Establishing Attention as a Reinforcer for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Principal Investigator: Louis Hagopian

Previous research has shown that some individuals with autism spectrum disorder have an atypical reaction to social attention (e.g., praise) delivered by others. In some cases these individuals do not find praise to be a reward or may find attention aversive occasioning problem behavior. Some research has indicated that a contingent pairing procedure (consistently providing edible items and praise together) may be effective at establishing attention as a potent reward. However, this procedure is effective in less than 50% of individuals and the effects of the pairing may only be temporary (i.e., attention loses its value after repeated deliveries without the edible). The purpose of this research is to investigate several procedures that may boost the effectiveness of the contingent pairing procedure.