Effects of differential reinforcement of short latencies on response latency, task completion, and accuracy of an adolescent with autism


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are faced with many challenging behaviors that could impede their learning. One commonly reported problem behavior is noncompliance, which is often defined as a delay in response (latency), decrease in rate of responding (fluency), or failure to complete a task. This failure to comply in an appropriate amount of time has been noted as a primary factor for a child's exclusion from the community, poor social interactions, as well as limited instructional opportunities. This study examined the response latency, task completion, and accuracy in responding of an adolescent with ASD utilizing a changing criterion design. Reinforcement was provided only when the student answered a question or complied with an instruction accurately and within the preset criterion which was successively and gradually reduced. Results indicated that response latency decreased from an average of 4.6 seconds down to an average of 2.4 seconds and that there was a significant decrease in no responses. Findings show that differential reinforcement of short latencies resulted in a decrease in response latency and an increase in compliance. Thus, the study yielded positive results and paved the way for future research. © Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Publication Title

Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities

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