Assessment protocol for identifying preferred social consequences



Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibit deficits in social behavior. Because social consequences may be ineffective or evoke undesirable behavior, teaching interventions for this population may rely heavily on edible or activity reinforcers. This report describes a method, appropriate for young children with ASD, for rapidly identifying social reinforcers and assessing relative preferences among social consequences. The free-operant behavior of three such children was analyzed in three Social Consequence conditions that alternated with an Extinction condition. The results identified some social consequences that functioned as reinforcers and others to which the child was relatively indifferent. The implications of this study may be particularly pertinent for teaching behavior, like joint attention skills, that is maintained by social reinforcers in the natural environment. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.