The Use of Economic Manipulations to Influence Choice in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Robert H. LaRue, Christopher J. Manente, Lauren Pepa, Erica Dashow, James C. Maraventano, Kimberly N. Sloman, Kate E. Fiske, Lara Delmolino, Jenna Budge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As educators who provide support to individuals with ASD, our primary goal should be to teach the skills necessary to live as independently as possible. As critically important as these skills are, teaching independent living skills can sometimes be challenging when motivation is low. These issues become even more complicated as individuals get older, and practical and ethical issues may preclude the use of physical prompting. The purpose of the current investigation was to use economic manipulations to encourage three adolescents and adults with ASD and intellectual disabilities to complete nonpreferred activities without using physical prompting and/or escape extinction. Specifically, we adapted the basic concepts of behavioral economics (altering the “pay rate” for certain tasks and the “cost” of certain reinforcers) to influence choices made when offered several work tasks and rewards. With the implementation of economic manipulations, the three participants started to voluntarily complete nonpreferred tasks in the absence of staff prompting. In addition, one of the participants selected alternative rewards following the manipulations. The results are important as they represent a way to incorporate choice into programming while limiting the need for intrusive prompting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Behavioral Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Autism
  • Behavioral economics
  • Choice


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