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 #175
CE Offered: BACB
An Evaluation of Schedules of Reinforcement on Socially-Maintained Problem Behavior
Sunday, May 30, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
204AB (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Marjorie Charlop-Christy, Ph.D.
Abstract: The current symposium will review data examining the effect of schedules of reinforcement on socially-maintained problem behavior. The first paper will review data on the use of multiple schedules for thinning the schedule of reinforcement during functional communication training. In addition, data will be presented on the use of multiple schedules for reducing ritualistic behavior, problem behavior associated with restricted access to those rituals, and problem behavior maintained by termination of interruption. The second paper will review the use of a concurrent schedule of reinforcement for identifying whether an arbitrary reinforcer, an edible, will compete with a maintaining reinforcer, a break, for participants with escape-maintained problem behavior. Data will be presented on participants’ response selections across various tasks and conditions of reinforcement-schedule thinning. The third paper will review the use of a multiple schedule for treating participants’ off-task behavior maintained by escape and access to tangibles. Data will also be presented on a number of modifications that were made to the multiple-schedule intervention to enhance maintenance of treatment effects. The forth paper will discuss transitions from rich schedules of reinforcement to lean schedules of reinforcement on participants’ problem behavior. Descriptive data will be presented on participants’ problem behavior associated with various types of transitions, including those from non-preferred to preferred activities and those from preferred to non-preferred activities.
The Use of Multiple Schedules to Treat Problem Behavior
MELISSA L. GONZALEZ (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Eric Boelter (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Lynn G. Bowman (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: The use of multiple schedules have been shown to be an effective method to bring human behavior under schedule control. Several case examples will be presented that show the use of multiple schedules as treatment for a variety of problem behaviors. First, case examples of multiple schedules used to thin schedule of reinforcement following functional communication training will be discussed. Next, the use of multiple schedules to decrease both the availability of ritualistic behavior and problem behavior associated with restricting those rituals will be shown. Additional case examples will show the use of multiple schedules to decrease problem behavior maintained by termination of interruption, and the use of these schedules to implement comprehensive treatment packages that alternate across various schedule conditions. Collectively, these case examples demonstrate that multiple schedules can be used to treat a variety of problem behavior by bringing behavior under schedule control.
Further Evaluation of the Competition Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement for Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior
Jennifer W. Loring (New England Center for Children), CASEY BETHAY (The New England Center for Children), Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that when participants with escape-maintained problem behavior are concurrently presented with a response option associated with an arbitrary reinforcer (an edible) and a response option associated with the maintaining reinforcer (escape), they often select the arbitrary reinforcer over the maintaining reinforcer. The purpose of this study was to extend previous research evaluating participants’ selection of a break versus an edible under a concurrent-operant arrangement by conducting pre-assessments to identify a high-preference task and two types of low-preference tasks, a low-preference task that did not evoke problem behavior and a low-preference task that did evoke problem behavior. Each of these tasks was singly presented and alternated using a multielement design. Across task conditions, an edible response option and an escape option were concurrently presented. In addition, the schedule of reinforcement was successively thinned to evaluate whether less frequent reinforcement would alter the response option selected. Results showed that for both participants, neither the task condition nor the reinforcement schedule in effect, affected response option selections. Implications for the treatment of escape-maintained problem behavior will be discussed.
Assessment and Treatment of Off-Task Behavior Exhibited by Adolescents With Autism in Vocational Contexts
MAGDA M. STROPNIK (The New England Center for Children), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England College), Stacy E. Edinburg (The New England Center for Children), Kevin C. Luczynski (Western New England College)
Abstract: The current study extends research in the areas of function-based assessment and treatment to off-task behavior in a vocational context. Two adolescents with autism who engaged in off-task behavior participated. A functional analysis of off-task behavior was conducted and showed elevated levels of off-task in both the escape and tangible conditions for both participants. Effects of a multiple schedule were then assessed in which reinforcement and extinction schedules for off-task behavior operated in alternation, each in the presence of different stimuli. Interobserver agreement was collected for 33% of assessment and treatment sessions on off-task behavior, prompts, and products completed and averaged 88% across all measures. After desirable amounts of off-task behavior were observed, (a) the duration of the off-task schedule component was reduced, (b) self-monitoring procedures were introduced, (c) schedule alternation was made contingent upon completion of a specified number of work products (as opposed to time-based alternation), (d) the number of work products requirement was systematically increased, and session duration was increased from 10 min to 30 min to emulate typical vocational conditions. Treatment effects were maintained as practical schedule enhancements were made. The results will be discussed in the context of promoting vocational independence for adolescents with autism.
Descriptive Assessment of Problem Behavior in Transitions Between Activities
BERGLIND SVEINBJORNSDOTTIR (New England Center for Children), Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children), Paulo Guilhardi (The New England Center for Children), Karen M. Lionello-DeNolf (University of Massachusetts Medical School), Brent Maxwell Jones (University of Massachusetts Medical Center), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Basic research suggests that transitions from rich schedules of reinforcement to lean schedules of reinforcement produce suboptimal performance. This study explores whether these types of schedule transitions produce problem behavior for students with autism. In this study, a transition began when the teacher signaled that an ongoing activity was ending, and ended when the child first responded to the following activity. Descriptive data from 6 children with autism were analyzed to determine which of the following 6 conditions were associated with the most frequent occurrence of problem behavior: (1) non-preferred activities, (2) preferred activities, (3) transitions from non-preferred to other non-preferred activities, (4) transitions from non-preferred to preferred activities, (5) transitions from preferred to other preferred activities, and (6) transitions from preferred to non-preferred activities. For each of 6 participants, problem behavior was most common in signaled transitions from a preferred to a non-preferred activity.



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