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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #33
CE Offered: BACB
Translational Investigations With Individuals With Autism: Token Economies, Resurgence, and Response Variability
Sunday, May 29, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Columbus Hall EF, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Megan A. Boyle (Missouri State University)
Discussant: Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Megan A. Boyle, Ph.D.

This symposium will present investigations that incorporated findings from basic research to design evaluations of clinical interventions with individuals with autism. Findings from basic research have recently begun to be recognized as valuable sources of information to researchers interested in applied problems. Procedures and results from basic research are interpreted in ways that further the conceptual understanding of behavior change. Using procedures from basic research may allow translational and applied researchers to determine how to increase the effectiveness of clinical interventions. The first investigation incorporates basic-research findings on token and tandem schedules of reinforcement to compare methods of increasing compliance and decreasing escape-maintained problem behavior. Two investigations in this symposium incorporate basic-research findings on resurgence to investigate methods to decrease the likelihood that problem behavior will recur following successful implementation of FCT. The fourth study incorporates basic research on lag schedules of reinforcement to increase the variability in vocal mands. The importance of translational research will be highlighted throughout.

Keyword(s): FCT, Resurgence, Token Economies, Translational Research
Comparison of Token and Tandem Reinforcement Schedules in the Treatment of Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior
MEGAN A. BOYLE (Missouri State University), Mary Elizabeth Daniels (Missouri State University), Stephanie L. Aholt (Missouri State University), Alexandra Beckman (Missouri State University), Ginny Keenan (Missouri State University)
Abstract: Token economies are widely used, research-based interventions for the treatment of problem behavior (e.g., in increasing compliance). However, few studies have compared the effectiveness of token economies to other reinforcement-based procedures. Results from basic and translational investigations suggest that second-order schedules of reinforcement that deliver stimulus changes for the completion of each response requirement in the schedule (e.g., token delivery in token schedules) produce longer pre-ratio pauses and slower rates of responding in the initial schedule requirements or links than in corresponding second-order schedules that do NOT involve stimulus changes for the completion of each response requirement (e.g., tandem reinforcement schedules). It could therefore be the case that token economies are relatively less effective than single-schedule (i.e., "back-up" reinforcement only, without token delivery) reinforcement procedures. The purpose of this study was to compare token and tandem reinforcement schedules (identical with the exception of token delivery) in the treatment of escape-maintained problem behavior with two children with autism. A functional analysis was conducted that confirmed that both subjects emitted escape-maintained problem behavior. A multiple schedule was implemented to compare token and tandem schedules with respect to compliance, pre-ratio pausing, and problem behavior. Results thus far suggest that tokens are not superior in any measure.
Increasing Communication Under Conditions in Which the Resurgence of Problem Behavior is Probable: Applications of Serial FCT
SARAH SHAW (Vanderbilt), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Kate Chazin (Vanderbilt), Lillian Stiff (Vanderbilt University), Nealetta Houchins-Juarez (Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Behavior Analysis Consulting Services), Danielle Bartlemay (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: During the maintenance stages of functional communication training (FCT), failure to reinforce mands could result in a resurgence of problem behavior. Recent translational work on arbitrary human responses suggests that incorporating multiple-mand instruction into a serial-training format may increase the probability of a recency effect, and a reversion of response resurgence (both desirable outcomes when mands are the most recently reinforced responses prior to extinction). However, when procedures were replicated with socially significant human behavior (i.e., problem behavior and mands), primacy was consistently observed and no manding resurged for one participant. In the current investigation, we modified the serial-FCT program and evaluated the probability of mand resurgence and response variability when functional reinforcement was temporarily unavailable.
Further Evaluation of the Resurgence of Problem Behavior
OLIVIA GRATZ (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Resurgence is the recurrence of a previously reinforced, extinguished response. To date, little is known regarding the extent to which three members of a response class will resurge. The purpose of the current study was to examine the extent to which members of a response class will resurge under periods of extinction. Four school-aged children (M = 9, SD = 3.37) diagnosed with Intellectual Disabilities (including Autism), and extensive histories of problem behavior, participated in the study. Researchers utilized a linear strip design to evaluate the level of resurgence after systematically providing and withdrawing reinforcement for engagement in problem behavior or precursors to problem behavior and two topographically different, functionally equivalent responses (e.g., hand raising, signing, and/or handing a picture of the preferred item to the researcher). Resurgence of problem behavior and precursors to problem behavior were observed in all children during all extinction sessions. However, functionally equivalent communicative responses did not resurge during extinction. Results suggest that resurgence may occur for one (but not all) of the responses within the same response-class.

Effects of a Lag Schedule of Reinforcement With Progressive Time Delay on Variability in Vocal Mand Topographies Emitted by Children With Autism

BRYANT C. SILBAUGH (The University of Texas at Austin, Special Education Department), Raechal Ferguson (University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin)

Reinforcement of operant variability may have clinical utility in the treatment of repetitive and stereotyped behavior (RSB). For example, studies have shown lag schedules of reinforcement can replace RSB with variability in the verbal and play behavior of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The need for additional work in this area is highlighted by recent advances in the behavior analytic conceptualization of RSB as a problem with invariance and calls from researchers in behavioral neuroscience for more translational studies of operant variability. This study is a translational extension of lag schedules to vocal mand training. A multiple baseline across behaviors with embedded reversal design was utilized to evaluate the effects of a procedure consisting of a combined lag schedule of reinforcement and progressive time delay on operant variability of otherwise repetitive vocal mand topographies of children with autism. Two participants have completed the study. The procedure replaced topographically repetitive patterns of vocal manding with topographically variant vocal manding. Some limitations of the current study and implications for future research will be discussed.




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