The Effects of Skill Training on Preference for Children with Severe Intellectual and Physical Disabilities

  • Anuradha S. Dutt
  • Wendy K. Berg
  • David P. Wacker
  • Joel E. Ringdahl
  • Ling-Yan Yang
  • Kelly M. Vinquist
  • Maliha Zaman


Some researchers have reported difficulties in identifying preferred items for individuals with severe intellectual and physical disabilities (SIPD), in part because these individuals often do not possess the motor skills needed to select and manipulate the items included within the assessments. The purpose of the current study was to address three research questions: a). Would differences in preference patterns occur between assessments that required an individual with SIPD to perform a motor response that was difficult for them to emit versus assessments that used an augmentative device (i.e., press a large microswitch) to activate the toy? b). Would teaching the specific skills needed to activate a toy result in an increase in toy engagement during preference assessment probes? and c) Would teaching the participant a motor response to directly activate the toy result in a shift in preference? Data were collected within a multielement (across conditions) design. The results of this study showed that (a) differences in preference patterns were observed when different motor responses were required to show preference between items, (b) acquisition of specific motor skills to activate a toy resulted in an increase in toy engagement during preference assessment probes that required direct toy manipulation, and (c) acquisition of motor skills also resulted in a shift in preference towards directly manipulating items versus activating items via microswitches.


Preference assessment Skill training Toy play skills Severe multiple disabilities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anuradha S. Dutt
    • 1
  • Wendy K. Berg
    • 2
  • David P. Wacker
    • 3
  • Joel E. Ringdahl
    • 4
  • Ling-Yan Yang
    • 5
  • Kelly M. Vinquist
    • 6
  • Maliha Zaman
    • 7
  1. 1.Nanyang Technological UniversityNational Institute of Education, Psychological Studies Academic GroupSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.University of IowaCenter for Disabilities and DevelopmentIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.University of IowaCenter for Disabilities and DevelopmentIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Southern Illinois University CarbondaleRehabilitation Institute, Rehn Hall, Behavior Analysis and TherapyCarbondaleUSA
  5. 5.University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and RehabilitationOmahaUSA
  6. 6.Plainfield Community Consolidated School DistrictPlainfieldUSA
  7. 7.Victoria Transcultural Clinical CenterFairfaxUSA

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