Teaching Mands for Competing Stimuli as a Strategy to Mitigate Satiation



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A common intervention for problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement is the noncontingent delivery of high-competition stimuli (i.e., NCR) identified in a competing stimulus assessment (CSA). For some treatment-resistant behaviors, free access to these stimuli does not yield substantial reductions in problem behavior. For these individuals, augmenting the procedures with response promotion and disruption tactics may come to establish competing stimuli. These items are then used in a subsequent treatment package based on NCR. A limitation to NCR alone is the impact satiation may have on treatment effects. The purpose of the present study was to address this limitation by teaching individuals to recruit access to new competing stimuli to mitigate satiation effects. Experiment 1 replicated the augmented competing stimulus assessment (A-CSA) for seven participants with behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. Only three participants required procedures beyond free access and at least five competing stimuli were identified for all participants. Experiment 2 evaluated the long-term efficacy of competing stimuli during NCR with four participants. They were then taught an omnibus mand for competing stimuli as a way to counteract satiation and maintain therapeutic effects. For three participants, reductions in the target behavior were sustained for at least the last nine consecutive treatment sessions, and two out of three participants acquired functional mands for competing stimuli. Experiment 3 sought to demonstrate the utility of mands at the point in which satiation previously occurred during NCR for two participants. For both participants, mands were effective in mitigating the effects of satiation and increasing the duration in which access to competing stimuli remained an effective intervention.



Automatic reinforcement, competing stimuli, noncontingent reinforcement, mands, satiation