On Saturday, May 26th, two LABBB BCBA’s presented at the Association for Behavior Analysis International, National Conference in Seattle. We were very proud to have Amanda Laprime and Cheryl Goff representing LABBB and presenting their research at this conference. please see below for a synopsis of both of their presentations.
Amanda Laprime’s Presentation:
Children with autism and other developmental disabilities often fail to acquire new skills or maintain social, communicative, or academic behaviors when praise from an adult is presented as the only reinforcer for such behaviors. Since praise alone does not typically function as a reinforcer, praise must be paired with edibles, toys, physical attention, tokens, or other objects or items that are known to function as reinforcer for our students.
Reliance on such items or objects can be limiting for teachers or parent who are looking to increase social, communicative, or academic behaviors in different environments. To have to carry around or continuously purchase tokens, edibles, or toys to reinforce much-needed adaptive behaviors, can be incredibly difficult for parents and teachers. Without having those items available, it may be difficult for students to generalize skills to environments.
The purpose of my research study was to evaluate a procedure for conditioning praise as a reinforcer in 2 students with developmental disabilities. This involved pairing a praise statement with known reinforcers (such as edibles and tickles) and then testing to see if the student would engage in responding to praise alone without the need for the backup reinforcer. For both students, we were successfully able to condition praise as a reinforcer, though over time praise lost its value and needed to be re-paired with the backup reinforcers. This is expected as the reasons we all respond to conditioned reinforcers such as praise is that it is typically paired with backup reinforcers.
We also assessed how much pairing was needed to get the most sustained effects of the pairing procedure. The study continues to be run in order for us to determine guidelines and strategies for practitioners, teachers, and parents regarding how to effectively condition praise as a reinforcer and be able to use it to strengthen new behaviors or generalize previously acquired behaviors to new setting or people.
This study was funded by Simmons College in collaboration with Dr. Judah Axe from the department of Special Education. Our symposium was presented in conjunction with doctoral students and faculty from Columbia Teachers College in Seattle, WA at the Association for Behavior Analysis International , National Convention over Memorial Day weekend. The study was well received both for its effects and the fact that it was run in a public school setting. We look forward to further evaluating best practice procedures for our students at the LABBB Collaborative.
Cheryl Goff’s Presentation:
My research was with an elementary aged student on the autism spectrum and looked at how classes of vocabulary can be formed quickly and effectively through errorless instruction. I presented this at a symposium at the ABAI conference with 2 other people who looked at similar teaching methods. ABAI is the annual international conference and not only did I get to talk with other BCBAs from the Boston region and throughout the US about our jobs, experience, etc… but I also met BCBAs from all over including Australia and Taiwan. I was also able to attend symposiums that directly related to the population of students that I work with at LABBB where I got to hear about the most
current research and technology in the field.