Assessment and Treatment of Behavior Maintained by Automatic Reinforcement

Nicolette Yatros


Two subjects diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disabilities underwent a functional analysis to ensure hand-clapping was maintained by automatic reinforcement. A secondary analysis (sensory analysis) was conducted to assess the effect of different sensory-stimulating items on responding. Finally, a function-based noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) procedure using sensory stimuli was applied to reduce the target behavior, and the schedule of reinforcement was thinned. Results showed a decrease in hand-clapping when the function-based treatment was implemented, and hand-clapping remained at low levels when the schedule of reinforcement was thinned. This research further elucidates how NCR can impact behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement.