Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 1013–1025 | Cite as

The Impact of Delays on Parents’ Perceptions of Treatments for Problem Behavior

  • Nathan A. CallEmail author
  • Andrea R. Reavis
  • Courtney E. McCracken
  • Scott E. Gillespie
  • Mindy C. Scheithauer
Original Paper


Parent engagement in behavioral interventions is critical for treatments to succeed. Parental decision-making regarding treatments can be impacted by systematic biases, such as the tendency to discount the value of delayed benefits, or “delay discounting”. This study examined the impact of delay discounting on parents’ perceptions of treatment for their children’s problem behavior. Seventeen caregivers of children with a developmental disability who displayed problem behaviors completed assessments in two conditions: a monetary reward paradigm and a paradigm related to treatment outcomes. Fifteen of 17 participants displayed patterns of choice-making suggesting discounting of delayed treatment outcomes. If corroborated in larger samples, our methods could afford clinicians a way to optimize their approach to caregivers to maximize the benefits of treatment.


Delay discounting Problem behavior Parent decision making Treatment adherence 



The authors would like to thank Ami Klin and Christine Gunther for their editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan A. Call
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrea R. Reavis
    • 1
  • Courtney E. McCracken
    • 3
  • Scott E. Gillespie
    • 3
  • Mindy C. Scheithauer
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Marcus Autism CenterChildren’s Healthcare of AtlantaAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Autism and Related Disabilities, Department of PediatricsEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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