ABCs Of Preference Assessments

ABCs of Preference Assessments

A preference assessment is a structured method to identify highly preferred items or actions that can be used as reinforcers to keep motivation levels high when teaching individuals with autism or other special needs.

How do we know what’s going to work to reinforce the learner? Remember, an item only serves as a reinforcer if it increases the likelihood that a behavior will occur again in the future.

So how do we figure it out?

We can guess…

Although watching the learner and figuring out what their preferences are is the first step in conducting a preference assessment, guessing isn’t exactly scientific, and therefore, doesn’t qualify as true ABA.

So what do we do?

We can conduct a preference assessment.

image 15311509905307 3 ABCs of Preference Assessments

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There are three types of preference assessments:

1.    Single item presentation: provide items one at a time to the learner, record the learner’s behavioral response and the duration of the engagement.

2.    Reinforcer sample: multiple items are provided at once. Data is collected on which items are chosen and for how long.

3.    Forced choice presentation: two items are randomly presented to the student in a systematic order. Data is recorded on the acceptance and engagement with the item.

You can learn more about preference assessment by going here.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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