The treatment of a 9-year-old autistic boy who manifested a low rate of social interaction with his parents and older sister is described. Previous attempts to persuade the parents to devote more time to interacting with the child had failed. The parents then were instructed to give the child training in handwriting. A dramatic improvement in the S's ability to reproduce the alphabet was observed. More importantly, a great increase in the rate of interaction between the child and the members of his family was documented. The percent of 10-second intervals in which the S spoke to his family or they spoke to him jumped from 19% during baseline to 89% during the intervention phase. Post-intervention rates of interaction continued to be higher than during baseline.
When the consequences of a response become less reinforcing in the presence of one stimulus, reinforced responding in the presence of a second stimulus often increases. This phenomenon is called positive behavioral contrast. This research evaluated the effects of an analogous manipulation in an applied setting within the context of a classroom token economy. Seven severely to profoundly hearing impaired middle school students who were disruptive and low-achieving in math class served as subjects. After a pretoken economy baseline, token reinforcement was instituted at three learning stations. Reinforcement was then withdrawn from two of the three stations but continued at the remaining one. The results indicated that academic response rate increased at the station where reinforcement was continued while it decreased at the two stations where it was withdrawn. These effects were reversed when reinforcement was reinstated at all three stations. The reciprocal relationship between increases in academic performance and decreases in measures of classroom disruption previously reported in the literature was also replicated.
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