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Using a Percentile Schedule to Establish Tolerance for Delay to Reinforcement in Young Children with Autism
AuthorLewon, Ainsley B
AdvisorGhezzi, Patrick M.
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The ability to tolerate delays to reinforcement is a necessary component of many important childhood behaviors such as sharing, turn taking, perspective taking, and task persistence. Naturalistic observations and laboratory preparations suggest that most young children tend to prefer reinforcers that are immediately available and tend to engage in problematic behavior when asked to wait for them. This tendency is magnified in children diagnosed with ASD. Despite the importance in teaching young children to wait, little research has been conducted to determine the conditions under which appropriate waiting behavior is established and maintained. As such, a study was developed to examine the use of a percentile schedule to fade the delay to reinforcement in young children with autism. The effects of using social praise and corrective feedback concurrently with a percentile schedule were also examined in subsequent phases. Additionally, generalization probes, conducted with play and leisure activities, and 14-day follow-up maintenance probes, with both edible and play/leisure items, were conducted. Results indicate that none of the participants learned to wait in any experimental phase. Clinical implications, possible explanations, limitations of the experimental preparation, and areas for future research will be discussed.