Increasing across-session variability of leisure activity selection for children with autism.

Repetitive or stereotyped patterns of responding are a defining characteristic of autism. These repetitive patterns of responding often extend to leisure or free time during which an individual may engage in a limited range of activities, resulting in missed opportunities to contact other potential reinforcers. Lag schedules of reinforcement have been shown to be effective in promoting varied response patterns within-session. Applying a Lag schedule as a second-order schedule may produce varied responding across-session. A multiple baseline across participants design was used to examine the effects of a second-order lag schedule and visual discriminative stimuli on the leisure activity selection of three elementary school students diagnosed with autism. During the intervention condition, reinforcers were delivered when participants selected leisure activities that differed from previous sessions, which were associated with visual stimuli. The intervention increased variable responding across sessions and stable responding within sessions, thereby allowing the participants to sample the natural reinforcers associated with more sustained engagement with a wider range of leisure activities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)