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Punishment Procedures

Punishment procedures, in applied behavior analysis (ABA), refers to a consequence that is applied to a behavior that has the effect of reducing the future occurrence of that behavior.

Response cost: Is a punishment procedure where something such as tokens in a token system are removed as a negative punishment.  Response cost can be described as a fine for unwanted behavior.  A ticket when you are speeding is a response cost.  You can have a “buyback” where upon improved behavior, the thing removed is given back in part or entirely.  This would be like taking defensive driving and reducing the fine of your ticket as a buy back.  The key with response cost is that something that was an earned reinforcer is removed from the subject as a punishment procedure.

Positive practice: Is a punishment that makes the person “fix the wrong” by doing the right in a practice-like fashion. This may include apologizing for a mistake when it happens.  The apologizing is the positive practice and may function as a punishment if it reduces future incidence of the behavior.

Negative Practice: When the subject engages in an inappropriate behavior, she must do that inappropriate behavior so many times that she experiences exhaustion.  For example, if person stomps on the floor because he is angry, then with negative practice, that person would stomp on the floor for 3 minutes without break.

Restitutional over-correction: requires learners to repair the damage that they have done and more.  If someone purposely drops crumbs on the floor and as a consequence they have to vacuum the whole house, this could be an over-correction procedure.

Sensory blocking (Response blocking): An antecedent intervention that reduces the access to the sensory input that the behavior provides.  For example, to decrease hair twirling, one might have the client wear gloves and pull back her hair in a ponytail to reduce access to the stimulus.

Time out procedure: Time out is a form of negative punishment.  It can be thought of “time out from reinforcement opportunity.”  The idea is to decrease the future occurrence of the behavior happening by removing the opportunity for the learner to earn a reinforcement.  The “time in” environment is the place where reinforcement can be earned.  Warning:  you would not want to use time out for escape maintained behavior.  If you did this, it could turn into a negative reinforcement because it serves the function of getting removed from the task or event trying to escape from.  Some things to watch out for with time out are: condition of the time out environment, enriching the time in environment to reduce need for punishment, permission from caregivers as this is a punishment procedure, and duration of time outs.  Additionally, ethical issues must be considered and risk and benefit analysis conducted and signed off on by all parties.

A time-out ribbon is a procedure where the learner is in the time-in environment and the presence of  a ribbon around the wrist indicates that reinforcement is available.  Taking away the ribbon creates the time-out punishment and is a negative punishment procedure.

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