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 #219
CE Offered: BACB
The Use of Token Systems to Facilitate Skill Acquisition in Children With Autism
Sunday, May 30, 2010
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
203AB (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Susan A. Rapoza-Houle (BEACON Services)
Discussant: Gilah Haber (BEACON Services)
CE Instructor: Kimberly Church, Psy.D.
Abstract: Token economy systems have a broad range of application and can be utilized to increase communication, social and self-help skills in children with autism. Token systems can easily be used in isolation or in conjunction with other behavioral interventions. Additionally, the format of the token economy may vary and may include the contingent delivery of tokens, checks, or points. Once a terminal goal is met (i.e., tokens obtained) the reinforcer is delivered. Likewise, the token economy may involve the contingent removal of tokens (i.e., count down) in which a student begins with a predetermined amount of tokens and they are removed contingent upon correct responses; once all of the tokens are removed, the reinforcer is delivered. Despite research supporting the efficacy of token systems, Matson and Boisjoli (2009) posit that the use of token systems are on the decline among researchers and clinicians, and call for a renewed efforts to utilize these procedures with children with autism or Developmental Disabilities.
Token Countdown Systems: Effects on Acquisition and Generalization of Play, Vocal Imitation, and Social Questions
ROBERT KELLER MACMATH (BEACON Services), Gilah Haber (BEACON Services), Robert K. Ross (BEACON Services)
Abstract: Many children diagnosed with autism and Developmental Disabilities engage in nonfunctional toy play and vocalizations. Token economy systems have been effectively used with children with autism to increase social skills and language production (Matson & Boisjoli, 2009). The current examined the use of a contingent token removal system (count down) to facilitate the acquisition and generalization of toy play, vocal imitation and social questions. The goal was to increase functional toy play and increase functional echoic repertoire in the training and non- training settings. Prior to training, a Multiple Stimulus without Replacement preference assessment was conducted across 5 sessions to identify highly preferred objects and edibles. Next, a formal reinforcer assessment of potentially reinforcing stimuli was conducted. Direct observation was used to collect baseline data on participant vocalizations and functional toy play across 5 sessions. Next, the teacher implemented a token system in which the student began with 10 tokens on the board, and a token was removed contingent upon each correct response; when the final token was removed, the terminal reinforcer was delivered. Results showed an increase in the demonstration of both toy play and vocal imitation across training and non-training settings.
Token Count-Up Systems: Effects on Acquisition and Generalization of Play, Vocal Imitation, and Social Questions
Abstract: Token economies are used widely by clinicians, teachers, and parents. Despite their widespread use, very little recent research has been conducted in this realm (Vollmer 2003). More work needs to be done in order to identify best practices in designing and implementing token systems (Athens 2003). Few investigations have been conducted on the use of tokens to increase social and language skills and to generalize their use. Since many children diagnosed with autism and developmental disabilities engage in nonfunctional toy play and exhibit stereotypic vocalizations, this is problematic. The present study evaluated the effectiveness of a contingent token delivery (count up) system in improving functional play and contextual vocalizations of two children with autism using a reversal design. The research was conducted in home based settings, and data were collected in both training and non-training environments. Results show higher rates of appropriate responding during the contingent token delivery system condition.
Using a Token System to Increase the Food Repertoire of Two Young Children With Autism
Abstract: Children with autism sometimes do not consume a sufficient variety and quantity of food items to meet their nutritional needs, sometimes resulting in unfavorable health effects (Tiger and Hanley, 2006). Behavioral interventions have been effective in increasing food acceptance and decreasing problem behavior in children with selective eating behavior. Providing access to preferred foods following consumption of non-preferred foods has provided promising results (Riordan et al. 1980). Token economies have also been combined with escape contingencies to decrease food refusal (Kahng, Bosco, and Byrne, 2003). The present study utilized a multiple baseline design across food items to evaluate the effectiveness of a token reinforcement program provided contingent upon bite acceptance for two young children with autism/ Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Dependent variables were bites of non-preferred food items accepted and food refusal behavior. Tokens were exchanged for preferred edibles. Results suggest that providing access to preferred foods with a token economy can increase food acceptance in young children with autism.



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