods with unique populations or the modification of preference assessment methods to address the specific challenges posed by certain populations. The first study involved the identification of reinforcers for individuals diagnosed with emotional/behavioral disorders, and the validation of the outcomes of preference assessments with these individuals by measuring their effects when delivered contingent upon on-task behavior. The second study entailed a modification of preference assessment methods to assess olfactory stimuli with participants diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. In the third study, the effects the presence of highly-, moderately-, and lowly-preferred items on problem behavior and on various types of play between children diagnosed with autism and their siblings was examined.
An Evaluation of a Brief Multiple-Stimulus Preference Assessment with Adolescents with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (E/BD) in an Educational Setting
THOMAS S. HIGBEE (Utah State University), Nancy W. Paramore (Utah State University)
Abstract: The brief multiple-stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessment has been demonstrated to accurately and efficiently identify reinforcers for individuals with developmental disabilities. In an attempt to determine its utility for individuals with less severe cognitive impairments, we conducted MSWO preference assessments with three adolescent boys with emotional/behavioral disorders (E/BD) within the context of their public school educational program. The reinforcing effects of stimuli identified as high-, medium-, and low-preference were then evaluated using an alternating treatment design where, following an initial baseline, stimuli were delivered contingent on on-task behavior. High-preference stimuli produced the highest percentages of on-task behavior for all three participants.
Assessment of preference for olfactory stimuli in individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome
SARAH E. BLOOM (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: This study examines preference for olfactory stimuli in individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). Results of a previous study (DeLeon, Iwata & Roscoe, 1997) showed that edible stimuli tend to “displace” leisure stimuli downward when both are present in mixed arrays. We attempted to replicate these findings and to extend them to olfactory stimuli, which may have special relevance to the PWS population for whom food reinforcers are contraindicated. We conducted a series of three paired-stimulus preference assessments (edible vs. leisure, leisure vs. olfactory, and edible vs. olfactory) with 10 PWS participants. Results indicated that most but not all participants preferred edible stimuli over stimuli from other classes. Individuals for whom olfactory stimuli were more preferred than leisure stimuli participated in a subsequent reinforcer assessment (concurrent arrangement) to determine whether olfactory stimuli were preferred when presented contingent upon performance of a vocational response. Individuals for whom olfactory stimuli were the least preferred participated a single-operant reinforcer assessment to determine whether olfactory stimuli had any reinforcing capability.
Using Free-Operant Preference Assessments to Select Toys for Free Play Between Children with Autism and Their Siblings
RACHAEL A. SAUTTER (Western Michigan University), Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University), Jill Gillett (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Stimulus properties of toys may impact the type and amount of play observed between children with autism and their playmates. Six children with autism and their siblings participated. Separate free operant preference assessments were conducted with toys in two categories: highly sensory stimulating toys and non-sensory developmentally oriented toys. Highly preferred items and moderate to low preferred items from each category were then introduced into free play observations with children with autism and their sibling. Data were collected on the occurrence of several types of play (e.g., solitary, parallel, interactive, pretend) and problem behavior (e.g., stereotypy, aggression). Generally, highly preferred sensory items were associated with more problem behavior and solitary play while developmentally oriented toys that were moderately preferred produced the most interactive play and least problem behavior. Implications for sibling interventions are discussed.



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