Embedding an identity-matching task within a prompting hierarchy to facilitate acquisition of conditional discriminations in children with Autism

Wayne W. Fisher, Tiffany Kodak, James W. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Least-to-most prompting hierarchies (e.g., progressing from verbal to modeled to physical prompts until the target response occurs) may be ineffective when the prompts do not cue the individual to attend to the relevant stimulus dimensions. In such cases, emission of the target response persistently requires one or more of the higher level prompts, a condition called prompt dependence (Clark & Green, 2004). Reinforcement of differential observing responses (DORs) has sometimes been used to ensure that participants attend to the relevant stimulus dimensions in matching-to-sample (MTS) tasks (e.g., Dube & McIlvane, 1999). For 2 participants with autism, we embedded an identity-matching task within a prompting hierarchy as a DOR to increase the likelihood that the participants attended to and discriminated the relevant features of the comparison stimuli in an MTS task. This procedure was compared with a traditional least-to-most prompting hierarchy and a no-reinforcement control condition in a multielement design. Results for both participants indicated that mastery-level acquisition of spoken-word-to-picture relations occurred only under the identity-matching condition. Findings are discussed relative to the use of DORs to facilitate acquisition of conditional discriminations in persons with autism or other conditions who do not attend to the comparison stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-499
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007



  • Autism
  • Conditional discriminations
  • Differential observing response
  • Identity matching
  • Prompts
  • Stimulus control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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