Conditioning Peers as Reinforcers and the Effects on Mand Training with Preschool-Aged Children
Type of DegreeDissertation
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Communication and social deficits are two of the core deficits in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Skill acquisition programs simultaneously targeting communication and social deficits are common in Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) with children with ASD (Lovaas, 2003). Previous literature has taught children to mand (request) for preferred items from peers, targeting both deficits in communication and social skills. As a result of pairings of the peer with reinforcers during mand training, peers may become conditioned reinforcers. Several studies have attempted to use response-stimulus (RS) pairing and stimulus-stimulus (SS) pairing to condition neutral, social stimuli as reinforcers; however, results have been idiosyncratic. Experiment 1: Conditioning Peers as Reinforcers compared SS pairing procedures and RS pairing procedures in conditioning preschool-aged peers as reinforcers. Three of six participants had a peer successfully conditioned with RS. One participant had a peer conditioned with SS pairing, suggesting that RS pairing may be more effective than SS pairing. Experiment 2: Mand Training evaluated the effects of peers as conditioned reinforcers or peers with a history of pairings on the acquisition of manding to peers. Mand training to conditioned peers was just as effective as to novel peers for 3 of 4 participants.