Pre-Session Assessment of Preferences for Students with Profound Multiple Disabilities

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This study evaluated the effectiveness of a brief 2 min pre-session stimulus preference assessment in predicting the levels of responding of four students with profound multiple disabilities during a 5-minute experimental session immediately following the assessment. During the pre-session assessment, students were presented with four stimuli selected from a pool of stimuli identified as either preferred (2 stimuli) or neutral (2 stimuli)from a previous preference assessment. The duration of the student's target behavior (smiling or laughing) was recorded. The stimulus with the longest duration was considered "preferred" and the stimulus with the shortest duration was considered "neutral" An alternating treatments design (ATD) was then used to evaluate the prediction of student responding based on the pre-session assessment immediately prior to an experimental session. Either the preferred, neutral, or both stimuli were presented within the context of a social interaction and the duration of the student's target behavior (smiling or laughing) was recorded. Teacher behavior, time of day, position of the child, materials, and activities, were controlled. Results indicate that the 2 min pre-session assessment had predictive value, that is, there were higher levels of student responding during the condition when the preferred stimulus was wed than when the neutral stimulus was used across all four students.

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