Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #342
Determining Effective Treatment: Function-based Treatment in the Context of both Positively and Negatively Reinforced Problem Behavior.
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
214B (CC)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cara L. Phillips (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: The field of Applied Behavior Analysis has emphasized function-based treatment of problem behavior for more than thirty years. Although targeting behavioral function improves the efficacy of treatment, there is still much work to be done in helping clinicians to identify which function-based treatment to use with individual clients and how to maximize the effectiveness of the treatments selected. This symposium consists of three investigations of positive- and negative-reinforcement based treatment for problem behavior. In the first study, the potential positive reinforcement effects of Response Blocking were examined in three individuals who exhibited severe problem behavior. In the second study, Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) and Noncontingent Reinforcement (NCR) were compared for the treatment of behavior maintained by social positive reinforcement. In the final study, the effects of manipulating the magnitude of a reinforcer available for problem and alternative behavior in the context of Differential Negative Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DNRA) were evaluated.
Keyword(s): DNRA, DRO, NCR, response blocking
Assessment of Response Blocking as a Positive Reinforcer in Children with Intellectual Disabilities
CARA L. PHILLIPS (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jessica Garcia (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Aila K. Dommestrup (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Meghan Deshais (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Response blocking is often used to protect individuals who engage in severe self-injury and to protect others when aggression occurs. Unfortunately, blocking behavior can sometimes result in an increase in frequency or intensity of the blocked behavior which could indicate that blocking functioned as a reinforcer, or it could be indicative of emotional responding or an extinction burst. However, it may not be possible to withhold blocking for severe or intense problem behavior in order to identify the cause of the increase in responding. Therefore, the effects of response blocking on arbitrary responses were evaluated with 3 individuals diagnosed with Intellectual Disabilities to determine whether physical blocking might serve as a reinforcer. Sessions were divided into halves. The first instance of a naturally occuring arbitrary behavior (AB1) was physically blocked during the first half of the session. During the second half, the AB1 was placed on extinction and another arbitrary behavior (AB2) was physically blocked. Reallocation of responding from AB1 to AB2 could indicate a reinforcement effect. Results for 2 of the 3 participants indicate that response blocking may differentially reinforce behavior. Implications for treatments and crisis management will be discussed.
Comparison of Differential Reinforcement for Other Behavior (DRO) and Noncontingent Reinforcement (NCR) – Which is More Effective?
AILA K. DOMMESTRUP (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Crystal Thomas (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jessica Garcia (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Only a few studies have directly compared the effects of differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) and non-contingent reinforcement (NCR) in reducing problem behavior exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g., Vollmer, Iwata, Zarcone, Smith, & Mazaleski, 1993). While both procedures target a decrease of problem behavior without an alternative behavior being introduced, DRO procedures require a greater commitment from caregivers to implement consistently and with high integrity (Fischer, Iwata, & Mazaleski, 1997). As such, the current investigation sought to compare DRO and NCR in decreasing socially maintained problem behavior with two individuals with developmental disabilities. Not only did we evaluate if each procedure worked, but we also wanted to determine if problem behavior remained low when the schedule of reinforcement was thinned and which would be more easily implementable for caregivers. Results suggested that NCR is equally as effective as DRO in decreasing and maintaining low rates of aggressive and disruptive behavior, including across an increased time schedule (98-99% reduction in rates of problem behavior). Thus, given that NCR is easier for caregivers to implement, the long-term effects of the procedure was also evaluated and included as a component of each child’s treatment plan.
Negative Reinforcer Value Manipulations Without Extinction for Treating Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior
JACQUELINE MARRA (Western New England University), Eileen M. Roscoe (Western New England University), Daniel Fredericks (Western New England University)
Abstract: Differential negative reinforcement of alternative behavior (DNRA) without extinction may be clinically useful when practical or clinical restrictions preclude the use of extinction. DNRA without extinction, when the magnitude of escape for alternative behavior and problem behavior is equal, has not resulted in successful treatment outcomes. DNRA without extinction, when discrepant escape durations for compliance and problem behavior are used, has been found successful for one participant with escape-maintained problem behavior. This finding has not been replicated. Therefore, the potential utility of using discrepant reinforcer magnitudes in the context of DNRA without extinction remains unclear. The present study sought to replicate previous research by assessing the utility of using discrepant reinforcer magnitudes for the compliance and problem behavior of children with autism in the absence of extinction. Results indicated that a large discrepancy in reinforcer magnitude resulted in shifts in response allocation from problem behavior to compliance, whereas moderate and equal discrepancies did not. These findings suggest that magnitude manipulations enhance the effects of DNRA without extinction and that the procedure may be clinically useful when extinction is not practical.



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