There are many things that can be done to reduce or eliminate problem or interfering behaviors. However, ethical concerns may be raised when using some of the techniques that help stop these behaviors (i.e., extinction, punishment). These concerns have led researchers to examine alternative procedures for addressing problematic behaviors in an ethical and humane manner (e.g., Kazdin, 1980; Singh & Katz, 1985). These positive reductive techniques emphasize the use of reinforcement to increase occurrence of more adaptive or desirable behaviors, and, at the same time, using extinction or elimination of triggers that help to decrease or eliminate disruptive behaviors. This technique is in place of reducing opportunities for additional reinforcement, removing already acquired reinforcers, or applying punishment in response to unwanted behavior. Four procedures that incorporate reinforcement to address and treat disruptive behaviors are differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI), differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA), differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO), and differential reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL). Each differential reinforcement procedure is a special way to apply reinforcement designed to reduce the occurrence of interfering behaviors (e.g., tantrums, aggression, self-injury, perhaps stereotypic behavior), while increasing the use of more adaptive, communicative, or acceptable behaviors, resulting in a positive and humane teaching environment to facilitate learning. Thus, the goal of differential reinforcement programs is to reinforce target behaviors that are more adaptive than the interfering behavior. This encourages the child to use of the more appropriate alternative behavior while reducing, or altogether eliminating, the disruptive or interfering behavior.
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