Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

An Evaluation of a Treatment Package Consisting of Discrimination Training and Differential Reinforcement with Response Cost and a Social Story on Vocal Stereotypy for a Preschooler with Autism in a Preschool Classroom

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

An Evaluation of a Treatment Package Consisting of Discrimination Training and Differential Reinforcement with Response Cost and a Social Story on Vocal Stereotypy for a Preschooler with Autism in a Preschool Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the use of a treatment package comprised of a social story, discrimination training, and differential reinforcement with response cost on the vocal stereotypy of one preschooler diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The study took place in a preschool classroom of a public school and was implemented by the classroom teacher and staff. A changing criterion design was employed to evaluate experimental control. The results of this study demonstrated a clear decrease in vocal stereotypy as compared to baseline.

KEYWORDS: Vocal Stereotypy, Response Cost, Differential Reinforcement, Changing-Criterion Design

A defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) involves repetitive vocalizations or body movements, otherwise defined as stereotyped behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Rapp and Vollmer (2005) conducted a review of the literature and concluded that the majority of stereotypic behaviors are maintained by automatic reinforcement. Skinner defined verbal behaviors as "behavior reinforced through the mediation of other persons" (1957, p.2). Though repetitive vocal responses may topographically appear to be verbal, if the consequences maintaining such responses are not mediated by a listener, they then could instead be defined as vocal stereotypy maintained by automatic reinforcement. Vaughn and Michael (1982) defined automatic reinforcement as a contingency not mediated by a listener. Therefore, vocal stereotypy may be maintained amount of time, remaining tokens can be exchanged for a backup reinforcer (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). For example, Kostinas and colleagues (2001) employed a response cost procedure with a token system in which the participant was given 15 tokens at the start of each day. Contingent upon the occurrence of a perseverative verbalization, a token was removed. By the end of the day, if at least one token remained on the board, a preferred snack was delivered. Results demonstrated a decrease in perseverative vocalizations for the one participant (Kostinaset al., 2001). In a similar study, Truchlicka and colleagues (1998) decreased errors during spelling exams and increased accuracy in spelling performance in three participants following implementation of a token-based response cost system. Furthermore, the authors concluded that the token economy with the response cost component was en effective intervention for use in educational settings, such as a middle school.

Social stories have also been used in conjunction with response cost and token board systems (Kuttler, Myles, & Carlson, 1998). Social stories describe a situation and the contingencies related to desired responses for that situation. The contingencies are described in a manner by which they are easily understood by the person for whom the social story was written (Grate & Garand, 1993). Social stories were demonstrated to increase the effects of contingencies related to token economies (Kuttler et al., 1998). Additionally, social stories are often recommended not as a behavior change agent, but instead to help facilitate a better social understanding of the contingencies related to improvements in behavior and functioning in social situations (Kokina & Kern, 2010). The American Psychiatric Association (2000) has suggested that social stories may address the need for predictability for children with autism in social situations and that visually cued instruction that may be more discernable than verbal instructions (Quill, 1997). This may be additionally important in situations such as public school settings, where students may not have constant support and are required to share their teachers. In a meta-analysis conducted by Kokina and Kern (2010) on the use of social stories, the authors found that 21% of the participants in studies that employed social stories included preschoolers, while 60% of the participants were elementary aged. …

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