Stimulus fading and response elaboration in differential reinforcement for alternative behavior

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A hallmark of applied behavior analysis is the development of function-based interventions for problem behavior. A widely recommended function-based intervention is differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA), in which reinforcement is contingent upon socially acceptable alternatives to problem behavior (e.g., teaching communication skills). Typically, DRA is introduced under rich schedules of reinforcement. Although effective for initiating behavior change, rich schedules are often impractical in the natural setting. In this study, we evaluated the extent to which a stimulus fading program could be employed to elaborate alternative behavior (mands) in two individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. For both participants, problem behavior was reduced substantially upon implementation of the DRA procedure. Further, problem behavior rates remained low and mand rates decreased to more practical levels as the DRA behavioral requirements increased during the fading program. The fading approach demonstrated in this paper may be a useful component of intervention packages for clinicians.




Schlichenmeyer, K. J., Dube, W. V., & Vargas-Irwin, M. (2015). Stimulus fading and response elaboration in differential reinforcement for alternative behavior. Behavioral Interventions, 30(1), 51–64.

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