NADD Bulletin Volume XI Number 4 Article 2

Complete listing

A Combination of Procedures in the Reduction of Aberrant Behaviors with an Adult with Autism

Greg Handel, Sokhalay Thy and Katie Carsone


The use of DRO procedures in reducing aberrant procedures is well documented. The usually method is to reinforce adaptive behaviors that will serve the same function as the aberrant behaviors that are targeted. However, it is sometimes the case that while the replacement behaviors increase in frequency, the aberrant targets are not eliminated. The present study looks at how the effectiveness of a DRO procedure reduced the frequency of aberrant behaviors by enhancing the addition of time out procedures



The participant was a 40 year old man diagnosed with mild mental retardation, autism, obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders.  At the time of the study he resided in a community group home with three other house mates. The home was staffed 24-hours per day, seven days per week at either a 2:4 or 3:4 staff to client ratio. He has had a long history of aberrant behaviors including aggression, threatening, and the destruction of property. 



The original behavioral intervention (DRO) called for the participant to earn a check mark on a daily basis in the absence of target behaviors.  After earning 28 check marks, the participant would exchange them for a recreational/leisure outing.  After seven months the procedure was modified to include a time out component. Check marks continued to be earned on a daily basis and exchanged for outings. However, following the occurrence of aggressive behavior staff would verbally prompt the participant to go to a time out area and remain in there until all aberrant behaviors have ceased for ten minutes. If the participant did not respond to the verbal prompts he was physically escorted to the time out areas.



Physical escorts were only implemented three times over an eight-month period. The majority of the time the client went to the time out area with verbal prompting alone. The data show a significant reduction in all aberrant behaviors following the implementation of the original DRO. The implementation of the time out procedures further reduced the monthly average of aberrant behaviors by an additional 31%.





MONTHTotal FrequencyMONTHTotal Frequency   

Month 121Time Out Initiated   

Month 217Month 215   

Month 32Month 224   

Month 44Month 230   

Month 55Month 245   

Month 62Month 252   

Month 72Month 261   

Month 83Month 270   

Month 98Monthly AVG2.4   

Month 105   

Month 111   

Month 123   

Monthly AVG6.1   

DRO Initiated   

Month 138   

Month 142   

Month 152   

Month 160   

Month 174   

Month 188   

Month 192   

Month 202   

Monthly AVG3.5 



The intent of the above procedures was to reduce the frequency of aberrant behaviors using the least restrictive approach. While implementing a DRO procedure produced initial positive results in reducing target behaviors it did not eliminate the behaviors. Following the implementation of time out procedures, aberrant behaviors further reduced in frequency with a promising declining trend. Since time out is currently implemented with only verbal prompts it is felt that use of time out procedures may strengthen the effects of reinforcement contingencies as a positive support in the treatment of aberrant behavior.