Stimulus Transfer Control Procedures. Fade the Prompt!
“Transfer of stimulus control occurs when behavior initially evoked (controlled) by one SD comes under the control of a different SD” (Bloh, 2008)
Maybe the most requested video and explanation I get is for stimulus transfer control procedures. The technical name alone strikes fear into the hearts of aspiring RBTs and BCBAs. Then they read the definition and the fear only gets worse. But, fear no longer, ABA is not as hard as some people make it seem. Stimulus transfer control procedure in applied behavior analysis is, simply, fading prompts. We want to transfer control over a response from one SD (discriminative stimuli) to another. When you are prompting a response, that response is under control of a temporary SD. Our goal is to transfer stimulus control from the temporary SD to our chosen SD. That’s why BCBAs preach fading the prompt. We want those responses to come under the control of the SD or the naturally occurring SD. Let’s look at some examples.
Stimulus Transfer Control Examples
You are teaching a client to label a dog. Our target response is “dog” when the client sees a dog. To start, you will use a verbal prompt: “say dog.” This is the temporary SD. Every time you say “say dog” the client says “dog.” The client’s response is under the SD/prompt “say dog.” To transfer control to the a picture of a dog, or a real dog, you must evoke the client saying “dog” in the presence of an image of a dog. So, you now present a picture of a dog and ask “what is that.” You have faded the verbal prompt. When the client says “dog” in the presence of the picture, and you reinforce the response, you are transferring control. The behavior will now occur in the presence of an image of a dog.
You are teaching a client to write their name. You give them a sheet of tracing paper with their name already written. You tell them “trace your name.” They trace. Writing their name is under the control of the tracing paper. In order to transfer control of writing their name to a naturally occurring SD you must fade the tracing paper. Next time you run the program, you present only half their name pre-written. They trace half their name and write the other half independently. The response is now under control of this half-tracing method. Finally, you give them a piece of paper and say “write your name.” If they write their name the response is now under control of the SD “write your name.”
Keep It Simple When Transferring Stimulus Control in ABA
It really is that simple. You are really just fading prompts. The idea is to reinforce the behavior in the presence of the SD you want to have control over the response. If we never fade our prompts, we never transfer stimulus control. You can use this technique even if the response isn’t under the control of a prompt. Maybe your client calls all women “mom.” The tact “mom” is under the control of all women. You need to transfer the response “mom” to just the client’s mom. You would use the same method that was described above. Reinforce in the presence of mom, but no one else.
Watch my video below on Stimulus Transfer Control for further explanation:
Read about Verbal Behavior: Verbal Operants
Read about Motivating Operations and Discriminative Stimuli: MOs and SDs in ABA
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