How can social consequences be established as conditioned reinforcers in children with autism, and what can challenge the establishing?
The background for the project is several experiments performed in our lab in recent years.
The experiments have been carried out to refine and compare procedures for the establishment of conditioned reinforcers – both in rats and in children.
One of the challenges that has been uncovered is the overshadowing and blocking of stimulus control in the attempts to establish new stimuli as reinforcers.
Overshadowing and blocking can have implications in applied contexts such as in attempts to establish discriminative stimuli and/or conditioned reinforcers.
We have identified training conditions for how blocking can be avoided, and these have also been shown with the same results in children with various challenges related to social stimulation.
Further work will be to use stimuli that are even closer to typical social consequences that one usually wants to establish about conditioned reinforcers in these children; such as smiles, attention and praise.
Studies must therefore be carried out that examine possible blockages in the establishment of common social consequences.