Implementing a differential reinforcement of low rates schedule to alter vocal stereotypy and task engagement in two adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

Theoni Mantzoros, David L. Lee, Ashley R. Ajemigbitse, Laura J. Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vocal stereotypy (VS) is often observed in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which at high rates can interfere with socialization or functioning in structured settings. There are multiple effective interventions available; yet, many procedures target the complete omission of the behavior or are only assessed at short intervals, making it unclear how they will generalize in applied settings. One intervention yet to be assessed as an individual intervention for automatically reinforced VS is differential reinforcement of low rates of behavior (DRL). In the present study, a functional analysis determined that the VS of two female adolescents with ASD was maintained by automatic reinforcement. A DRL procedure was implemented which incorporated: (a) a specified interval for reinforcement; (b) the behavioral expectations; (c) the permissible instances of VS within the interval; (d) learner feedback; and (e) the reset/non-reset aspect of the schedule. As the targeted behavior decreased across sessions, the DRL interval was systematically increased in order to thin out the schedule of reinforcement. The intervention reduced VS and increased untargeted task engagement for both participants. Applied and theoretical implications of the study as well as social validity, limitations, and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-705
Number of pages17
JournalBehavioral Interventions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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