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Keywords:

  • functional analysis;
  • functional communication training;
  • differential reinforcement of alternative behavior;
  • reinforcement schedules;
  • delay to reinforcement

We evaluated four methods for increasing the practicality of functional communication training (FCT) by decreasing the frequency of reinforcement for alternative behavior. Three participants whose problem behaviors were maintained by positive reinforcement were treated successfully with FCT in which reinforcement for alternative behavior was initially delivered on fixed-ratio (FR) 1 schedules. One participant was then exposed to increasing delays to reinforcement under FR 1, a graduated fixed-interval (FI) schedule, and a graduated multiple-schedule arrangement in which signaled periods of reinforcement and extinction were alternated. Results showed that (a) increasing delays resulted in extinction of the alternative behavior, (b) the FI schedule produced undesirably high rates of the alternative behavior, and (c) the multiple schedule resulted in moderate and stable levels of the alternative behavior as the duration of the extinction component was increased. The other 2 participants were exposed to graduated mixed-schedule (unsignaled alternation between reinforcement and extinction components) and multiple-schedule (signaled alternation between reinforcement and extinction components) arrangements in which the durations of the reinforcement and extinction components were modified. Results obtained for these 2 participants indicated that the use of discriminative stimuli in the multiple schedule facilitated reinforcement schedule thinning. Upon completion of treatment, problem behavior remained low (or at zero), whereas alternative behavior was maintained as well as differentiated during a multiple-schedule arrangement consisting of a 4-min extinction period followed by a 1-min reinforcement period.