Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

The Effects of a Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing Procedure on the Acquisition of Conditioned Reinforcement on Observing and Manipulating Stimuli by Young Children with Autism

Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

The Effects of a Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing Procedure on the Acquisition of Conditioned Reinforcement on Observing and Manipulating Stimuli by Young Children with Autism

Article excerpt

Abstract

In 2 multiple baseline experiments, we tested stimulus-stimulus pairing effects on acquisition of conditioned reinforcement for observing and manipulating stimuli and stereotypy/ passivity. In Experiment I we studied a 5 year-old male with autism and we collected data using continuous 5-sec whole interval recording in 5 min sessions in which the student emitted appropriate play, and partial intervals of stereotypy, or passivity. Experiment 2 tested the effects of same procedure on independent work by 2 male participants with autism. The dependent variables were: intervals in which students worked independently, percentage of correct responses, and worksheet completion. Results from both experiments showed significant increases in numbers of intervals students emitted the target behaviors and decreases in stereotypy and passivity.

Key words: stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure, conditioned reinforcement, observing responses, preference

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Conditioned reinforcers are defined as initially neutral stimuli that have acquired reinforcing characteristics through the pairing of the neutral stimuli with a previously conditioned or unconditioned reinforcer (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 1988). For many students with disabilities, pairing procedures are necessary to condition stimuli that are important for development and academic progress. Dinsmoor (1985) found that greater observing or attending to specific stimuli (the reinforcement for observing are the stimuli) resulted in an increase in stimulus control for components of those stimuli.

Sundberg, Michael, Partington, & Sundberg (1996) developed a stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure to condition vocal sounds as reinforcers for students who had a limited vocal verbal repertoire. Vocal repertoires were observed and analyzed during pre- and post-session observations across experimental conditions. One of the conditions was a stimulus-stimulus pairing condition, in which target sounds, words, or phrases was paired with a previously conditioned reinforcer. Results from the first experiment showed that all participants emitted the target sounds in the post-pairing condition. The results showed that children acquired new vocal responses without direct reinforcement, echoic training, or prompts. In the second experiment, the parameters of the pairing procedure were analyzed. Other studies (Yoon & Bennett, 2000; Miguel, Carr, & Michael, 2002) have replicated the findings by Sundberg et al. showing the effectiveness of the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure of the acquisition of vocal verbal behavior, also known as parroting. Yoon (1998) found that once parroting was acquired through the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedures, those acquired sounds can then be used to begin instruction for functional speaker behavior. After students acquired vocal sounds, as a result of the pairing procedure, mand instruction was implemented using those sounds using an echoic to mand procedure developed by Williams and Greer (1993).

Stimulus-stimulus pairing procedures have also been used to expand children's community of reinforcers by teaching them to prefer previously non-preferred stimuli (Greer, Becker, Saxe, & Mirabella, 1985; Greer, Dorow, & Hanser, 1973; Nuzzolo-Gomez, Leonard, Ortiz, Rivera, & Greer, 2002). In the studies by Greer et al. and Nuzzolo-Gomez et al. a conditioning procedure was used to teach student to select books or toys as a preferred activity. This procedure also functioned to replace stereotypy with the reinforcement effects of observing books. As a result of the conditioning procedure, the students engaged in appropriate toy play or looking at books during their free time instead of emitting stereotypy. Furthermore, results showed that the conditioning procedure was an effective tactic to teach the student to play or look at books appropriately and independently.

More recently, Tsai & Greer (see this issue of JEIBI) conducted a study to investigate the effects of the conditioning procedure on textual responding. …

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