Conducting Preference Assessments and Reinforcer Testing for Individuals With Profound Multiple Disabilities: Issues and Procedures

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The purpose of this article is to review the current research on preference assessment and reinforcer testing for individuals with profound multiple disabilities (PMD). It briefly reviews the literature that describes a subpopulation of individuals with PMD distinct from the general population of individuals labeled as having profound disabilities. The article describes the types of preference assessment procedures that have been used with individuals with PMD. Results from 13 published studies, which assessed preferences and tested reinforcers with individuals with PMD, suggest that preference procedures currently used with individuals at the higher levels of profound disabilities and individuals with severe disabilities are not always successful in identifying preferred stimuli that function as consistent reinforcers for individuals with PMD. Based on this review and other studies over a 3-year period, this article provides a rationale for conducting preference assessments to assist in curriculum development and describes a process for conducting preference assessments and targeting social, affective, and motor behaviors to increase with individuals with PMD.