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

Previous Page


Symposium #278
Advances in the Assessment of Perseverative and Stereotypic Challenging Behavior Exhibited by Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Sunday, May 30, 2010
4:30 PM–5:50 PM
207AB (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Terry S. Falcomata (University of Texas at Austin)
Discussant: John T. Rapp (St. Cloud State University)
Abstract: Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities often exhibit various topographies of perseverative and stereotypic behavior that can present a challenge to care providers. For example, these behaviors often disrupt academic activities, interfere with daily functioning, and can result in social stigmatization. In other situations, destructive behaviors can emerge which function to allow individuals to gain access to stereotypic behavior. In this symposium, three papers will be presented describing innovative approaches to the conceptualization, assessment, and treatment of challenging perseverative and repetitive behaviors exhibited by individuals with ASD. First, William Higgins and colleagues present data on the assessment and treatment of elopement maintained by access to stereotypic behavior exhibited by a child with autism. In the second paper, Lindsay Stangeland and John Rapp present data on the relative effects of conjugate and experimenter control of stereotypic behaviors on engagement in stereotypy as well as preference for the two preparations. In the third paper, Matthew O’Brien, David Wacker, Linda Cooper-Brown, and John Northup evaluate the reinforcing properties of perseverate speech displayed by children with Asperger’s diagnoses using a concurrent operant assessment procedure.
Assessment and Treatment of Elopement Maintained by Access to Stereotypic Behavior
WILLIAM J. HIGGINS (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Terry S. Falcomata (University of Texas at Austin), Henry S. Roane (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University), Brian J. Feeney (Western Michigan University), Kasey Stephenson (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: We evaluated a treatment for elopement maintained by access to stereotypic door play. First, we conducted a functional analysis of elopement that produced undifferentiated results. Next, we conducted an assessment in which we evaluated the relationship between elopement and door play. The results suggested a functional relation between the two behaviors (i.e., elopement was maintained by contingent access to door play). Finally, we implemented functional communication training as a treatment for elopement in which access to door play was made contingent on a target appropriate communication response. Interobserver agreement was obtained during at least 30% of sessions for each evaluation and averaged above 90%.
An Evaluation of the Immediate and Subsequent Effects of Conjugate Control Versus Experimenter Control of Object Stereotypy Using the Three-Component Multiple Schedule
LINDSAY STANGELAND (Grant Wood Area Education Agency), John T. Rapp (St. Cloud State University)
Abstract: In a series of experiments, we evaluated the extent to which behavior or conjugate control (CC) of stereotypy influenced engagement in and preference for object stereotypy. In Experiment 1, we used a three-component multiple schedule to evaluate the effects of CC and experimenter control (EC) of object stereotypy on immediate and subsequent object and vocal stereotypy of 3 participants with autism. In Experiment 2, we assessed each participant’s preference for either CC or EC stereotypy. The results of Experiment 1 indicated that, for 1 participant, EC stereotypy produced a modest abolishing operation for subsequent vocal stereotypy, whereas there were no clear effects for the second participant. For the third participant, experimenter control of stereotypy produced an establishing operation for subsequent object stereotypy, suggesting that control over stereotypy was important for this participant. The results for Experiment 2 suggested that all 3 participants preferred CC stereotypy to EC stereotypy. The implications of these findings for the assessment and treatment of object stereotypy are discussed.
Using Concurrent Operants to Evaluate Perseverative Conversation in Children and Adolescents Diagnosed With Asperger’s Disorder
MATTHEW O'BRIEN (University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (University of Iowa), Linda J. Cooper-Brown (University of Iowa), John A. Northup (University of Iowa)
Abstract: Perseverative conversation is a problem vocal behavior that is commonly found in individuals with Asperger’s disorder. It is characterized by long-winded monologues revolving around circumscribed interests. The current research literature suggests that perseverative conversation may exacerbate already poor social relations, impede productivity at work and home, and lead to disruptive behavior when it is restricted. Despite the negative repercussions there is a lack of research related to the assessment and treatment of this behavior. In the field of applied behavior analysis, assessments using concurrent operants arrangements have been used effectively to identify relative preference for concurrently available reinforcers. This presentation will describe a study using concurrent operants assessments to evaluate the reinforcing properties of perseverative conversation in children and adolescents with Asperger’s disorder. The results will be discussed with regards to current theoretical explanations for perseverative thinking and behavior and implications for treatment and future research of this problem vocal behavior will also be offered. Interobserver agreement was obtained during at 32 of sessions and averaged above 90%.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh