NONCONTINGENT PRESENTATION OF ATTENTION AND ALTERNATIVE STIMULI IN THE TREATMENT OF ATTENTION-MAINTAINED DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

Authors


Neurobehavioral Unit, The Kennedy Krieger Institute, 707 N. Broadway, Baltimore, Maryland 21205

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that destructive behavior may be reduced through noncontingent presentation of attention when attention is identified as the stimulus responsible for behavioral maintenance. Because it may not always be possible to deliver attention in all situations, we examined the extent to which alternative stimuli that have been identified through a choice assessment would substitute for attention (the functional analysis—based reinforcer) in a noncontingent reinforcement procedure. Prior to treatment, functional analyses demonstrated that the destructive behavior of 2 clients with mental retardation was maintained by adult attention. Next, a stimulus choice assessment identified highly preferred tangible items for the 2 clients. Finally, we compared the effectiveness of two noncontingent reinforcement procedures: continuous noncontingent access to attention and continuous noncontingent access to the tangible item identified in the choice assessment. For both clients, these noncontingent reinforcement procedures reduced destructive behavior. The results are discussed in terms of the clinical implications for the treatment of destructive behavior using functional and alternative stimuli.

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