Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

High-Probability Request Research: Moving beyond Compliance

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

High-Probability Request Research: Moving beyond Compliance

Article excerpt

Abstract

Practitioners are continually striving to develop and extend strategies to remediate the social and behavioral limitations of individuals with adaptive deficits. The field has been particularly influenced by a movement toward nonaversive and nonintrusive intervention strategies. One such strategy, the high-probability request sequence, fulfills this need in addition to being an effective strategy to increase compliant responding to requests. The applications of this research, however, have been mainly limited to compliance. This discussion outlines the research to date with the high-probability request sequence and proposes applications of this strategy to areas beyond compliance.

Promoting appropriate behaviors in children and adults with disabilities can be a complex task. Educators and clinicians are continually striving to develop and extend strategies to remediate the social and behavioral limitations (e.g., noncompliance, disruptive behavior, physical aggression, off-task behavior, etc.) of these individuals. For the past several years, the literature in the field of behavioral disorders has demonstrated numerous successful applications of intervention strategies to either increase appropriate responding or decrease inappropriate responding. Such strategies include time-out, contingent reinforcement, differential reinforcement, contingent praise, overcorrection, and physical guidance (see Alberto & Troutman, 1995; Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 1987 for a review of these strategies). Although the literature is replete with successful applications of all of these procedures, several limitations may reduce their effectiveness.

Often these interventions require close physical contact with an individual. For violent, aggressive, or large individuals, use of these procedures may be risky. The efficacy of reinforcing appropriate responding also has limitations if a more powerful reinforcer or richer schedule of reinforcement cannot be found to compete with the reinforcement that is maintaining the inappropriate behavior. Behavior reductive procedures also have been proven successful, but questions often arise regarding the ethics and appropriate implementation of these interventions. The most significant limitation to such contingency-management approaches is that they are reactive, rather than proactive. That is, the intervention takes place after the individual has already demonstrated the inappropriate behavior. Depending on the behavior emitted, this could be problematic, as the performance of a behavior may act as a discriminative stimulus for the continuation of that behavior (Can, Newsom, & Binkoff, 1976).

Consequently, behavioral investigations also have focused on examining antecedent interventions to alter the stimulus conditions that set the occasion for inappropriate behavior. Such strategies applied to the area of noncompliance include altering the rate of commands (Forehand & Scarboro, 1975; Plummer, Baer, & LeBlanc, 1977), altering the type of command (Elrod, 1987; Houlihan & Jones, 1990; Neef, Shafer, Egel, Cataldo, & Parrish, 1983), establishing eye contact (Hamlet, Axelrod, & Kuerschner, 1984; Hornik, 1987), and parent training to improve instructions (Kelley, Embry, & Baer, 1979). A continually developing area of research, based on the concept of a functional analysis of behavior, examines a combination of antecedent manipulations, contingency management, and contextual factors to assess functional relations between challenging behavior and specific environmental events (see Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1984; Lennox & Miltenberger, 1989; O'Neil et al., 1997 for review). Through the systematic assessment procedures employed within a functional analysis, interventionists gain a better understanding of the effects of environment on the occurrence and nonoccurrence of problem behaviors.

In line with such proactive efforts and the emphasis on positive behavioral support (Horner et al. …

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