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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #378
CE Offered: BACB
Sure, Go Ahead and Stim! Reducing High-Frequency Ritualistic Behaviors in Children With Autism Using Delayed Permission
Monday, May 31, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
204AB (CC)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Elizabeth Martineau (Nashoba Learning Group)
Discussant: Elizabeth Martineau (Nashoba Learning Group)
CE Instructor: Susan Schneider, Ph.D.
Abstract: Reducing high-frequency obsessive or ritualistic behaviors in children with autism presents a unique challenge because there is often no reinforcer more potent than engaging in the behavior itself. When unable to engage in certain rituals, many children with autism display anxiety correlates such as sweating, tensing, or increased heart rate. The apparent feeling of relief experienced after after completing the ritual is far more powerful than any item offered as reinforcement for refraining from the ritual. For some students, interruping these ritualistic behavior chains can also trigger tantrum behavior. It is possible, however, to bring the behavior under stimulus control and reduce levels dramatically over time by teaching the student to ask permission or wait for permission to engage in the behavior as a new first step in the behavior chain. We taught several students with autism to ask or wait for permission before engaging in ritualistic behaviors, and then began systematically delaying and eventually denying permission. All students had a history of aggression, self-injury, or non-compliance when redirected from engaging in ritualistic behaviors, but data show that this procedure was effective in bringing these behaviors under stimulus control and significantly reducing rates of stereotypy without triggering dangerous behavior.
Can't Touch This: Reducing High-Frequency Touching and Tapping Behaviors Through Delayed Permission, Denied Permission, and Containment
JESSICA SLATON (Nashoba Learning Group), Elizabeth Martineau (Nashoba Learning Group), Joshua Dahlin (Nashoba Learning Group)
Abstract: A teenager with autism was taught to ask permission for (and eventually refrain from) repetitive tapping and touching. These behaviors initially occurred over 2,000 times per school day and interfered with all instructional activities. The student attempted to repetitively touch not only his own belongings, learning materials, and familiar items in his environment, but also items belonging to others or jewelry worn by others. Attempts to block the behavior resulted in aggression or property destruction (tackling staff to the ground or breaking furniture). The student was first taught to pause and request "I want to touch" before touching an item, and permission was immediately granted. A delay to permission was then inserted by instructing the student to perform 1-2 simple motor imitations before permission was granted. Once the student was able to tolerate performing up to 8-10 demands before being granted permission to touch, we began denying permission in some locations. We systematically increased the locations in which permission was denied, successfully containing the behavior to one small specified area. Data show that the intervention was effective in significantly reducing the target behavior from 2,000+ per day to less than 4 per day, with near-zero rates of tantrum behavior.
The Weakest Link: Breaking Word Chains by First Transferring Control to a Teacher-Controlled Stimulus, Then Withdrawing That Stimulus
TARA L. MONTOURE (Nashoba Learning Group), Robyn E. Stewart (Nashoba Learning Group), Benjamin Fisher (Nashoba Learning Group)
Abstract: A young boy with autism engaged in high-frequency verbal stereotypy in the form of word chains, such as adding "please" to the end of every phrase or repeating the phonetic sound of a letter multiple times (kuh, kuh, K). The added words or sounds occurred in the same pattern each time a verbal response was given, making them truly part of a specific behavioral chain and not random word inserations. The student was first taught to produce his word chains on command using cue cards with blank boxes. We instructed the student to say his chain, tapping one box per word (such as "Hi Tara please" while tapping each of 3 boxes in order). Once the student reliably produced his word chain when instructed to and reliably produced only 1 word per box, we removed the boxes representing inappropriate parts of the chain. Because the word chains had come under control of these teacher-controlled boxes, the student automatically deleted words from his chain when the teacher deleted boxes. Over time the use of boxes was faded completely. Data show that this procedure was effective in eliminating inappropriate word chains that were interfering with skill acquisition in multiple programs.
Can't Touch This, Revisited: Replicating the Use of a Delayed Permission Procedure to Reduce Repetitive Touching Behavior
CHANELLE HUME (Nashoba Learning Group), Crystal Seagle (Nashoba Learning Group), Elizabeth Martineau (Nashoba Learning Group), Joshua Dahlin (Nashoba Learning Group)
Abstract: Another teenager with autism was taught to request permission before accessing tangible items or engaging in motor stereotypy. This student attempted to take toys or rifle through drawers without permission, go to preferred locations without permission, or stereotypically arrange objects and kick objects down the hall. When blocked from accessing a preferred toy or location, the student bolted towards the item and flopped. These behaviors initially occurred at high rates and greatly interfered with all learning activities, particularly because the student was too heavy to be lifted by a single staff member after a f lop. Similar behaviors occurred when the student was blocked from engaging in motor stereotypy with objects (such as kicking a piece of trash down the hall). The student was taught to use a text strip to request access to preferred objects or to request to engage in stereotypy. Permission was at first granted for every request, and then a delay to permission was inserted by requiring the student to complete simple demands. The number of demands was systematically increased and a modified parametric analysis was conducted to determine how many demands were necessary before permission could be completely denied without triggering tantrum behavior.



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