A Preliminary Evaluation of an Indirect Assessment of Sensitivity to Aversive Stimulation

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Aversive tasks and activities are commonly encountered in the everyday routines of most individuals. For individuals with intellectual disabilities, a means to assess individual sensitivities to aversive stimulation could allow caregivers to avoid unnecessary contact with aversive events, teach appropriate ways to avoid or escape aversive situations, and condition tolerance to unavoidable aversive tasks and activities. The current study, conducted at a large, state-operated residential facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, used an anecdotal assessment, the Sensitivities to Aversive Stimulation Survey (SASS), to evaluate the relative aversiveness of an array of commonly encountered tasks and activities for each participant. Five ... continued below

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Hope, Mariah L. August 2017.

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  • Hope, Mariah L.

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Aversive tasks and activities are commonly encountered in the everyday routines of most individuals. For individuals with intellectual disabilities, a means to assess individual sensitivities to aversive stimulation could allow caregivers to avoid unnecessary contact with aversive events, teach appropriate ways to avoid or escape aversive situations, and condition tolerance to unavoidable aversive tasks and activities. The current study, conducted at a large, state-operated residential facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, used an anecdotal assessment, the Sensitivities to Aversive Stimulation Survey (SASS), to evaluate the relative aversiveness of an array of commonly encountered tasks and activities for each participant. Five caregivers complete the 25-question assessment, using Likert-type scales to rate individual participants' affect, compliance or tolerance, and severity of problem behavior related to each item. The mean scores of the raters were used to estimate the aversiveness of each task, condition, or activity. The outcomes from the SASS were then compared with outcomes of an experimental analysis in which participants could emit responses to escape situations that were ranked either high or low using the SASS. Relative aversiveness was evaluated by comparing the percentage of trials with escape behavior and duration of exposure for each stimulus. Preliminary results indicate that the SASS may be useful in identifying aversive tasks and stimuli.

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  • August 2017

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  • Oct. 9, 2017, 11:44 a.m.

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Hope, Mariah L. A Preliminary Evaluation of an Indirect Assessment of Sensitivity to Aversive Stimulation, thesis, August 2017; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1011771/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .