Effects of Access to a Naturally Reinforcing Activity on the Acquisition of Repertoires in Autistic Learner

Daniel Carvalho de Matos, Patrícia Maria Sombreira Araújo, Flor de Maria Araújo Mendonça Silva, Wellyson da Cunha Araújo Firmo, Pollianna Galvão Soares de Matos


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to Autism Spectrum Disorder is concerned in arranging reinforcing contingencies, which favor the learning of important repertoires. In the literature, the use of preferred arbitrary reinforcers is emphasized to shape and strengthen impaired targets. This may increase the likelihood that learners will cooperate with demands. Once a child is more exposed to learning contingencies, and becomes more fluent in certain repertoires, access to arbitrary reinforcers should be made more intermittently. It is possible, this way, that engaging in a given activity be now maintained by a natural or automatic reinforcing effect, depending solely on the learner. This research had the purpose of assessing if, by allowing access to a task, which previously became motivating for a child with ASD (pairing colored blocks), other non-verbal skills could be shaped (visually pairing similar pictures; motor imitation with toys; pairing pictures to their corresponding dictated names). The study was conducted in a laboratory from a private University in Brazil. A multiple probe design, across different target repertoires, was used to ensure experimental control by the task of pairing similar colored blocks. As a result, it was demonstrated that all target repertoires were learned, suggesting that access to the previously mastered task, possibly maintained by natural reinforcement, solely established three different repertoires. When the child's parents were interviewed to give their perception on the use of pairing blocks as reinforcer, they were more satisfied than in the case that other reinforcers, such as videos and edibles, are used.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, arbitrary reinforce, natural reinforcer

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/10-22-06

Publication date: November 30th 2020

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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