Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

An Evaluation of Demand Functions for Attention and Food in Children with Autism

Class

Article

Department

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Faculty Mentor

Tyra Sellers

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Social deficit is one of the core symptoms of autism. The current research provides evidence for social deficits in autism, but limited work exists on addressing these deficits with better diagnostic tools and treatment. Approaches borrowed from other fields could assist the understanding of social deficits in autism. This study integrates the current research on social deficits of autism with methods from behavioral economics and investigates the reinforcing properties of social attention. We examined the use of demand functions to describe differences between behavior reinforced by food, and behavior reinforced by attention in children with autism. Several previous studies have identified systematic scalar differences in reinforcer value across different classes. This study extends these findings by examining differences in essential value, or how the behavior reinforced by food and attention changes as the price of those commodities increases. Prior to the assessment of the essential value, we identified preferred food items using paired-preference assessment. To identify preferred form of attention, we applied a modified version of paired-preference assessment. Next, the identified stimuli were delivered on fixed-ratio schedules. Response requirements on the ratio schedules were manipulated across sessions in an increasing sequence. In all participants, the results showed systematic changes in the reinforcers earned (consumption) and response-rate as a function of ratio requirement. For three of the participants, the rate of change in consumption of food and attention appeared notably different.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

An Evaluation of Demand Functions for Attention and Food in Children with Autism

Social deficit is one of the core symptoms of autism. The current research provides evidence for social deficits in autism, but limited work exists on addressing these deficits with better diagnostic tools and treatment. Approaches borrowed from other fields could assist the understanding of social deficits in autism. This study integrates the current research on social deficits of autism with methods from behavioral economics and investigates the reinforcing properties of social attention. We examined the use of demand functions to describe differences between behavior reinforced by food, and behavior reinforced by attention in children with autism. Several previous studies have identified systematic scalar differences in reinforcer value across different classes. This study extends these findings by examining differences in essential value, or how the behavior reinforced by food and attention changes as the price of those commodities increases. Prior to the assessment of the essential value, we identified preferred food items using paired-preference assessment. To identify preferred form of attention, we applied a modified version of paired-preference assessment. Next, the identified stimuli were delivered on fixed-ratio schedules. Response requirements on the ratio schedules were manipulated across sessions in an increasing sequence. In all participants, the results showed systematic changes in the reinforcers earned (consumption) and response-rate as a function of ratio requirement. For three of the participants, the rate of change in consumption of food and attention appeared notably different.