|Current Advances in Preference Assessments for Children With Autism
|Saturday, May 29, 2010
|2:00 PM–3:20 PM
|Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
|Chair: Michele R. Bishop (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
|Discussant: Richard B. Graff (New England Center for Children)
|CE Instructor: Stephen Anderson, Ph.D.
|Abstract: This symposium will include three studies examining the use of preference assessments with children with autism. The first paper compared therapist report and direct assessment of preferences for 33 children diagnosed with autism. Additional analyses were conducted to evaluate the type of stimuli frequently identified by therapists as well as consistency within treatment teams. The second paper examined the use of demand functions for describing differences between behavior reinforced by food and behavior reinforced by attention in children with autism. Results show systematic changes in reinforcers earned and response-rate as a function of the ratio-requirement. The third paper investigated preference for a larger array of items versus a smaller array of items with older learners diagnosed with autism. Results indicate that participants preferred a larger array of items. Each presenter will discuss how their current results may impact treatment practices. Finally, a discussion of the importance of these findings will be presented.
|Evaluating Preference Across a Large Group of Children With Autism: Therapist Report vs. Direct Assessment
|MICHELE R. BISHOP (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Amy Kenzer (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
|Abstract: The identification of effective reinforcers continues to be an important component of successful behavioral interventions for children with autism. Methods of identifying preferred stimuli that may then function as reinforcers frequently involves an informal assessment of preferences (i.e., asking caregivers and observing the child play). However, research suggests that direct assessment of preference can produce clear preference hierarchies and identify reliable reinforcers. This study compared therapist report and direct assessment of preferences for identifying reinforcers for children with autism. Preference surveys for 33 children were administered to 44 therapists and 3 supervisors. Therapist’s identified and ranked five preferred stimuli and five non-preferred stimuli for each child. A coding system was used to determine the top ranked preferred stimuli across each child’s treatment team as well as a representative sample of non-preferred stimuli. Additionally, the experimenters selected three to four novel stimuli for each child. Subsequently, two paired choice stimulus preference assessments were conducted for all participants comparing therapists’ top ranked stimuli to 1) therapists’ reported non-preferred stimuli and 2) novel stimuli. Results indicated that for 59% of direct assessments of those items therapist’s reported as non-preferred and/or novel stimuli displaced therapist’s top ranked stimuli. Additional analyses were conducted to evaluate the type of stimuli frequently identified by therapists as well as survey consistency within treatment teams.
|Evaluations of Demand Functions for Attention and Food in Children with Autism
|ANDREW SAMAHA (Utah State University), Sarah E. Bloom (Utah State University)
|Abstract: This study examined the use of demand functions for describing differences between behavior reinforced by food and behavior reinforced by attention in children with autism. Several previous studies have identified systematic scalar differences in reinforcer value across different classes. This study attempts to extend those findings by examining differences in essential value (or, how the behavior reinforced by food and attention changes as the price of those commodities increases). Preferred food items and forms of attention were identified using paired-stimulus preference assessments. Next, those stimuli were delivered using fixed-ratio schedules. Response-requirements on the ratio schedules were manipulated across sessions in an increasing and decreasing sequence. Results show systematic changes in reinforcers earned (consumption) and response-rate as a function of ratio-requirement.
|Evaluating the Preference for Greater or Fewer Choices by Older Learners Diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum
|SELENA GIRONDA (Caldwell College), Patrick R. Progar (Caldwell College), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College), Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)
|Abstract: Choice responding was evaluated amongst a greater array of choices versus a fewer array of choices by older learners diagnosed on the autism spectrum using a concurrent-operant arrangement. In one condition, the number of items available was systematically increased from 4 to 32 items, whereas the second condition remained constant at two items. A third condition served as the control (no choice). In Phase 1, a multiple-baseline across three participants was used to evaluate identical items serving as reinforcers to control for differential consequences and satiation. In Phase 2, a choice of varied items serving as reinforcers was evaluated for one participant in order to represent a more natural setting in which choices are available on a daily basis for learners with autism. All participants preferred a greater array of choices when the items available for reinforcement were both identical and varied. The results suggest that offering a greater array of choices may enhance reinforcer effectiveness because it incorporates access to multiple highly preferred items and the opportunity to choose.