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 #495
CE Offered: BACB
Modifications to Negative Reinforcement Procedures: Demand Assessment and Alternative Reinforcement Practices
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Columbus Hall KL, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Claire Elizabeth Karlen (University of Nebraska Medicine)
Discussant: Meagan K. Gregory (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Christina Simmons, M.A.
Abstract: An important component of treatment is the ability to translate it to the natural environment. For individuals with behaviors maintained by negative reinforcement, this challenge can arise both at the beginning of treatment as well as during generalization. First, Simmons and colleagues will discuss the use of demand assessments to identify negative reinforcement test conditions in FAs for children with severe behavior disorders; results suggest that use of this procedure may more accurately identify effective conditions. Second, Betz and Henry will present results providing evidence for the effectiveness of using social reinforcement in addition to negative reinforcement to increase task completion and reduce problem behavior. The paper presented by Swartzmiller and colleagues will discuss the use of tangible reinforcement during negative reinforcement intervals for individuals with escape-maintained problem behavior. Finally, the paper presented by Phillips and colleagues will discuss treatment of ritualized behavior maintained by escape from interruption (e.g., negative reinforcement) using a visual schedule, response cost, and choice board. The overall theme and implications of these evaluations will be discussed and summarized by Dr. Meagan Gregory.
Keyword(s): Negative reinforcement

Evaluating Methods of Identifying Demands to Include in Functional Analyses

CHRISTINA SIMMONS (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Amanda Zangrillo (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Todd M. Owen (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Clinicians often use preference assessments to identify appetitive stimuli to include in positive reinforcement test and control conditions in functional analyses (FAs). However, clinicians often rely on caregiver report to identify aversive stimuli to include in negative reinforcement test conditions. In the present evaluation, we provide a comparative analysis between the preference hierarchy derived from caregiver-nominated stimuli, the demand latency assessment (Call et al., 2009), and a paired-choice assessment of demands. We provide a comparison between the preference hierarchies identified by each assessment and a validation of assessment results via FA. Preliminary results indicate that the caregiver-nominated demand hierarchy showed low correspondence with demand latency and demand paired-choice hierarchies. The demand assessment identified a hierarchy of demands that, in some cases, corresponded with results of the demand latency assessment, suggesting that individuals may accurately identify low preferred demands. In some FAs, low preferred demands evoked more problem behavior than high preferred demands, suggesting the utility of empirically deriving and selecting stimuli for inclusion in the negative reinforcement test condition of a FA. These results offer directions for future research and means to empirically select stimuli to include in negative reinforcement test conditions to decrease the likelihood of false negative findings.


Further Evaluation of Concurrent Schedules of Reinforcement to Decrease Problem Behavior Maintained by Negative Reinforcement Without Extinction

JUSTINE HENRY (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment), Alison M. Betz (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment)

Previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of implementing escape extinction procedures to decrease problem behavior maintained by negative reinforcement; however escape extinction may not be feasible to implement in certain settings (e.g., school setting). Given this, the current study aimed to replicate and extend the results of Hoch et. al. (2002) by evaluating the effectiveness of concurrent schedules of reinforcement on problem behavior and task completion while omitting the use of escape extinction. In initial phases, results demonstrated that problem behavior was high and task completion remained low when both resulted in a negative reinforcement. During subsequent phases, task completion increased and problem behavior decreased when task completion resulted in negative reinforcement and high quality attention while problem behavior resulted in negative reinforcement only.


Chained-Schedule Thinning Procedures With and Without Escape to Alternative Tangible Reinforcement

MELISSA SWARTZMILLER (University of Nebraska Medicine), Amanda Zangrillo (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Brian D. Greer (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Andresa A. De Souza (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Todd M. Owen (University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Previous research has supported functional communication training (FCT) as an effective intervention for reducing problem behavior across socially mediated functions (Hagopian, Boelter, & Jarmolowicz, 2011; Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008). Following initial implementation of FCT, clinicians often program schedule-thinning procedures (e.g., multiple schedules; Hanley, Iwata, & Thompson, 2001; response restriction, Roane, Fisher, Sgro, Falcomata, & Pabico, 2004; chained schedules, Lalli, Casey, & Kates, 1995) to increase the portability of the treatment package to the natural environment. For individuals with escape-maintained problem behavior, chained schedules have proven effective in increasing task completion, thus leaning overall rates of negative reinforcement (Lalli et al., 1995). Additionally, supplemental procedures, such as embedding alternative reinforcement during the reinforcement interval, may ameliorate reemergence of problem behavior associated with schedule thinning (Rooker, Jessel, Kurtz, & Hagopian, 2013). The present study evaluated the use of a chained schedule-thinning procedure with and without tangible items (alternative reinforcement) embedded in the negative-reinforcement interval for two individuals with escape-maintained problem behavior. The inclusion of tangible items within the reinforcement interval produced quicker decreases in problem behavior and increases in compliance relative to schedule thinning without alternative reinforcement.

Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior Evoked by Ritual Interruption
JENNIFER WEYMAN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Cara L. Phillips (Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Bo Kim (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Restricted and repetitive behavior is one of the hallmarks of Autism. This category of behavioral deficit or excess can manifest in a number of ways, including near obsession with particular items or activities, perseverative speech, and more complex or higher-order rituals. In some cases, these rituals may be difficult to predict and thus challenge our standard assessment techniques. In the present study, problem behavior related to rituals was assessed in a multiple baseline design. An adolescent boy with Autism who engaged in severe problem behavior participated. Frequency of, and latency to engage in, problem behavior (i.e., aggression and disruption) were recorded. First, four rituals were intentionally established and then periodically interrupted in order to assess for problem maintained by re-gaining access to the ritual. Then, treatment in the form of a visual schedule with response cost and a choice board was evaluated. Results suggest that the subject’s problem behavior was maintained by restitution of the rituals. The treatment was effective in reducing problem behavior. The possible mechanisms responsible for the change in behavior will be discussed.



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