The Effects of Reinforcer Absence and Availability of Alternative Activity on Delay of Gratification in Children with Autism
Prechtel, Hailey Rose
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An increase in delay tolerance can help individuals obtain more preferred items, activities, and interactions. There are also many situations in a young child's daily life in which they cannot have immediate access to items, activities, or attention that they might be seeking. This can often lead to problem behavior and a longer time to wait for the desired item. Strategies that increase self-controlled responding may help individuals make choices and respond appropriately to receive a better outcome. This study examined the effects of self-control techniques such as removing an item, and interaction with an alternative activity on a child’s ability to wait for a highly preferred item for a long time (30 s) rather than accessing it sooner for a shorter amount of time (10 s). One participant showed an increase in trials waited when the reinforcer was absent, and not in sight when they had to wait.