Evaluation of resistance to change under different disrupter conditions in children with autism and severe intellectual disability

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Autistic Disorder; Child; Female; Food; Humans; Male; Mental Retardation; Neuropsychological Tests; *Reinforcement (Psychology); Reinforcement Schedule; Severity of Illness Index; Stress, Psychological; Time Factors; Translational Research; Young Adult


Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry and Psychology


Translational research inspired by behavioral momentum theory in the area of developmental disabilities has shown effects in individuals over a range of functioning levels. In the current study, behavioral momentum was assessed in 6 children diagnosed with autism and severe intellectual disability. In a repeated measures design, participants were exposed to relatively rich versus lean reinforcement contingencies in a multiple schedule with food reinforcers. This was followed by exposure to each of four disrupting conditions: prefeeding, presentation of a concurrent alternative stimulus, presentation of a movie, and the presence of a researcher dispensing response-independent reinforcers on a variable-time schedule. Consistently greater resistance to disruption in the component with the richer schedule occurred with the alternative stimulus disrupter but not with the other disrupters. These results suggest parameters that may be more (or less) effective if behavioral momentum inspired techniques are to be exploited in therapeutic environments.

DOI of Published Version



J Exp Anal Behav. 2010 May;93(3):369-83. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID