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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #29
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Assessment and treatment behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement
Saturday, May 23, 2009
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
North 128
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Tiffaney Esposito, M.S.
Abstract: Although the assessment and treatment of problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement poses many challenges, interventions such as competing stimuli and response interruption continue to show promise. Presenters in the current symposium will review findings on the assessment and treatment of pica, motor stereotypy, and vocal stereotypy maintained by automatic reinforcement. Melissa Gonzalez from the Kennedy Krieger Institute will present data on the assessment of pica and a treatment demonstrating the use of competing stimuli and differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (i.e., discarding of pica materials). Keira Moore from the New England Center for Children will present findings from a study examining the effectiveness of sensory integration (SI) therapy for the treatment of motor stereotypy which failed to demonstrate that SI was effective. Courtney Keegan from the May Institute will present a comparative analysis of treatments for vocal stereotypy using response interruption and redirection (RIRD) to engage in appropriate vocalizations versus RIRD to engage in physical demands. Jessica Barron from the New England Center for Children will present a comparative analysis of DRA with and without RIRD as a treatment for stereotypy while measuring collateral effects on performance and appropriate alternative behavior. Findings suggest that direct reductive procedures, such as RIRD, may be indicated for reducing automatically-reinforced stereotypy.
The treatment of pica with competing stimuli and differential reinforcement of an incompatible response
MELISSA LUKE GONZALEZ (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement can be difficult to treat given that the specific source of reinforcement (i.e., source of stimulation or sensory attenuation) maintaining the response is difficult to precisely identify or directly control. Pica is a behavior that poses a high risk for injury. When maintained by automatic reinforcement this behavior may present unique challenges in terms accurate, yet safe behavioral assessment and effective treatment. The current study describes the assessment and treatment of pica in a female diagnosed with autism and severe intellectual disability. Functional analyses determined that pica was maintained by automatic reinforcement. Initial treatment evaluations indicated that competing stimuli were not effective in reducing pica to clinically significant levels. The addition of response blocking reduced incidents of pica, but did not decrease the rate at which she picked up items from the floor. A treatment incorporating differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior (discarding pica materials) was effective in reducing pica. This treatment was generalized across staff, settings, and pica items varying in degrees of preference.
Sensory Integration as a Treatment for Automatically Reinforced Behavior
KEIRA M MOORE (New England Center for Children), Catia Cividini-Motta (New England Center for Children), Jennifer Dashner (New England Center for Children), Dana Justice (New England Center for Children), Kathy Clark (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: According to sensory integration (SI) theory, autism is caused by an individual’s inability to integrate and adaptively respond to sensory input (Ayres, 2005). It can be presumed that SI would be most effective for behavior maintained by sensory consequences and if it is effective then it is likely due to SI serving as an abolishing operation. Two students with automatically reinforced motor stereotypy and autism participated in this study. Following functional analysis, an Occupational Therapist selected sensory activities to present to the participants for SI. These items were also assessed to determine whether they competed with motor stereotypy by providing access to the items and recording stereotypy and engagement. The effect of SI on stereotypy was evaluated in an ABAB-type design. Stereotypy was measured twice daily, 2-3 times per week during baseline and treatment. SI was implemented by providing access to the items on a daily basis 6 to 7 times a day for 10-15 minutes every hour of the school day. Results showed that the sensory diet was not successful in decreasing target behavior for either participant. The results of this study do not support SI as an effective treatment approach.
Further evaluation of response interruption as a treatment for vocal stereotypy
COURTNEY L KEEGAN (May Institute), April S. Worsdell (May Institute), Philip Cook (May Institute), Meghan M. Holligan Whitney (May Institute), Sandra G. Rivers (May Institute), Ryan Schweck (May Institute)
Abstract: The occurrence of vocal stereotypy often interferes with learning and socialization in children with autism; as a result, it is important to identify interventions that are effective in reducing this behavior. In a recent study, Ahearn et al. (2007) successfully decreased the vocal stereotypy of four children with autism with a response interruption and redirection (RIRD) procedure involving the contingent delivery of vocal demands. The purpose of this study will be to extend the findings of Ahearn et al. by comparing two treatments for automatically-maintained vocal stereotypy. In the first intervention, vocal stereotypy will be interrupted by an immediate redirection to engage in appropriate vocalizations (i.e., Vocal RIRD); the second intervention will involve the interruption of vocal stereotypy with a redirection to engage in physical demands (i.e., Physical RIRD). Currently, two children with autism are in various stages of data collection, and we expect 1-2 additional children to participate. Researchers anticipate one of two possible results: (a) one RIRD intervention will be more effective than the other in suppressing vocal stereotypy; or (b) both Vocal RIRD and Physical RIRD will be equally effective at reducing vocal stereotypy.
Comparison of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior alone and in combination with response interruption and redirection for treating automatically-reinforced stereotypy
Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children), Gesell Gavidia (New England Center for Children), JESSICA L SEAVER (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Response interruption and redirection (RIRD) alone and in combination with reinforcement-based interventions have been effective in reducing automatically-reinforced stereotypy. However, it is unclear whether differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior (DRA) alone would be effective in decreasing stereotypy. In addition, it is unclear whether the combination of DRA and redirection may affect appropriate alternative responding. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of DRA alone and in combination with RIRD as treatment for stereotypy while measuring collateral effects on accuracy and rate of completion of appropriate alternative behavior. Three individuals, with an autism spectrum disorder, who exhibited motor stereotypy maintained by automatic reinforcement, participated. The effects of DRA alone and DRA with RIRD were evaluated using a combination of reversal and multielement designs. During DRA, a high preference edible was delivered contingent on an appropriate academic response, and no programmed consequences were provided for motor stereotypy. During DRA with RIRD, a redirection procedure was added, which involved interruption and presentation of instructions to engage in motor compliances contingent on stereotypy. Results suggest that direct reductive procedures, such as RIRD, may be necessary for reducing automatically-reinforced stereotypy. However, RIRD did not negatively impact academic performance.



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