Research has identified treatment-responsive and treatment-resistant subtypes of automatically maintained self-injurious behavior (ASIB) based on patterns of responding in the functional analysis (FA) reflecting its sensitivity to disruption by alternative reinforcement, and the presence of self-restraint. Rooker et al. (2019) unexpectedly observed reductions in treatment-resistant self-injury while participants performed an operant task. The current study further examined this in nine participants with treatment-resistant ASIB in an example of discovery-based research. An operant task engendering high rates of responding (switch-pressing) to produce food, reduced self-injury across all participants, and eliminated self-injury for some participants under certain schedules. Although this finding must be replicated and evaluated over longer time periods, it provides some evidence that alternative reinforcement can disrupt self-injury in these treatment-resistant subtypes under some conditions. Reinforcer and response competition are discussed as possible mechanisms underlying these disruptive effects, as are the potential implications of these findings regarding treatment.
- automatically maintained self-injury
- reinforcer competition
- response competition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Applied Psychology