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Am J Ment Retard. 2007 Jul;112(4):246-60.

Discovering indices of contingency awareness in adults with multiple profound disabilities.

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  • 1Life Span Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


We conducted two studies to examine parameters of social attention in contingency awareness training using switch activation with individuals who had multiple profound disabilities. In Study 1 we compared leisure devices and social attention as reinforcing stimuli with 5 individuals. Results indicated the reinforcing qualities of social attention over leisure devices with 2 individuals and documented the importance of session length in training. In Study 2 we investigated idiosyncratic behaviors as indicators of responsiveness with 3 of the 5 original participants as they activated switches. Behavior changes during switch activation versus nonactivation times in the leisure device and social attention conditions suggested volitional movement supporting contingency awareness and preference. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

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