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

Previous Page


Symposium #68
CE Offered: BACB
Issues in Preference and Reinforcement in Children With Autism
Saturday, May 29, 2010
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
207AB (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Anibal Gutierrez, Jr. (University of Miami)
Discussant: John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
CE Instructor: Meeta Patel, Ph.D.
Abstract: Research in preference and reinforcer assessments has traditionally focused on the identification of tangible and food items that will are highly preferred and will function as reinforcer. The results of these assessments have been successfully in applied behavior analysis as a core feature of intervention plans. More recently, research in autism has focused on the development of joint attention skills and other socially-based skills for which the use of socially-based reinforcers is important in an effort to develop functionally relevant treatment approaches. In order to develop effective socially-based interventions, an emerging area of research has focused on the most effective methods to assess for social reinforcers. This line of research extends traditional reinforcer assessments to include the assessment of socially-based consequences. Research is also emerging in the establishment of social stimuli as conditioned reinforcers. This line of research is investigating methods to condition social stimuli but establishing them as discriminative stimuli. Finally, research is also evaluating the stability of these social consequences across time. This are of study aims to inform clinical practice regarding the extent to which preference for social reinfocers are stable across time.
Determining the Reinforcing Value of Social Consequences and Establishing Social Consequences as Reinforcers
Hilary Gibson (New England Center for Children), DANIEL GOULD (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: The effective and efficient establishment of social stimuli as conditioned reinforcers is an ongoing area of interest in applied research. The purpose of the current study was to determine the reinforcing value of social consequences and to evaluate two procedures to determine if social consequences could be conditioned as reinforcers. A reinforcer assessment of social consequences was conducted to determine the baseline reinforcing value of two social stimuli, praise and back pats. A pairing procedure and a procedure in which the social stimuli were established as discriminative stimuli (the “SD procedure”) were evaluated to determine which, if either, would effectively condition social consequences as reinforcers. One child with autism participated in the study. It was determined that prior to conditioning neither social stimulus functioned as a reinforcer. Social consequences were not effectively conditioned as reinforcers using the pairing procedure, however praise and back pats may have been conditioned as weak reinforcers using the SD procedure. This study raised questions about which qualities and characteristics of the social stimuli prevented them from functioning as strong conditioned reinforcers.
A Comparison of Four Methods to Assess Social Reinforcers in Children With Autism
AARON J FISCHER (Louisiana State University), Anibal Gutierrez, Jr. (University of Miami), Melissa N. Hale (University of Miami), Jennifer S. Durocher (University of Miami), Michael Alessandri (University of Miami)
Abstract: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show deficits in social and communicative skills as well as deficits in joint attention. The identification of social reinforcers may be important when teaching some skills, like joint attention to young children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Joint attention has been linked to the development of cognitive, language, and play skills of children with ASD and has become a target skill for intervention. Therefore, it is important to identify specific social consequences that will function as reinforcers. The present study evaluated four methods to assess for social reinforcers as well as the relative reinforcing value of social consequences. The first method used a repeated measures single operant paradigm; the second method used a repeated measures concurrent operant paradigm; the third method used a paired-stimuli paradigm; and the fourth method used a multiple stimulus without replacement paradigm. Using picture identification cards, the assessments examined five socially based consequences as well as a control condition that did not produce any reinforcement as a consequence.
Evaluating the Stability of Preferences for Attention for Children With ASD
MARY PAWLOWSKI (Nova Southeastern University), Anibal Gutierrez, Jr. (University of Miami), Melissa N. Hale (University of Miami), Jennifer S. Durocher (University of Miami), Michael Alessandri (University of Miami)
Abstract: Research literature has evaluated the stability across time of preferences for tangible reinforcers for individuals with developmental disabilities. This literature suggests that preference for tangible reinforcers is idiosyncratic and unstable across time. To date, however, the stability of preference over time for social reinforcers has not been empirically studied. Currently, it is unknown the extent to which preference for social reinforcers is similar or different to preference for non-social reinforcers. As treatment approaches begin to target important socially-based skills like joint attention, information regarding the stability of socially-based (i.e., functional reinforcers) becomes important for the development and refinement of effective interventions. This study investigates the stability of preference for social reinforcers across three time points for children with autism. Results show that stability of preference for socially-based reinfrocers may be variable across time. These data demonstrate that preference for socially-based reinfocers may be more variable than preference for tangible reinforcers.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh