Academic journal article The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis

Using DRO, Behavioral Momentum, and Self-Regulation to Reduce Scripting by an Adolescent with Autism

Academic journal article The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis

Using DRO, Behavioral Momentum, and Self-Regulation to Reduce Scripting by an Adolescent with Autism

Article excerpt

Review of the Literature

Self -Stimulatory Behavior

Considerable impairments in both social and communicative behavior affect most individuals with autism (Rutter & Schopler, 1978). For example, research indicates that during vocal exchanges and in social settings, these individuals often produce forms of verbal behavior that significantly differ from the speech produced by individuals without autism (Fine, Bartolucci, & Szatmari, 1994). This verbal behavior is often categorized as self-stimulatory or stereotyped behavior, and it consists of recurring physical movements or vocalizations that serve no obvious function in the external environment (Harris & Wolchik, 1979). When high rates of delayed echolalia (Fine et al.), also known as scripting, occur in conjunction with low rates of appropriate conversational skills, the social relational opportunities for persons with autism may be greatly reduced (Ross, 2002). Additionally, self-stimulation may interfere with learning or performance (Koegel and Covert, 1972).

Since self-stimulation can be potentially harmful to the student as a learner and to the individual as a peer, a number of studies have investigated procedures that could decrease this behavior. Laws, Brown, Epstein, and Hocking (1971) decreased self-stimulatory behavior by directing a teacher to remove attention when his students self-stimulated and to reinforce suitable behavior when they attended. Azrin, Kaplan, and Foxx (1973) reduced self-stimulation in nine individuals with mental retardation by instructing them on the suitable use of vocational and recreational materials. The present study adds to this literature by demonstrating a decrease in the production of self-stimulatory behavior of vocal scripting by an adolescent male with autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder through the use of differential reinforcement, self-regulation and behavioral momentum.

Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO)

All forms of differential reinforcement entail "reinforcing one response class and withholding reinforcement for another response class" (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007, p. 470). One of the most frequently used types of differential reinforcement is the differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) (Wolery, Bailey, & Sugai, 1988). DRO schedules reverse a contingency by delivering reinforcers based on the absence of a target behavior (Baer, Peterson, & Sherman, 1967). This type of reinforcement delivery is sometimes referred to as omission training since delivery of the reinforcer is contingent upon the omission of the target behavior (Weiher & Harman, 1975).

DRO is a useful behavior-reduction procedure for several reasons. First, it highlights the use of positive reinforcement while avoiding the use of aversive stimuli. As a result, many adverse side effects may be avoided. Secondly, target behaviors tend to reduce rather quickly under conditions of DRO, especially if a specific replacement behavior is reinforced (Wolery, Bailey & Sugai, 1998). Lastly, DRO has been shown to be useful in decreasing or eliminating a variety of behavioral excesses, physical aggression and tantrums (Allen, Gottselig, & Boylan, 1982).

Behavioral Momentum

Generally speaking behavioral momentum involves the use of a series of high-probability requests to increase compliance with lower-probability, instructor-issued requests. Over time, in order to increase generalization and maintenance, fading procedures are implemented such that the interval of time between high probability requests to low probability requests is increased and the ratio of high probability requests to low probability requests is decreased (Ray, Skinner & Watson, 1999).

Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of behavioral momentum for increasing compliance with low-probability requests across commands, demands, or requests (Ray, Skinner & Watson, 1999). …

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