After yesterday‘s post regarding the use of ABA to treat ADHD, readers expressed interest in learning more. So today, one intervention to address ADHD behaviors will be discussed.
Readers should not be surprised to hear that reinforcement is a recommended intervention. Reinforcement is a key topic in almost every single post on this blog. The important thing to remember is that reinforcement must be individually designed and administered in order to obtain maximum results. Individualization is not easy for teachers or parents. However, if appropriate reinforcers and correct schedules of reinforcement are utilized, great changes in behavior will be observed.
There are many types of differential reinforcement:
- differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO)
- differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI)
- differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA)
- differential reinforcement of higher rates of behavior (DRH; designed to increase desirable behaviors!)
- differential reinforcement of lower rates of behavior (DRL)
Essentially, differential reinforcement is the use of reinforcement for one behavior and not for others. Differential reinforcement requires implementors to reinforce one behavior while withholding reinforcement for another.
Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA)
In this intervention, reinforcement is provided when an alternative behavior is observed but not when inappropriate behaviors are observed. Specifically, if a child is engaging in off task and distractable behaviors, alternative behaviors would be identified. It is important to know why (e.g., to get out of work, to get teacher attention, etc). An assessment must first be conducted to know why a behavior is occurring. To read more on assessment, check here, here, and here. Once the assessment has been completed, then alternative behaviors to obtain the same reinforcers are identified.
If a child is trying to get out of work, an alternative behavior is to work faster so that play and non-work time may be accessed. If a child is trying to gain teacher attention, then the child is taught to use appropriate behaviors to get teacher attention.
The next step is to reinforce the new/alternative behavior. If the child is working quickly, she needs to be reinforced with a nice long work break or play time. If the child appropriately recruits teacher attention, the teacher needs to come over quickly to give attention.
As with any intervention, the goal is to get appropriate behavior then to thin or reduce reinforcement so that the child may function like the rest of children in the class or home. It is important to thin reinforcement at a pace that will prevent the ADHD-type behaviors from escalating.
I hope this helps readers better understand one way that ABA may be used to address ADHD.