Presession pairing is defined as a therapist freely delivering preferred items or activities to a child and engaging with the child in a fun way before presenting academic demands (Barbera, 2007, 2009; Sundberg & Partington, 1998).
The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of presession pairing of the instructor with preferred stimuli on challenging behaviors (either escape- or attention-maintained) and accurate academic responses for children with autism during DTT sessions.
As a result of pairing with work demands, the presence of an instructor may signal a worsening set of aversive conditions (i.e., reflexive conditioned motivating operation; CMO-R). The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of presession pairing of the instructor with preferred stimuli on disruptive behavior and correct academic responding. Functional analyses indicated a primary or combined escape function for three children diagnosed with autism. For participants with multiply-maintained challenging behavior, attention was a co-occurring function. Preference assessments were completed to identify preferred items for each participant. In the presession pairing phase, the investigator engaged playfully with the participant with a highly preferred item for 2-4 minutes immediately before the instructional session. The discrete-trial-training used to teach math and spelling skills was the same across the baseline and presession pairing sessions. Results in a multiple baseline across participants design indicated that presession pairing was effective in reducing disruptive behaviors and increasing inter-response times of challenging behaviors. Results also indicated that presession pairing had no effect (either positive or negative) on the percentage of correct academic responses. Presession pairing was an effective antecedent procedure that increased opportunities for reinforcement and reduced self-injurious behavior, aggression, property destruction, and negative statements related to task demands, associated with discrete-trial-teaching sessions. When challenging behaviors occurred in presession pairing conditions, many occurred during error correction procedures. Future researchers may want to investigate the effects of errorless teaching procedures in conjunction with presession pairing. Future research should also replicate presession pairing procedures and continue investigating its mechanism by directly testing the reinforcing value of the adult paired with strong reinforcers.
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