Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
Evaluation of interactive computerized training to teach parents to implement photographic activity schedules with children with autism spectrum disorder
Training parents of children with autism spectrum disorder can be a challenge due to limited resources, time, and money. Interactive computerized training (ICT)—a self-paced program that incorporates instructions, videos, and interactive questions—is one method professionals can use to disseminate trainings to broader populations. This study extends previous research on ICT by assessing the effect of ICT to teach three parents how to implement a photographic activity schedule using a systematic prompting procedure with their child. Following ICT, all parents increased their fidelity to implementation of an activity schedule during role-play sessions with an adult. Fidelity remained high during implementation with their child and maintained during a 2-week follow-up.
Obtaining a job as a college graduate is partly dependent on interview performance. We used a multiple baseline design across skills to evaluate the effects of behavioral skills training with self-evaluation for five college students. Training effects were evaluated using simulated interviews as baseline and posttraining assessments. All participants acquired targeted skills, but we observed some individual differences. Participants were satisfied with training outcomes and rated the procedures as acceptable. Furthermore, ratings from university staff who provide interview training indicated that training improved performance across several skills for the majority of participants.
We taught three children with visual impairments to make tactile discriminations of the braille alphabet within a matching-to-sample format. That is, we presented participants with a braille character as a sample stimulus, and they selected the matching stimulus from a three-comparison array. In order to minimize participant errors, we initially arranged braille characters into training sets in which there was a maximum difference in the number of dots comprising the target and nontarget comparison stimuli. As participants mastered these discriminations, we increased the similarity between target and nontarget comparisons (i.e., an approximation of stimulus fading). All three participants’ accuracy systematically increased following the introduction of this identity-matching procedure.
Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, and Hanratty (2014) described a functional analysis (FA) format that relied on a synthesis of multiple contingencies described by caregivers during open-ended interviews. These interview-informed synthesized contingency analyses (IISCA) provided effective baselines from which to develop socially validated treatments, but the synthesis precluded a precise understanding of individual contingencies influencing problem behavior. We conducted IISCAs and standard FAs (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994) for nine children with autism to evaluate the likelihood of differentiation given a number of synthesized versus isolated variables. The IISCA was differentiated for all. The standard FA was differentiated for four; this number increased to six when we included precursors in the standard FA. We then compared treatments based on sets of differentiated analyses for four children. Treatment based on the IISCA was effective for all four; treatments based on the standard FA were effective for two. The role of synthesis in analysis is discussed.
Persistence during and resurgence following noncontingent reinforcement implemented with and without extinction
Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is typically implemented with extinction (EXT) for destructive behavior reinforced by social consequences and without EXT for destructive behavior reinforced by sensory consequences. Behavioral momentum theory (BMT) predicts that responding will be more persistent, and treatment relapse in the form of response resurgence more likely, when NCR is implemented without EXT due to the greater overall rate of reinforcement associated with this intervention. We used an analogue arrangement to test these predictions of BMT by comparing NCR implemented with and without EXT. For two of three participants, we observed more immediate reductions in responding during NCR without EXT. However, for all participants, NCR without EXT produced greater resurgence than NCR with EXT when we discontinued all reinforcers during an EXT Only phase, although there was variability in response patterns across and within participants. Implications for treatment of destructive behavior using NCR are discussed.
Preference and reinforcer efficacy of high- and low-tech items: A comparison of item type and duration of access
This study examined the interactions of stimulus type (high- vs. low-tech) and magnitude (duration of access) on preference and reinforcer efficacy. Two preference assessments were conducted to identify highly preferred high-tech and low-tech items for each participant. A subsequent assessment examined preference for those items when provided at 30-s and 600-s durations. We then evaluated reinforcer efficacy for those same items when provided for a range of durations using progressive-ratio schedules. Results suggested item type and access duration interacted to influence preference and reinforcer efficacy. Participants preferred high-tech items at longer durations of access and engaged in more responding when the high-tech item was provided for long durations, but these patterns were reversed for the low-tech item. In addition, participants engaged in less responding when the high-tech item was provided for short durations and when the low-tech item was provided for long durations.
This study applied the generalized matching equation (GME) to pitch selection in professional baseball. The GME was fitted to the relation between pitch selection and hitter outcomes for five professional baseball pitchers during the 2014 Major League Baseball season. The GME described pitch selection well. Pitch allocation varied across different game contexts such as inning, count, and number of outs in a manner consistent with the GME. Finally, within games, bias decreased for four of the five pitchers and the sensitivity parameter increased for three of the five pitchers. The results extend the generality of the GME to multialternative natural sporting contexts, and demonstrate the influence of context on behavior in natural environments.
Deposit contracting may reduce costs and increase efficacy in contingency management interventions. We evaluated two Internet-based deposit contract arrangements for smoking. In Experiment 1, nine participants deposited self-selected amounts that could be earned back for meeting goals. During treatment, participants were reimbursed for breath samples with less than or equal to 6 parts per million carbon monoxide and met the criterion for 47% of samples compared to 1% during baseline. In Experiment 2, 10 participants’ deposits were matched up to $50. No samples met the criterion during baseline but 41.5% met it during treatment. The average deposit was $82 in Experiment 1 and $49 in Experiment 2. Participants rated the intervention favorably and sample submission rates were high. These experiments suggest that Internet-based self-tailored deposits are acceptable, feasible, and can promote brief reduction and abstinence in some smokers. Future research should investigate individual and intervention factors that affect long-term cessation and uptake of deposit contracts.
Instructive feedback embedded within group instruction for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder
The present study evaluated the effects of instructive feedback embedded within a group discrete trial teaching to teach tact relations to nine children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder using a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design. Dependent variables included correct responses for: primary targets (directly taught), secondary targets (taught via instructive feedback), primary observational targets (directly taught to other members of the group), and secondary observational targets (taught via instructive feedback provided to other members of the group). Results showed that all nine participants reached the mastery criterion for the primary targets, as well as acquired the secondary and observational targets without direct teaching. Clinical implications and areas for future research are provided.
Achieving continence of one's bowel movements is a key step in development and failure to do so leads to many negative consequences. Treatments for encopresis appearing in the literature have employed behavioral strategies; medications such as suppositories, laxatives, or enemas; and in some studies a combination of these approaches. To date, attempts to extend successful treatments for encopresis in typically developing children to those with developmental disabilities have been limited. The current study included three participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities who had a history of encopresis. None of the participants had a continent bowel movement under baseline conditions. Continent bowel movements increased during treatment that included the addition of suppositories to elicit continent bowel movements. Two participants began having independent continent bowel movements (i.e., without requiring suppositories) and medication was successfully faded out for the remaining participant. Treatment took between 13 and 21 days.
The high-probability (high-p) instructional sequence consists of the delivery of a series of high-probability instructions immediately before delivery of a low-probability or target instruction. It is commonly used to increase compliance in a variety of populations. Recent research has described variations of the high-p instructional sequence and examined the conditions under which the sequence is most effective. This manuscript reviews the most recent research on the sequence and identifies directions for future research. Recommendations for practitioners regarding the use of the high-p instructional sequence are also provided.
Frequent emesis can cause substantial deleterious effects to a child's health and environment. We conducted a functional analysis of a 3-year-old girl's self-induced emesis and confirmed that emesis was maintained by automatic reinforcement. In a reversal design, we evaluated the efficacy of implementing response blocking at 100% and 50% treatment integrity levels on both attempts and successful production of emesis. One hundred percent blocking, but not 50% blocking, was successful in reducing attempts and emesis below baseline levels.
Noncontingent reinforcement for the treatment of severe problem behavior: An analysis of 27 consecutive applications
Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is a commonly used treatment for severe problem behavior displayed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The current study sought to extend the literature by reporting outcomes achieved with 27 consecutive applications of NCR as the primary treatment for severe problem behavior. All applications of NCR were included regardless of treatment outcome to minimize selection bias favoring successful cases. Participants ranged in age from 5 to 33 years. We analyzed the results across behavioral function and with regard to the use of functional versus alternative reinforcers. NCR effectively treated problem behavior maintained by social reinforcement in 14 of 15 applications, using either the functional reinforcer or alternative reinforcers. When we implemented NCR to treat problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement, we often had to add other treatment components to produce clinically significant effects (five of nine applications). Results provide information on the effectiveness and limitations of NCR as treatment for severe problem behavior.
Teaching complex verbal operants to children with autism and establishing generalization using the peak curriculum
The present study evaluated the feasibility of the PEAK Relational Training System's Generalization Module (Dixon, 2014b) to teach and establish generalization of autoclitic mands, distorted tacts, and creative path finding in three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Using a multiple-baseline design across behaviors, each participant was provided with differential reinforcement and a least-to-most prompting hierarchy for correct responses to a subset of stimuli, and responses to other similar stimulus sets were probed for emergent generalization. Following training, each participant successfully acquired the directly trained behaviors and demonstrated generalization to the nonreinforced test exemplars. These data support the utility of Skinner's (1957) analysis to teach complex forms of verbal operants, and suggest that a manualized curriculum such as PEAK may have utility for promoting skill development and generalization for front line staff and caregivers of children with autism.
A microswitch-based program for promoting initial ambulation responses: An evaluation with two girls with multiple disabilities
We assessed the use of a microswitch-based program for promoting ambulation responses by two children with multiple disabilities. The goals of the study were to: (a) evaluate the importance of the contingency between the target behavior (forward step) and the programmed consequence (preferred stimuli), (b) measure effects of the intervention on indices of happiness, and (c) assess the social validation of the procedure using 20 physiotherapists as external raters. The intervention involved the automatic delivery of preferred stimuli contingent on forward steps. Results showed that both participants improved their performance (forward steps and indices of happiness) during contingent reinforcement phases compared to baseline and noncontingent reinforcement phases. Moreover, physiotherapists rated the intervention as socially valid.
Differential reinforcement procedures may promote unprompted correct responding, resulting in a quicker transfer of stimulus control than nondifferential reinforcement. Recent studies that have compared reinforcement arrangements have found that the most effective arrangement may differ across participants. The current study conducted an assessment of differential reinforcement arrangements (i.e., quality, schedule, and magnitude) and nondifferential reinforcement to identify the most effective arrangement for each participant. The assessment phase showed that the quality arrangement was the most efficient for all participants during auditory-visual matching. Next, a validation phase was conducted to evaluate whether the assessment would predict the most effective arrangement across multiple skills. The results from the assessment phase were validated for all participants for the same skill. However, the results were only validated for one participant during the other skills (i.e., tact and intraverbal). The results are discussed in light of previous research and future areas of research.
Evaluation of a telehealth training package to remotely train staff to conduct a preference assessment
Recent advancements in telecommunication technologies make it possible to conduct a variety of healthcare services remotely (e.g., behavioral-analytic intervention services), thereby bridging the gap between qualified providers and consumers in isolated locations. In this study, web-based telehealth technologies were used to remotely train direct-care staff to conduct a multiple-stimulus-without-replacement preference assessment. The training package included three components: (a) a multimedia presentation; (b) descriptive feedback from previously recorded baseline sessions; and (c) scripted role-play with immediate feedback. A nonconcurrent, multiple-baseline-across-participants design was used to demonstrate experimental control. Training resulted in robust and immediate improvements, and these effects maintained during 1- to 2-month follow-up observations. In addition, participants expressed high satisfaction with the web-based materials and the overall remote-training experience.
Responding to stimuli as same and different can be considered a critical component of a variety of language and academic repertoires. Whereas responding to “sameness” and generalized identity matching (i.e., coordination) have been studied extensively, there appears to be a significant gap in behavior analytic research and educational programs with regard to nonmatching relations or relations of difference. We review research on difference relations from a variety of domains, including comparative psychology, as well as experimental, and translational behavior analysis. We examine a range of studies, including research on the perception of difference and oddity responding, as well as investigations on establishing relational frames of distinction. We present suggestions for future research and describe potential methods for teaching skills related to relations of difference.