Using Competing Stimuli to Minimize Resurgence of Challenging Behavior during Fixed-lean Schedules of Reinforcement Following Functional Communication Training for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
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Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, often engage in challenging behavior that severely limits positive outcomes. Although treatment packages comprising functional communication training and multiple schedules of reinforcement have demonstrated great promise to both increase appropriate, socially acceptable communication responses for preferred items and decrease challenging behavior associated with not having access to preferred items, resurgence of challenging behavior has been reported to occur during lengthy periods when preferred items are not available (i.e., extinction). This study evaluated whether noncontingent access to an alternative item during an abrupt shift to a lengthy period of extinction would reduce the extent of challenging behavior. Two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder participated. The results of this study indicated that (a) functional communication training successfully reduced challenging behavior and increased the rate of functional communication responses (FCR) for both participants, (b) multiple schedules of reinforcement (i.e., signaled periods of reinforcement and extinction for FCRs) successfully produced discriminated FCRs, and (c) no major differences in challenging behavior were observed when alternative items were presented during the abrupt shift to a terminal period of extinction versus when alternative items were not presented. Limitations and future directions of research are discussed.