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Further research

Dissertations and essays in the field of autism and ABA

Every year we fund up to 6 of our staff to undertake Masters in ABA. We are committed to ABA and believe that investing in our staff and the research that is required is vital in demonstrating how the principles of ABA can form a fundamental part in building life skills for children and young adults with autism. On this page you can read the dissertations and essays from some of these studies.

Antecedent and reinforcement-based approaches to decreasing feeding selectivity in children with autism

Author: Sarah Larner

Presented for MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis, September 2016, Bangor University

Food selectivity affects a high proportion of children with autism, and a range of behavioural interventions have shown success in its treatment. Escape extinction, such that escape from food is prevented, is a common component, nevertheless there are negative side-effects to this. Antecedent and reinforcement-based interventions may therefore be preferable, and
following conflicting results with previous comparisons, this study initially set out to conclude whether simultaneous or sequential reinforcement is superior in increasing eating of non-preferred foods. An alternating treatments design was used for comparison with 3 children with autism, and found simultaneous reinforcement with compatible foods to be advantageous for 1 participant, however neither technique effective for 2 participants. For the successful participant, systematic fading procedures were applied using a changing criterion design to reduce the ratio of preferred to non-preferred food, and whilst experiencing time constraints, some success was made with this. For the other 2 participants, a graduated exposure hierarchy procedure was implemented in a changing criterion design. This hierarchy was found to increase participants’ interactions with the non-preferred foods, nevertheless there was insufficient time to complete the hierarchy. Limitations to the study and reasons for the inconsistent results are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

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Reducing self-injurious behaviour using non-contingent sensory reinforcement

Author: Rebecca Lowes

Submitted as part of the MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis, in the School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, September 2019

Self-injurious behaviour (SIB) in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a common occurrence. The behaviour can have a detrimental effect on the individual’s quality of life and lead to lasting physical damages. The purpose of this research was to establish whether SIB could be reduced by using non-contingent sensory reinforcement. In previous literature, SIB has been successfully reduced using reinforcement procedures however research is lacking in use of sensory reinforcement to do this. This study focused on one individual with ASD to see whether the SIB of finger biting could be reduced using a chew necklace. Both descriptive and indirect functional assessment methods were used in order to assess the function of the behaviour. The intervention consisted of a chew necklace that was provided on a non-contingent basis throughout the day. The use of the chew necklace was successful in reducing finger biting behaviour, although further interventions are suggested in order to reduce the behaviour to zero levels. The findings are discussed and implications for future research are suggested.

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