The effect of choice on motivation for young children on the autism spectrum during discrete trial teaching

Ceri Elliott, Karola Dillenburger

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Self-determination and decision-making are acknowledged internationally as key rights of persons with disabilities and should play an important role in the development of educational plans and procedures. Not only is the chance for individuals with developmental disabilities to select their own tasks, leisure activities or reinforcers a valuable way of enhancing rights-based education and personal dignity, but choice-making opportunities may also function as a useful clinical or educational tool if they actually improve the efficacy of programmes aimed at the acquisition of socially relevant behaviours and life skills or the reduction of challenging behaviours.

The study reported here assessed whether or not choice affected effectiveness of an educational procedure for three children on the autism spectrum. Following a preference assessment, a number of discrete teaching trials were conducted with each child and, contingent upon targeted responses, either the child or the therapist selected one of three preferred reinforcer items. Reinforcer choice did not affect intervention effectiveness for two of the children; however, performance and motivation improved for the third child. Results re-affirmed the importance of thorough preference assessments prior to intervention and showed that additional stimulus choice contingent on the target response may improve motivation and outcomes for some children.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in Special Educational Needs
Early online date25 Jun 2014
Publication statusEarly online date - 25 Jun 2014


  • autism
  • choice
  • DTT


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