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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #333
Diverse Applications of Preference Assessment Procedures
Monday, May 26, 2014
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
W186 (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DDA/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Mark O'Reilly (The University of Texas at Austin)

A substantial body of research exists on the identification, use, and efficacy of reinforcers with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Increasingly, researchers are focusing on extensions to preference assessment methodology. This symposium includes four data-based presentations from two institutions that highlight unique applications of preference assessment methods. The first paper examines the utility of single-stimulus, paired-choice and competing stimulus assessments in the treatment of severe behavior problems in young children with developmental delays. The second describes the identification, assessment, and application of preferred stimuli with pediatric patients in a minimally conscious state in a rehabilitation setting. In the third presentation, preference assessments were conducted with an adolescent with Smith Lemli Opitz syndrome to assess dimensions of task effort and task preference. The final presentation describes the use of paired-choice preference assessments with bilingual children with disabilities to assess preferences for language and across three social contexts. Methodological extensions as well as implications for use of preference assessments are discussed.

An Examination of the Use of Preference Assessments with Preschool Children Exhibiting Severe Problem Behavior
ASHLEY ROBINSON (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute), jaclyn Brande (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: The identification of effective reinforcers is often critical for the success of behavioral interventions utilizing a positive reinforcement framework. Preference assessments have been consistently shown to be a successful means for identifying items that are preferred by individuals and may, subsequently, serve as reinforcers during assessment and treatment. However, there is a dearth of research on the use of preference assessments with young children with developmental disabilities presenting with severe problem behavior. The purpose of the present study was to examine the utility of indirect (e.g., interviews) and direct preference assessment techniques with children ages 0-5 years exhibiting problem behavior maintained by social or automatic reinforcement. Results support the use of paired-choice, single stimulus, and competing stimulus preference assessments with preschool children exhibiting a range of problem behaviors. Figures 1-2 represent example data with interobserver agreement averaging 97.45. Modifications to standard assessment procedures in addition to implications for incorporating preference assessment results into behavioral interventions for this population will be discussed.

Preference Assessments with Youth in a Minimally Conscious State in a Pediatric Rehabilitation Setting

LUCY LEIBOWITZ (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Valerie Paasch (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Keith J. Slifer (The Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University), Adrianna M. Amari (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Minimally Conscious State (MCS) is a state of partial conscious awareness following a brain injury. Those in a MCS show evidence of subtle, inconsistent but reproducible command following, gesturing, verbalizations, and/or purposeful behavior (Giacino et al., 2002). The extent to which salient stimuli can be identified to help arouse or calm individuals in a MCS can impact the rehabilitation course. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is uniquely suited to systematically assess individuals reactions to potential stimuli. Data will be presented displaying the systematic approach to presenting and assessing stimuli across sensory domains with pediatric cases with varying levels of consciousness treated as inpatients in a rehabilitation setting. Clinicians first conducted a survey with caregivers adapted from the RAISD (Fisher et al., 1996) and consulted with staff to further identify potentially salient stimuli. Based on these interviews, in-vivo stimulus preference assessments evaluated the varying items across sensory domains. Data presented show the idiosyncratic responses (neutral, negative, positive - arousing, and positive - calming) to stimuli, as well as clinical applications (vent weaning, therapy participation, relaxation) of positive stimuli during rehabilitation. Discussion will focus on the unique and important nature of using ABA methods of preference assessments with this population.


An Evaluation of the Influence of Various Dimensions of Effort on Choice Responding

KELLY M. SCHIELTZ (The University Of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University Of Iowa), Alyssa N. Suess (The University Of Iowa), Jessica Emily Schwartz (The University Of Iowa), Nicole H. Lustig (The University of Iowa)

The purpose of this study was to evaluate choices between dimensions of effort (task amount and task strategy) and preference (type of task) on choice responding. Jake was a 14 year old male diagnosed with Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome. All procedures were conducted in an outpatient clinic and IOA averaged 99%. During Phase 1, a preference assessment was conducted within a concurrent schedules design to determine Jakes relative preferences between completing an academic task (single-digit subtraction) with or without an instructional strategy (use of a calculator) and the amount of work required. Results (Figure 1, top left panel) showed that Jake always chose to complete the lesser amount of work. During Phase 2, a second preference assessment evaluated Jakes relative preferences between completing the same academic task with a calculator or a more preferred vocational task (photo copying). Results (top right panel) showed that Jake continued to choose the option with the lesser amount of work. These results suggested that response effort, in the form of amount of work, influenced Jakes choice responding more than preference.


Evaluation of Choices by Bilingual Children with Disabilities Across Social Contexts: The Role of Stimulus and Language Preference

YANIZ C. PADILLA DALMAU (Virginia Institute of Autism), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Patrick Romani (The University of Iowa), Jessica Emily Schwartz (The University of Iowa), Gregory Breznican (Virginia Institute of Autism)

Stimulus and language preferences of four children with disabilities who were exposed to Spanish and English in their natural environment were evaluated during three sequentially administered paired-stimulus preference assessments across three contexts: attention/talking, tangible/playing, and demands/working. The purposes of this study were to (a) identify whether participants displayed a language preference and if so, if their language preference was consistent across the three social contexts and to (b) evaluate the interaction between language and stimulus preference within each context. Nine choice options (four in English, four in Spanish, and one no stimulus/no language) were presented in pairs for a total of 36 choice trials per preference assessment. Data were collected on participants choices and IOA averaged 97.92%. The results of this study showed that (a) children demonstrated language preferences for their L1 or L2, and these preferences were not always consistent across social context(see Figures 1-4) and (b) all children showed displacement of stimuli across the preference hierarchy due to language, but the magnitude of the displacement varied across context and participant (see Figure 5). These results suggest that the language of presentation may influence the results of preference assessments and that the influence of language may vary across context.




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