Persons with Multiple Disabilities Choose Among Environmental Stimuli Using a Smile Response and a Technology-Aided Program

Giulio E. Lancioni, Nirbhay Singh, Mark O'Reilly, Jeff Sigafoos, Doretta Oliva, Gloria Alberti, Serafino Buono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recent studies with three persons with multiple disabilities have indicated that smile expressions can be used as functional choice responses (i.e., occurring in relation to samples of preferred stimuli to be selected and absent in relation to samples of non-preferred stimuli to be bypassed). The purpose of this study was to extend the evaluation of the smile response with two new participants (a girl and a woman) with multiple disabilities within a technology-aided choice program. The smile response was monitored through an optic microswitch pointing to the girl's lower lip or across the area before the woman's right cheekbone. The study started with a baseline phase during which the participants were to use a vocalization response to choose among the stimuli presented to them. The intervention phase with the smile response and optic microswitch was introduced according to a non-concurrent multiple baseline design across participants. The results showed that both participants used the smile response and optic microswitch to choose the preferred stimuli and abstained from using such response (i.e., from making choices) in relation to non-preferred stimuli. Implications of the results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Choice
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Optic microswitch
  • Smile response
  • Technology-aided program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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