Inappropriate Reinforcement Maintains High Levels of Stereotypic Behavior in Children with Autism
Lynn, Gena Marie
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This paper investigates the role of inappropriate reinforcement on the level of stereotypic behavior displayed by autistic children. Three factors contributing to inappropriate reinforcement are discussed: parent training, child's choice of reinforcers, and the use of natural reinforcers. The research shows that these factors independently, have been shown to significantly decrease behavior and increase on-task learning, but inappropriate usage can maintain high levels and in some cases increase stereotypic behavior. Using these three factors collaboratively, parents and teachers will see a decline in stereotypic behavior for all autistic children and in some children these behaviors may disappear. When reinforcement is used consistently and appropriately the gains seen in experimental conditions can become generalizable to nearly all settings.