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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #312
CE Offered: BACB
Variations of Prompting and Reinforcement Arrangements During Skill Acquisition and Maintenance for Individuals With Autism
Monday, May 30, 2016
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Columbus Hall KL, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Meagan Gregory (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Alison M. Betz (Florida Institute of Technology)
CE Instructor: Meagan Gregory, Ph.D.

Prompting and reinforcement are important components of any instructional program for learners with autism spectrum disorders. The current symposium includes four papers describing modifications to prompting procedures during intraverbal and imitation training and evaluations of different reinforcement arrangements in acquisition and maintenance trials. In the first paper, imitation training was conducted using two therapists, one functioning as a model and one as a prompter. In addition, the effects of a continuous model were also evaluated. In the second paper, the efficacy and efficiency of two types of stimulus control transfer procedures for intraverbal acquisition were evaluated in a replication and extension of Coon & Miguel (2012) conducted with children with autism. In the third paper, the effects of quality of reinforcement on the speed of target acquisition were examined, and the fourth paper evaluated the effects of different schedules of reinforcement on maintenance tasks.

Keyword(s): learning history, maintenance, prompting, skill acquisition

A Comparison of Imitation Training With and Without a Second Therapist

CARA L. PHILLIPS (Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Meghan Deshais (University of Florida), Katie Wiskow (Texas Tech University), Jeanne M. Donaldson (Texas Tech University)

Previous research has shown that imitation is a beneficial skill for children because it can facilitate learning a variety of skills (e.g., through modeling). Additionally, imitation skills have been linked to desirable outcomes for children diagnosed with autism, but the skill is often lacking in this population. The purpose of the current study was to compare the effects of a second therapist on the acquisition of imitative responses to examine the possibility that the presence or absence of a delay between the therapist model and the subjects response might effect acquisition. That is, in the standard model for imitation training, the task is similar to a delayed match-to-sample procedure, which may be more difficult than matching an ongoing sample. Three participants with autism were exposed to three conditions: a 1-therapist (standard) condition, a 2-therapist (delayed) condition, and a 2-therapist (ongoing) condition. Overall results indicated that the 2-person (ongoing) condition was the most efficient with regard to acquisition. These results suggest that the benefit of a 2-therapist arrangement during imitation training can be attributed to the absence of a delay between the therapists model and the subjects response, not the assistance provided by the second therapist per se.


Effects of Exposure to Prompts on the Acquisition of Intraverbals in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Jessica Kay (Caldwell College), April N. Kisamore (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), JAMIE FETZER (Caldwell University)

Mixed findings in past research on efficacy and efficiency of stimulus control transfer procedures for intraverbal acquisition might be due to exposure to those procedures (Coon & Miguel, 2012). The current study systematically replicated Coon and Miguel (2012) by evaluating the efficiency of echoic and tact prompts on the acquisition of French-to-English translations following exposure to each prompt type. We extended Coon and Miguel by (a) evaluating the effects of exposure to the procedures with children with autism spectrum disorder, (b) including behavior-specific praise and (c) evaluating participants current language repertoires. For 2 of 4 participants, the procedure with the most recent exposure resulted in faster acquisition of intraverbals, suggesting the importance of examining learning history prior to selecting teaching procedures.


Effects of Different Reinforcement Schedules During Maintenance Assessment

ERIN RICHARD WHITE (Alpine Learning Group), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University)

Maintenance of treatment effects has been a hallmark of applied behavior analysis since its inception. Despite this, there is limited research in this area. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of three different reinforcement schedules on the maintenance of skills using an alternating treatments design. Three adults with autism were each taught three separate targets in each of three different skill areas: tacting, spelling, and assembling, for a total of nine experimental analyses. Following acquisition, each target was placed on one of three reinforcement schedules (i.e., extinction, VR 3, and FR 1), and data were collected every other week for eight weeks. In the final phase, all targets were placed on extinction, and data continued to be collected every two weeks for an additional eight weeks. Results of this on-going study will be discussed in terms of optimal reinforcement schedules for maintaining treatment effects. Areas for future research will be discussed.


The Effects of Reinforcer Quality on Rate of Skill Acquisition by Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

JENELLE WADE (STE Consultants), Meagan Gregory (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Clare Liddon (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Discrete trial training often employs the use of positive reinforcement during skill acquisition. Varying parameters of reinforcement (e.g., schedule, quality) may affect the rate of acquisition within this teaching procedure. In particular, it has been suggested as best practice to deliver the most potent (i.e., highest quality) reinforcers for better responding (i.e., correct responding with less intrusive prompts); however, there were no data on whether this practice actually produces more rapid skill acquisition. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of quality of reinforcement on rate of skill acquisition during discrete trial instruction. A paired stimulus preference assessment was conducted to identify high (HP) and low preference (LP) items followed by a concurrent and a single schedule reinforcer assessment to determine relative and absolute reinforcement effects. During teaching, a single target skill was identified, and two exemplars were taught in each condition: HP, LP, praise only, and a control (no programmed reinforcement). Sessions to criterion for each condition were measured. Results suggested that quality of reinforcement may not be an important parameter to manipulate when teaching skills to individuals diagnosed with autism.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh