Behaving in novel ways is essential to the development of the types of complex performances described by the term creativity, problem solving, and perseverance. Some research suggests that response variability is an operant and a critical component of novel behavior. However, other account of novel behavior may be more parsimonious. Topographical variability has rarely been examined, nor has operant variability with organisms with baselines featuring stereotypic responding. This study examined the effects of a variability-specifying contingency on the cumulative novel responses of undergraduate students. Using the PORTL apparatus, participants interacted with a ball with a single hand. When the variability-specifying contingency was in effect, novel topographies were reinforced. When a reinforce every response condition was implemented, the participants did not emit any novel responses. When variability-specifying contingencies were in effect, novel responses were rarely followed by subsequent novel responses. They were mostly followed by repeated emission of the same topography, or by other previously emitted topographies. Novel responding did not persist long, although the variability-specifying contingency remained in effect and the potential for novel responding was great. The variability-specifying contingency often resulted in stereotypic response chains. Each of these findings call into the question the assertion that variability is an operant and suggests other possible explanations for the observed novelty.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2015, Texas special education programs were rated among the lowest in the nation. School districts in the state have a substantial need for effective and efficient staff training. In this study, researchers implemented TAPS: A Talk Aloud Problem Solving Approach Packet to teach active listener qualities to staff members in a life skills special education classroom. A multiple baseline across staff members was used to evaluate the effects of the TAPS training on the presence and absence of the staff members' active listener qualities during a pre-test, a post-test, and probes. The staff members that underwent TAPS training acquired all of the active listener qualities as a function of the TAPS training, and the effects of the training maintained during probe sessions. Additionally, TAPS training appeared to improve staff members' scores on the Whimbey Analytical Skills Inventory (WASI) Test and anecdotally improved the quality of staff and student tutoring interactions. Several areas of potential research and improvement are discussed.
A common goal of instructional techniques is to teach skills effectively and efficiently. Matrix training techniques are both effective and efficient as they allow for the emergence of untrained responding to novel stimulus arrangements, a phenomenon known as recombinative generalization. However, it is unclear which type of matrix arrangement best promotes recombinative generalization. The current study compared two common matrix training approaches, an overlapping (OV) design and a non-overlapping (NOV) design, with respect to arranging relations targeted for training. We conducted a replication evaluation of a Wilshire and Toussaint study, and taught two typically-developing preschoolers compound object-action labels in Spanish and used either an OV or NOV matrix training design. Results from both studies demonstrated the participant trained with an OV design produced recombinative generalization and participants trained with a NOV design produced significantly low levels of emergence or none at all. These results suggest that an OV matrix design facilitates recombinative generalization more effectively than a NOV design. Implications for instructional arrangements are discussed.
Very few behavior-change programs with canines produce effects that persist beyond the training condition. The present study is an experimental demonstration of a constructional program that established calm patterns of behavior as alternatives to hyperactive ones. Three dogs that exhibited hyperactive patterns were chosen as subjects. Seven conditions common to canine-caretaker relationships were used to determine which factors resulted in the hyperactive patterns. Then, sitting and lying down were taught as beginning points using touch as a reinforcer. The final behavior, maintained by naturally occurring reinforcers, was established errorlessly. The study used a control-analysis strategy of behavior change with a changing-criterion design. The intervention resulted in an immediate reduction in hyperactivity and an increase in sitting and lying down for all dogs.
Effective and efficient training strategies are needed to provide training to novel therapists whom provide early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) services to young children with autism. We evaluated the effects of interactive computer-based training (ICT) on novice therapists' implementation of two, common EIBI instructional techniques: discrete-trial instruction (DTI) and naturalistic instruction. Results demonstrated that ICT improved trainees' instructional fidelity during role-plays with a confederate for DTI instruction and also with a child with autism for both DTI and naturalistic instruction. As a result, the requirement for supervisor feedback on performance was minimized. In addition, results suggest that child language improved as a result of improved therapist performance.
Study 1 evaluated agreement among five respondents using the Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST), the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) and Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF). Respondents provided ratings for 20 target behaviors exhibited by 10 individuals. At least 4/5 raters agreed on the primary maintaining variable in 80% of cases with the FAST, 70% of cases with the MAS, and 55% of cases with the QABF. Study 2 evaluated correspondence between results of anecdotal assessments and experimental functional analysis for 10 target behaviors selected from Study 1. Correspondence between the experimental functional analyses was 60% with the FAST and the MAS, 50% with the QABF.
Observing emotional responses is recognized as a valuable clinical skill in a variety of professions, including applied behavior analysis. Emotional responses can flag possible contingencies thereby guiding a behavior analyst to better select valid measures, goals, and procedures. Additionally, emotional responses can be goals in and of themselves. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of a workshop on the observation and description of emotional responses by behavior analysts-in-training. The procedures included instructions, modeling, practice, discussion and feedback. The workshop included a blend of trainer presentation and interteaching strategies. The effects of the workshop were evaluated using a single-subject A-B design with multiple probe measures across four students. During probe assessments participants watched short video clips of family interactions and wrote a descriptive narrative in response to several questions. This created a permanent record for quantitative evaluation and analysis. The study resulted in an increase in the number of descriptions of emotional responses among all participants. The participants also increased responses tying the emotional response to external environmental events more often in the post-workshop assessment than the pre-workshop assessment. Results are discussed within the context of training applied behavior analysts, the analysis of verbal behavior, and the role of emotions in clinical practice.
The purpose of this experiment was to investigate Tosti's proposal about the timing of feedback. The study examined whether it is better to correct immediately after the error occurs or whether it is better to wait until immediately before the next opportunity to respond. In addition, it aimed to determine whether corrections delivered at different times produced different learner affects. Four children with autism were taught to label two sets of pictures under the two different conditions. Results showed that the timing of the feedback yields similar results in regards to number of correct responses and total trial count. However, in regards to time spent in teaching and learner affect, correcting errors before the next opportunity to respond showed to be the more efficient procedure and produced more favorable affect.
Prompts are implemented often in training procedures, to include conditional discriminations, and this can lead to prompt dependency. The current study extends a prior study that suggested that the effectiveness of supplementary visual stimuli displaying the sample and comparison was dependent on the timing in relation to the selection task, presented as a prompt or feedback, in a match-to-sample procedure. The current research examines if the differences in that effectiveness were due to differences in observing behavior in those two conditions. Measures of observing behavior were determined by making access to the individual visual stimuli contingent on clicking on the visual stimulus and keeping the cursor located on the stimulus. Participants viewed the sample comparison much less than the comparison stimulus in both the prompt and feedback conditions. Latency to select the comparison stimulus was much shorter for the prompt condition suggesting that the participants might have interacted differently with the selection task in the two conditions.
Behavioral momentum theory (BMT) has become a prominent method of studying the effects of reinforcement on operant behavior. BMT represents a departure from the Skinnerian tradition in that it identifies the strength of responding with its resistance to change. Like in many other operant research paradigms, however, responses are considered to be momentary phenomena and so little attention has been paid to non-rate dimensions of responding. The current study takes up the question of whether or not the degree of effort defining a discriminated operant class has any meaningful effect on its resistance to change. Using a force transducer, rats responded on a two-component multiple VI 60-s VI 60-s schedule where each component was correlated with a different force requirement. Resistance to change was tested through prefeeding and extinction. Proportional declines in response rate were equal across components during all disruption tests. Differentiated response classes remained intact throughout. The negative result suggests several future research directions.
Preference assessments are used in clinical settings to identify stimuli with reinforcing potential. The progressive-ratio schedule has shown to be useful in clinical assessments in identifying stimuli with stronger reinforcer efficacy that corresponds to formalized assessments.The current study utilized a progressive-ratio schedule to compare videos of high and low preference assessed by verbal reports of preference with college students. Results indicated breakpoints were higher for high preferred videos than low preferred videos for three out of five participants, but preference was not indicative of performance.
Behavioral skills training (BST) and in situ training (IST) have been evaluated as methods to teach different safety skills to individuals with developmental disabilities. Research on BST has examined topics such as gun safety, abduction prevention, poison avoidance, and sexual abuse prevention. A large safety issue that is missing from the literature is drowning prevention and water safety skills. Drowning is one of the most prevalent issues facing facing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), particularly those who elope from their homes or caregivers. The current study aimed the effectiveness of using BST+IST to teach three water safety skills to three children with ASD. The intial form of intervention was BST with total task presentation of the skill, using verbal instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback. If this intervention did not result in an increase in performance, the skill was broken down into individual component presentation, in which each component of the skill was taught using the same procedures. Results from the current study showed that BST+IST was effective in teaching all skills to all participants.
Children diagnosed with autism are often described as having limited or restricted activities that serve as reinforcers as compared to neurotypical peers. Many theories suggest that one of the many ways children develop is through participation in play. This results in children coming into contact with new environmental stimuli. The procedures used to enhance play skills for children diagnosed with autism typically involve training novel responses with novel stimuli (e.g., toys). This is often done using naturalistic procedures. Because multiple procedures are used, it is unclear what procedure or combination of procedures causes the increases in play repertoires. This study investigated an important component of the treatment package know as reciprocal imitation training. Specifically, the study examined whether increased opportunities, contingent imitation without the requirement to imitate, or contingent imitation with the requirement to imitate would increase the number of toys a child diagnosed with autism would play with. The results showed dramatic increases in the number of toys the child independently chose to play with and an increase in the spontaneous use of different response topographies across novel stimuli only when the student was required to imitate a model. The results are discussed in terms of mediated generalization, the use of common responses, stimulus class formation and stimulus class expansion.
Caregivers' evaluation of evidence-based behavioral interventions may differ dependent upon the type of language used to describe the intervention. We administered a survey to 24 parents of children with autism to assess social validity measures of behavioral interventions described in one of three communication styles: technical, conversational, and conversational with intended outcome. Participants were presented with a description of two behavior-reduction and two behavior-acquisition interventions. Overall, interventions described in conversational with intended outcome style received the highest social validity ratings, while interventions described in the technical style received the lowest ratings. Moreover, behavior-acquisition interventions were rated significantly higher than behavior-reduction interventions when described in either conversational or conversational with intended outcome style. The current study supports the requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's Compliance Code that behavior analysts should inform the client/consumer of the treatment/interventions in an understandable language. Findings are also discussed in terms of verbal communities.
The current study examines anecdotal assessment, functional analysis, and treatment outcomes from 44 participants. Agreement across Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS), Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF), and Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST) assessments, agreement between those anecdotal assessments and functional analyses, and agreement between those anecdotal assessments and treatment outcomes were analyzed across maintaining variables and topography categories of challenging behaviors. Overall, the QABF had the highest agreement results with functional analyses and treatment with 70% and 92% of cases respectively. Patterns in the distribution of maintaining variables was examined across behavior topography categories.
This study examined the effects of fluency-based instruction on the identification of six component-composite relations for early reading skills. Five participants (ages 5-8) who struggled with reading participated. A multiple probe design was used to assess the effects of frequency building on prerequisite skills on the emergence of composite reading skills. The results show that the prerequisite skills taught did not have an effect on the composite skill probes but did have an effect on the assessment scores. The data expand the research pertaining to Precision Teaching, fluency-based instruction, and component-composite relations. These data suggest that additional skills may be needed to be taught in order to effects on the composite skills. In addition, these authors identify the need for the identification of the component skills necessary to teach rapid autonomic naming.
Several evidence-based procedures based upon operant learning principles have been developed to teach language, and for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), naturalistic interventions are commonly implemented as they are both effective and developmentally appropriate. The current investigation compared contingent responsive intervention and combined intervention on the effects of language use in four children diagnosed with ASD. Results suggest that a combined intervention procedure increases target language and requests in children with simplified language (e.g., one-word phrase) as well as complex language (e.g., simple sentences).
A conditional discrimination training procedure was used to establish stimulus-stimulus relations that might lead to the emergence of relations that define playing by ear. The participants were four college students. Overall, the results varied across participants. Of the 3 participants who received Training 1 (hear-note-name/select-key), all 3 participants acquired that relation. Out of those 3 participants, 2 participants showed emergence of the hear-see-key-pressed/say-note-name relation after Training 1. Of the 3 participants who received Training 2, (hear-note-name/select-tone), 2 participants acquired that relation for at least one set. Out of those 3 participants, 1 participant showed emergence of the hear-tone/say-note-name relation. One out of three participants was successful in correctly playing a sequence of four notes by ear at the end of the study. One participant did not complete the study due to availability conflicts. The overall results can suggest that the relations used in this study should be taken into account when training someone to play by ear. However, the current data do not allow us to conclude whether it is necessary to teach or test all of these relations in order to teach playing by ear.
Superstitions flourish in cultures around the word and in everyday life. Superstitions are so prevalent and influence personal and political decisions, therefore, we sought to develop a classroom demonstration of superstitious behavior that could be used to show quickly and effectively how powerful adventitious reinforcement could be in modifying behavior. An online game was developed and played by one hundred thirteen university students enrolled in a class on critical thinking. Participants gained points (reinforcement) arbitrarily during either 25% or 50% of each game's (A or B) 3 minute duration. Although points were non-contingent, students often engaged in superstations rules or patterns. Results of both self-reports and computer generated data showed, the games were successful in producing superstitious behavior patterns in about 50% of our participants. More students showed superstitious behavior in the 50% game than in the 25% game. We conclude that this is due to the higher reinforcement rate of in 50% game. For future studies, rearranging the stimulus array into a pattern that does not itself strongly control behavior could help refine the results.
School readiness literature indicates that skills which lend themselves to readiness and success in primary school are not amongst the skills generally taught in center based care facilities. Furthermore, children enrolled in non- maternal care settings are at greater risk for developing problem behavior. To address this issue, the Preschool Life Skills (PLS) program was created as a preventative intervention to teach functional communication and social skills to typically developing children. Children diagnosed with developmental disabilities are not immune to these concerns and are also at risk for developing problem behaviors in non-maternal settings, due to insufficient instruction and contingency management. The current study aimed to evaluate and identify the dose of instruction necessary for the PLS curriculum to be a successful and efficient teaching tool for children with developmental disabilities. Twelve preschool life skills were taught to 9 participants across 4 instruction units. Instruction was provided by means of a three-tiered instructional approach, which incorporated class-wide instruction, followed by small group and individual instruction as necessary. Skills were sequentially introduced and unit probes were conducted following mastery of all 3 skills within a unit. Results indicated that the adaptations made to the original preschool life skills curriculum led to skill acquisition with all nine participants.
Restauranteurs' use of Styrofoam take-out containers was evaluated using an intervention package containing informational components, a written commitment, and an incentive system. A decrease in the use of Styrofoam take-out materials was observed with 4 of 6 restaurants. Across all participants, we observed a 15.7% increase in alternative containers and a 15.7% decrease in Styrofoam containers. Overall, a decreased use of Styrofoam take-out containers was observed with restaurateurs who were able to identify suitable alternative products.
Play is considered to be important for the development of young children in that it provides a means to expand their interests, promote engagement and learning, and increase social interactions. Children with autism, however, display deficits in play skills, such as lack of pretend play and rigid or stereotyped manners of play. Research suggests supported play techniques, such as reciprocal imitation training, play expansions, and scaffolding increase play skills in children diagnosed with autism. The current study evaluated the effects of a training package to teach staff members supported play techniques to six young children diagnosed with autism. The study employed a concurrent multiple baseline design across two preschool classrooms. The results suggest that the training package successfully increased staff member use of the supported play techniques and child and staff engagement. The training, however, did not have consistent effects on child social engagement (proximity, attending, and initiating) or on the types of child play (simple manipulation, advanced manipulation, and pretend play). Staff member responses to the post-intervention satisfaction and feedback survey were positive and the results are discussed in the context of the observation procedures and directions for future studies.
Of the approximately 3.9 million dogs that enter US animal shelters each year, many exhibit behaviors related to fear, which can affect their likelihood of adoption. Current dog training procedures to treat fear include counterconditioning and desensitization, which can often take months or years to show any behavior change and do not teach specific behaviors aimed to increase the dog's chance of being adopted. The current study used a negative reinforcement shaping procedure to teach fearful dogs to approach and and interact with people. The results showed that constructional fear treatment increased the amount of time the dog spent at the front of the kennel, and increased sniffing, tail wagging, and accepting petting for all 3 participants.
The prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders is rapidly increasing among college students. The use of real time monitoring in conjunction with contingency management procedures to reduce alcohol consumption has only recently been developed. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to learn more about natural patterns of alcohol consumption in college-aged adults. A second goal was to evaluate a novel, handheld technology for obtaining reliable samples over extended time periods. College students were given a SoberLinkTM SL2 breathalyzer for eight weeks to monitor their drinking behaviors and asked to self-report the number of drinks consumed each day. Participants received one to three text messages per day to provide breath samples and earned monetary rewards for submitting samples within the allotted time. The results of this study showed that college students tend to consume alcohol during the evening hours and mostly on the weekends. There was a weak to medium correlation between average breath alcohol concentration and conditional average drinks. Compliance with prompts ranged between 77 and 84 percent and monetary earnings ranged between $152 and $160. Naturalistic observations of college drinking may aid in the development of interventions to prevent excessive drinking and the SL2 breathalyzer may have great potential to be used in a number of therapeutic approaches.
Social deficits are one of the defining symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and affect a child’s ability to build relationships with others. These deficits put children with autism at a disadvantage when most of their world is focused on building connections with others – family, friendships, and community ties. Sunny Starts, a service-learning project, was created to specifically meet the needs of families with young toddlers with autism. The primary focus of Sunny Starts is to enhance the quality of the parent-child relationship by teaching parents a basic teaching interaction and to arrange the child’s environment in ways that are mutually reinforcing. The purpose of this experiment is to study the effects of the Sunny Starts DANCE training package, a responsive parent training program, on three levels of parent and child behaviors: 1) teaching episodes, 2) turn taking, social attending, vocal requests, and 3) synchronous engagement. Participants included two parent-child dyads. Parent training included 5-minute video assessments, video review, descriptions, rationales, modeling, practice, and feedback. The effects of the parent training were evaluated using a concurrent multiple baseline across participants. Results indicate parent teaching episodes and child behaviors (turn taking, social attending, and verbal requests) increased during the intervention phase. The duration of parent-child synchronous engagement maintained at high levels and slightly increased.
We conducted a contingency analysis to evaluate if a sequential relation between social initiations and positive social responses increased for both therapists and children with autism following a conditioned reinforcement procedure. Participants included child-therapist dyads, which were previously identified as having low rapport. These dyads were observed prior to and following an intervention designed to establish therapists' social behavior as a reinforcer. Sessions consisted of unstructured play between the therapist and child. Results from a Yule's Q analysis show that both the child and adult positive responding to the others' social initiations increased following the intervention. Findings highlight the reciprocal effects of therapist-child interactions as well as the effectiveness of establishing social attention as a reinforcer via an operant discrimination training procedure.
Staff training packages combining instructions, modeling, practice, and feedback have been shown to be effective in demonstrating skills to work in early intensive behavioral intervention, but maintenance and generalization of the skills trained are often not addressed. Establishing a community of practice, in which staff members continue to learn and develop new skill sets from one another through shared experiences and information, may lead to the endurance and maintenance of desired staff behavior over time. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the effects of a behaviorally designed community of practice on staff use of socially embedded consequences. The effects of the training procedure were evaluated using a concurrent multiple baseline design across two sites (7 staff members). The results suggest that the behaviorally planned community of practice was effective in reinforcing and maintaining staff use of socially embedded consequences for at least 5 to 9 weeks. Additionally, the number of learning opportunities provided by the staff and social engagement between staff and child increased.
Sidman's (2000) theory of stimulus equivalence predicts an interaction between the development of analytic units and the development of equivalence relations. Previous research has documented these interactions (stewart, Barnes-Holmes, Roche, & Smeets, 2002; Vaidya & Brackney, 2014), therefore the current study attempted to replicate the effects seen in Vaidya & Brackney, 2014 (Experiment 2). Baseline conditional discriminations were trained for two sets of three, three-member classes, while participants simply observed stimuli in the third set which was arranged identical to those of Sets 1 and 2. Following equivalence tests where performance met the accuracy criterion of 85% for Sets 1 and 2, participants then entered a simple successive discrimination training phase where common responses were then trained with an equivalence class (pressing the Q key in the presence of A1, B1, or C1), cross equivalence classes (pressing the R key in the presence of A4, A5, or A6), or for stimuli where the participants had experience with them, but the contingencies were never arranged to facilitate equivalence class formation. Results showed a facilitative effect for common responses drawn from within equivalence classes (Set 1), and a retardation effect for common responses drawn from across equivalence classes (Set 2), for three of the five participants. Results for Set 3 showed an acquisition that fell intermediate to that of Sets 1 and 2, respectively, suggesting an interaction occurring between existing equivalence relations and the development of analytic units.
Reinforcer assessments have largely relied on the use of progressive ratio (PR) schedules to identify stimuli that function as reinforcers. PR schedules evaluate the reinforcing efficacy of a stimulus by measuring the number of responses produced in order to access a stimulus as the number of required responses increases. The current evaluation extends the literature on reinforcer assessments by measuring responding under a progressive force (PF) schedule, in addition to progressive ratio requirements. We compared responding under PR and PF schedules with two children with autism using a multielement design embedded within a reversal experimental design. Results were mixed and implications for further development of reinforcer assessment methods (particularly PF schedules) are discussed.
There is a significant body of literature stating that caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, yet its effects on operant behavior are little understood. Some of the current research on caffeine suggests that it may play a role in altering motivational states related to transitions between previous and upcoming work requirements. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of caffeine on postreinforcement pausing during transitions between small and large fixed ratio rudiments. Eight rats were exposed to five doses of caffeine and and a two-component multiple schedule. We found that caffeine does systematically alter the length of pausing during transitions between fixed ratio requirements, however the magnitude of the effect may be dependent on the baseline rate of responding.
An evaluation of a series of interventions was conducted for an individual who engaged in life-threatening rumination and emesis. There is substantial research indicating that the delivery of peanut butter (Barton & Barton, 1985; Greene, Johnston, Rossi, Racal, Winston, & Barron, 1991) and/or chopped bread following meals (Thibadeau, Blew, Reedy, & Luiselli, 1999), chewing gum (Rhine & Tarbox, 2009), and satiation procedures (Dudley, Johnston, & Barnes, 2002; Lyons, Rue, Luiselli, & DiGennario, 2007; Rast, Johnston, Drum, & Conrin, 1981) can be effective treatments for rumination. In the current case, each of these interventions was found to be either ineffective or contraindicated based on the participant's fragile health status. Previous literature has shown that liquid delivery can affect rates of rumination in some clients (Barton & Barton, 1985,; Heering, Wilder, & Ladd, 2003). We examined how liquid affected the rate of rumination during and after meals. Based on the individual's medical condition, oral nutrition and fluids were discontinued indefinitely and a gastronomy-jejunostomy tube was used for nutrition. All rumination ceased when fluids and nutrition were delivered via the jejunostomy tube. Finally, a fluid analysis procedure was implemented in which the participant received small amounts of fluid while NPO. Color and flavor were manipulated systematically, and results suggested that flavor impacted the rate of rumination.
The present study examined operant extinction in a controlled setting using a human operant paradigm. Participants watched a preferred video. During the video, either the video or audio portion of the video was selectively removed, on average every 15 s. Participants could restore the video by pressing a force transducer. In one group, relatively low forces were required (250 g) and in the other relatively high forces were required (750 g). At the 20th and 30th minute during the session, the video or audio was removed but the participants could not restore the component for 30 s. The results showed that responding during the probe increased relative to 30-s periods prior and following the probe, characteristic of an extinction burst. The results also showed that overall we saw increases in force under high force conditions during extinction when presses no longer produced sound or video, and force changed little during the low force conditions. We conclude that extinction bursts are a robust phenomenon that can be demonstrated in humans. Additionally, the topographies, i.e. force, established during baseline and the modality of the consequence appear to be two variables determining the short-term course of extinction.
We administered the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) and the Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF) to five raters and compared the results with functional analysis outcomes for 12 cases in which agreement was obtained for at least four out of five raters on either anecdotal assessment. The scores for functional categories on the MAS and QABF were ranked by averaging the scores for the raters who agreed on the primary maintaining variable. Functional analysis results were ranked by examining average responding across all conditions. A comparison showed correspondence between the highest category and the highest functional analysis condition for 10 out of 11 cases for the MAS and all 10 cases for the QABF. Correspondence for the category and condition ranked second was found for 2 out of 11 cases for the MAS and 2 out of 10 cases for the QABF. The magnitude of difference between categories on the MAS/QABF did not appear to predict the amount of difference in responding in the corresponding functional analyses.
Cooper, Heron and Heward define maintenance as the extent to which a learner continues to perform a target behavior after the intervention has been terminated. Testing for maintenance allows the trainer to see if gains were sustained following the termination of a treatment program. In addition, once it is shown that a learner's skills have remained in the repertoire, assessment of generalization is possible. Previous literature in behavior skills training have assessed maintenance in a variety of settings for a variety of skills. Following maintenance assessments, booster sessions are commonly used to re-train skills that did not maintain at criterion levels. The current project assessed the maintenance of caregivers' skills following a training package used to teach three behavior management techniques (use reinforcement, pivot, protect-redirect) at a large, residential care facility. Procedures were developed to assess caregivers' maintenance of the three behavior management techniques using a pre-test- post-test design. If needed, skills were re-established using 5-20 minute booster sessions. The results showed that time between post-test and maintenance did not seem to have a strong effect on maintenance scores. In general, post-test scores were somewhat indicative of maintenance scores, and patterns were most apparent across tools.
Sidman's (2000) theory of stimulus equivalence states that all positive elements in a reinforcement contingency enter an equivalence class. The theory also states that if an element from an equivalence class conflicts with a programmed reinforcement contingency, the conflicting element will drop out of the equivalence class. Minster et al. (2006) found evidence suggesting that a conflicting element does not drop out of an equivalence class. In an effort to explain maintained accuracy on programmed reinforcement contingencies, the authors seem to suggest that participants will behave in accordance with a particular partitioning of the equivalence class which continues to include the conflicting element. This hypothesis seems to explain their data well, but their particular procedures are not a good test of the notion of "dropping out" due to the pre-establishment of equivalence classes before the conflicting member entered the class. The current experiment first developed unpartitioned equivalence classes and only later exposed participants to reinforcement contingencies that conflicted with pre-established equivalence classes. The results are consistent with the notion that a partition developed such that the conflicting element had dropped out of certain subclasses of the original equivalence class. The notion of a partitioning of an equivalence class seems to provide a fuller description of the phenomenon Sidman (1994, 2000) described as "dropping out" of an equivalence class.
Community exercise can offer many benefits for children, including the opportunity to engage in physical activity and interact with peers in a social setting. Children with autism do not engage in as many community activities as their typical peers. This study examines conditions to teach young children to complete yoga poses to mastery. The effects of prompting, programmed reinforcers, and a chaining criteria were evaluated using a comparison design with two baselines and one intervention condition, replicated across two children with autism. Both children mastered performance of all four targeted yoga poses. The findings are discussed in the context of previous research on the benefits of yoga.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric condition affecting almost one percent of the US population. Typical antipsychotics (e.g., haloperidol) have been in use for several decades and are generally very effective in treating the emotional and cognitive effects of schizophrenia, but are used as the last line of treatment due to their severe extrapyramidal motor side effects under chronic exposure. The present study was conducted to investigate the role of sex in determining the oromotor side effects of typical antipsychotics via measuring different behavioral dimensions of male and female Sprague-Dawley rats licking sucrose after haloperidol treatment. The results showed a stronger sensitivity in female rats than male rats within total licking responses and inter-lick intervals. The present results suggest closer attention needs to be paid to the role that sexual hormones play in the motor slowing and behavior-reducing effects of antipsychotics.
The current evaluation assessed the effectiveness of an intensive toilet training procedure for three young boys with autism. The evaluation extended the work of LeBlanc et al. (2005) by assessing parents’ preference to include the usage of urine alarm and positive practice. In addition, we collected descriptor data on challenging behaviors. All three parent participants’ elected not to use the urine alarm and one parent elected to discontinue the implementation of positive practice techniques. Researchers chose a nonconcurrent multiple baseline across participants design to evaluate the effects of the intervention. All three child participants’ increased successful self-initiations for the toilet and decreased accidents across home and clinic settings. Findings suggest that clinicians should partner with parents to develop individualized toileting interventions that are acceptable and effective.
Parents with children diagnosed with autism face a variety of stressors. The typical approach to dealing with these stressors is pathological which focuses on the problem by attempting to eliminate or alleviate the stressors through counseling, behavioral therapy, tutoring, and/or drugs. The purpose of the current study was to assess an alternative approach, a constructional one, which focuses on solutions by teaching 3 parents to analyze their life, formulate goals, and develop programs to reach their goals building off of their strengths and assets. The by-product is the reduction or elimination of the stressors. The results suggest that the use of a constructional program is very effective in helping parents develop a new repertoire that will ultimately improve their overall quality of life.
Discrete trial instruction (DTI) and naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) are often incorporated into early intensive behavioral interventions for young children with autism. Recent advances in staff training methods have demonstrated that self-instructional manuals, video models, and computer-based training are effective and efficient ways to improve staff implementation of these teaching strategies however research in this area is limited. The current evaluation assessed the effects of a computer-based training package including self-instructional manuals with embedded video models on direct-care staff’s implementation of DTI and an NDBI. All participants’ DTI teaching fidelity increased during role-plays with an adult and with a child with autism and all participants increased teaching fidelity across untrained instructional programs. In addition, moderate improvement was demonstrated following NDBI training on the use of correct prompts, environmental arrangements, and response interaction. Together, these results indicate that therapists are able to acquire a large number of skills using two teaching techniques, DTI and NDBI, following brief computer-based training.
Many people who receive exposure-based treatments for anxiety disorders exhibit a return of fear and avoidance which is often referred to as renewal or relapse. Human and nonhuman research on fear conditioning and renewal has been instrumental in helping understand relapse in anxiety disorders. The purpose of this investigation was to examine renewal of human avoidance and assess whether avoidance may aid in sustaining renewal of fear responses. We adopted a multimodal measurement approach consisting of an approach-avoidance task along with ratings of perceived threat and fear and measures of skin-conductance, a widely used physiological measure of fear. A traditional, single-subject research design was used with six healthy adults. All tasks employed a discrete trial procedure. Experimental conditions included Pavlovian fear conditioning in which increased probability of money loss was paired with a “threat” meter in Context A and later followed extinction in Context B. Fear and avoidance increased to higher threat levels in Context A but not Context B. Renewal testing involved presenting the threat meter on a return to Context A to determine if it evoked fear and avoidance (i.e., relapse). As predicted, renewal testing in Context A showed that increased threat was associated with increased avoidance, ratings of perceived threat and fear, and higher skin-conductance. Moreover, results showed that renewal maintained over six blocks of trials. This is the first investigation of renewal of threat and avoidance in humans that highlights avoidance as a mechanism that may contribute to maintaining fear in anxiety pathology.
Research has shown that parents of children with autism report higher stress than parents of children with other developmental disabilities. It has been suggested that parent training programs, specifically naturalistic social-communication training, can reduce parental stress and enhance the quality of the parent-child relationship. Although the development of a multilevel assessment has been suggested, much of the research in this area has relied on measures of parent implementation fidelity and specific child target skills such as vocal communication, eye contact, and joint attention. Few have directly measured the parent-child interaction. The purpose of the current study is to examine the effects of an in-home parent training package for toddlers with autism on parent-child social interactions. Within this package, parents are taught to attend to contextual variables, to arrange the environment to set the occasion for child responding, to respond immediately to targeted child approximations, and to respond in ways that are mutually reinforcing, social, and fun. Data were collected during 5-min video-taped assessments, on the number of parent teaching episodes, child target skills (turn taking and social attending), engagement, and synchronous engagement. Results were evaluated in a multiple baseline design across two parent-child dyads and indicated increases in all measures. This study contributes to the current discussion on toddler parent-training programs and extends it in a way that highlights the benefits of using a multi-level assessment to measure the parent-child interaction.
This study compared the relative reinforcing efficacy of high-preferred and low-preferred stimuli, as determined by two types of preference assessments, on acquisition rates in three children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study also evaluated the indirect effects of preference on students’ stereotypy and problem behavior during instructional periods. Participants were presented with a task and provided high or low-preferred stimuli contingent upon correct responding. Results showed that acquisition occurred more rapidly in the highly preferred condition for some participants. Higher rates of problem behavior occurred in the low preferred condition for all participants. These results highlight the importance of utilizing preference assessment procedures to identify and deliver high-preferred items in skill acquisition procedures for individuals with ASD.
Matrix training techniques arrange instruction for stimulus relations that facilitate emergent responding to novel stimulus arrangements, which is a phenomenon known as recombinative generalization. The current study compared two common matrix training approaches, an overlapping (OV) design and a non-overlapping (NOV) design, with respect to arranging relations targeted for training. Two, typically-developing toddlers were taught compound action-object labels in either an OV or NOV matrix training design. Results suggest that an OV matrix design facilitates recombinative generalization more effectively than a NOV design.
Food selectivity exhibited by children with autism creates a myriad of barriers for families and children, ranging from social to nutritional. The typical approach to food selectivity is pathological. The pathological approach attempts to eliminate food selectivity through the use of techniques such as escape extinction. While successful in decreasing aspects of food challenges, such as food refusals, the pathological approach does not necessarily establish desired responses to foods or mealtimes (e.g., favorable affect, approach, generalized sampling, etc.). The purpose of the current study was to explore an alternative, constructional approach to food challenges presented by two children diagnosed with autism. This approach focuses on the development of favorable responses to food through the use of shaping. Furthermore, the shaping process involved a conceptual and procedural widening of the stimulus and response classes selected. The results of a non-concurrent multiple baseline experiment, suggest this approach was successful in expanding the number of food the children tasted and ate while maintaining favorable or neutral affect and child assent.
Training and empirically evaluating caregivers’ implementation of behavior management skills is a particularly challenging task in large residential contexts. A pyramidal training approach provides an efficient and effective way to conduct large-scale competency-based behavior skills training. The purpose of this project was to develop and evaluate a large-scale pyramidal staff training program for behavior management skills. One hundred nine caregivers and 11 behavior service professionals at a large, residential care facility participated in this project. Interobserver agreement was utilized to develop and refine measurements systems to detect caregiver acquisition of skills, behavior service professionals’ ability to score caregiver performance and behavior service professionals’ ability to deliver a specified portion of the curriculum. Pre- and post-test probes were conducted utilizing standard role play scenarios and checklists to evaluate caregiver acquisition of three specific behavior management skills. The results supported the following conclusions: first, interobserver agreement measures were useful to develop a reliable measurement system, to refine some curriculum elements, and to evaluate measurement conducted by behavior service professionals. Second, behavior skills training (BST) resulted in caregiver acquisition of all three behavior management techniques. Third, the pyramidal training approach was effective to teach behavior service professionals to deliver BST and accurately measure the performances of trainees.
This study evaluated the effects of error correction procedures on sight word acquisition. Participants were four typically developing children in kindergarten and first grade. We used an adapted alternating treatment design embedded within a multiple baseline design to evaluate instructional efficacy of two error correction procedures; one with preferred items plus error correction and one with error correction only, and a concurrent chain schedule to evaluate participant preference for instructional procedure. The results show that there was no difference in acquisition rates between the procedures. The evaluation also showed children prefer procedures that include a positive reinforcement component.
Alcohol use disorders are a public health issue related to adverse effects for individuals and society. A low level of response, or decreased sensitivity, to alcohol has been identified as a heritable risk factor for development of alcohol use disorders. One method for researching level of response to alcohol is through the use of rodent models, which are developed to mimic human conditions while eliminating barriers to conducting research with people. Current rodent models used to evaluate effects of ethanol on motor performance have been criticized for not being well matched to human tasks that measure level of change in body sway after alcohol consumption. This study looks at oromotor behavior as a potential alternative to gross motor performance in hopes of increasing correspondence between human and rodent measures of intoxication. To evaluate rodent oromotor performance a force transducer lickometer is used to measure several dimensions of licking behavior after administration of different concentrations of ethanol solution via gavage. Results show that force of licking is not sensitive to dose of ethanol. The total number of licks per session show dose related decreases and licking rhythm, evaluated by the length and distribution of interlick intervals, either increased or decreased for three of the four subjects. Recommendations are made for procedural modifications in order to reduce variability in data and further investigate oromotor performance and level of response to alcohol.
Stimulus preference assessments have determined high and low preferred items that increase the rate of frequency of responding for various skills. Within applied settings, high preferred items may not attain the same reinforcing value across tasks which might decrease responding. The preference of the task might have an effect on reinforcer efficacy that is being presented. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate changes in reinforcer efficacy as a function of preference for the task. Three children diagnosed with ASD participated in the study. HP/LP items and HP/LP tasks were identified through paired-choice assessments, and each item was presented as a consequence for each task in a counterbalanced multi-element format. Results indicated that preference for the task had little effect of the rate of responding across items.
Rapport has been acknowledged as an important variable in therapeutic contexts. The current evaluation defined and assessed rapport quality between children with autism and behavioral therapists based on behavioral correlates. In addition, the author evaluated the effects of an operant discrimination training procedure to enhance rapport levels for therapists with low levels of rapport. More specifically, the current study evaluated: (a) if the discrimination training procedure would establish therapists’ social interactions as a discriminative stimulus and (b) if social interaction would function as a conditioned reinforcer for novel responses. Results suggest that the discrimination training procedure was successful in conditioning social interaction as a reinforcer for all child participants, and as a result, rapport increased.
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