, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 149-161

Stereotypic behavior as a reinforcer: Effects and side effects

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Abstract

This study assessed the effects and side effects of using stereotypic behavior as a consequence for correct responding with two autistic children. The children were cued through a model to engage in stereotypic behavior contingent upon correct responses in tasktraining sessions. This instructional arrangement produced increases in the percent of correct responses. Measures of the stereotypic behavior used as a reinforcer, other stereotypic behaviors, and appropriate behaviors were collected during daily 5-minute free operant settings before and after the tasktraining sessions. No replicable, systematic changes in the percent of intervals in which subjects engaged in those side effect measures were noted. Thus, a new method for delivering stereotypic behavior as a reinforcer was investigated and produced reinforcing effects; the rate of that behavior in free operant settings was not adversely affected.

The authors are grateful for the assistance provided by Jayne Miller, Roberta Kisch, Cheryl Githens, other staff members, parents, volunteers, and children of the Louisville School for Autistic Children, Louisville, Kentucky. The authors are also grateful for the administrative support provided by Donald P. Cross, Ed. D., Chairperson, Department of Special Education. University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.