A Structured Intervention to Increase Response Allocation to Instructional Settings for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Access to early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder is commonly recommended. Intervention programs may include high rates of instructional trials, which may evoke escape-maintained problem behavior. Recent research on “pairing” or “rapport-building” interventions have sought to reduce the likelihood that problem behavior occurs during instruction using antecedent manipulations. The current study evaluated a structured intervention that included differential reinforcement and demand fading to increase participants’ response allocation to instructional settings without the use of physical guidance. Nine minimally verbal girls under the age of 6 years with autism spectrum disorder enrolled in the study. The protocol was effective for seven of the nine participants. One participant did not complete the protocol due to competing behavior and an additional participant did not require the intervention. Our findings suggest that the structured intervention was effective in increasing appropriate behavioral repertoires that are necessary for children with autism spectrum disorder to effectively benefit from early educational programs.