Auditory Prompting Systems to Reduce Problem Behaviour
Results of this study confirm self-operated auditory prompting systems to be a socially valid function-based intervention for use in public community settings with
students with moderate mental retardation who have attention- or escape-maintained behavior when the prompts provide functionally equivalent reinforcement. This study
expands the literature on self-operated auditory prompting systems by matching the prompts to the function of problem behavior and confirming the social validity of the
intervention by including nondisabled coworkers.
Although previous studies (Alberto et al., 1999; Davis et al., 1992) documented that self-operated auditory prompts were an effective intervention for the reduction of
problem behavior in public community settings for students with moderate mental retardation, the function of behavior was not determined prior to intervention. It was unclear if the prompts inadvertently achieved functional equivalence or if stimuli other than the prompts were responsible for the behavioral change. Results of this study suggest that self-operated prompts function as an effective behavior intervention for students with mental retardation and attention- or escape-maintained behavior by systematically introducing prompts that provide functionally
equivalent reinforcement. Attention-maintained behavior reduced to criterion only during conditions with prompts providing attention in the form of verbal praise. Escape maintained behavior reduced to criterion only during conditions with prompts providing reminders of escape in the form of a break from the task. Problem behaviors were reduced for escape-maintained behavior during the attention prompt condition, but behavior only reduced to criterion during escape prompts.
Alberto P, Frederick L, & Hughes M (2006). Self operated auditory prompting systems as a function based intervention in public settings. Journal of Positive Behavioural Interventions. 8(4)230-243.
Taber et al., (1999) provide a notable example of using auditory prompts to decrease off-task behavior for a student with autism and moderate mental retardation. Using a multiple probe across settings design, a 12-year old male student with autism was taught to use a self-operated auditory prompting system. The system contained recorded music interspersed between auditory verbal prompts (e.g., "keep working," "pay attention," etc.). The result was a decrease in inappropriate and off-task behavior at home and school with a concurrent decrease in teacher-delivered prompts.
A more recent study used auditory prompts to cue in-class self-monitoring as an intervention for decreasing off-task behavior in a classroom setting (Coyle & Cole, 2004). For three children with autism (aged between 9 and 11), an auditory timer (available from Jadco[R] was used to prompt self-monitoring of on-task behavior every 30 s of a 5 min work interval, with interval time increasing to 1 min for 1 of the participants. Using reversal designs, researchers were able to show that off-task behavior was significantly decreased during intervention phases.
Auditory prompting devices often require less manpower to result in positive change which is a critical benefit given the increasing number of children with autism served in local school settings where teacher resources may be scarce. Modern auditory prompts such as auditory pagers, portable compact disc players, and MP3 players are relatively small and unobtrusive and are used by enough children to minimize any stigma associated with carrying one for therapeutic purposes. Despite these apparent benefits, the paucity of literature focusing on technology-based auditory prompting for children with autism makes generalization of current findings difficult. Future research, as suggested by Taber et al. (1999), should continue to examine the effectiveness of self-operated auditory prompting systems with this population. Although Taber et al. (1999) & Coyle and Cole (2004) focused on decreasing off-task behavior, future investigations should also evaluate the effectiveness of auditory prompting for skill acquisition.
Goldsmith T, & Leblanc L(2004). Use of technology in intervention with children with autism. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioural Intervention.