Dana Do’s: Do Alternative Behaviors Need to be Functionally Equivalent?

Do alternative behaviors always have to be functionally equivalent to the target behavior that we’re trying to reduce or eliminate? There is a common misconception that alternative behaviors always have to be functionally equivalent. But it’s just that, a misconception.

It’s wonderful when that is the case. Taking a constructionist approach means that we don’t just eliminate behaviors, we also care about the person that’s getting their needs met, so we replace those behaviors. Functionally equivalent means the same needs get met. In general, that would be a good thing. However, what if you have a behavior that successfully gets the client out of eating, sleeping academic instruction and replace those behaviors with functionally equivalent behaviors? Unfortunately, that may mean that equipping them with new, albeit more desirable behaviors that will get them out of eating, sleeping academic instruction.

Or, what if a behavior is maintained by access to something harmful? Functionally equivalent means that some other behavior will get the client access to something harmful. What if you have a client that seeks his mother’s attention whenever she’s on the phone? In that case, functionally equivalent behavior would be asking nicely instead of screaming for attention. But if the mom must take the call, even asking nicely is not going to work. We might consider another alternative skill, such as tolerating delays and gratification.

A few more scenarios. A target behavior to escape academic instruction: a good replacement option would be increasing the duration of on-task behavior that’s going to prevent the escape and build a new skill. What about a child who refuses to eat, or has a limited diet? While we don’t want to force anybody to eat something that they don’t want, we sometimes need to increase a child’s tolerance to certain foods rather than giving them a way to escape altogether. In this example, increasing tolerance to new foods is a better new skill than asking politely to get out of eating– escape prevented and new skill established.

So do alternative behaviors need to be functionally equivalent? Ideally that would be great, but is that always appropriate? No. Sometimes a socially valid alternative behavior should not, and cannot, be functionally equivalent.

  • H-4  When a target behavior is to be decreased, select an acceptable alternative behavior to be established or increased.
  • BEPW
  • Functionally equivalent
  • MiniBig G & H
  • Section H
  • Section H-4
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  • Explore the Reinforcement Procedure Most Similar to Precision TeachingExplore the Reinforcement Procedure Most Similar to Precision Teaching
    Test your understanding of behavior-change procedures and ABA educational methodologies with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews the specific differential reinforcement procedure most closely connected to Precision Teaching. Here, Dana provides a concise overview of the individualized instructional method, its focus on fluency-building, and some key aspects of the methodology. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-5: Define and provide examples of schedules of reinforcement; G-9: Use discrete-trial, free-operant, and naturalistic teaching arrangements, and G-14: Use reinforcement procedures to weaken behavior (e.g., DRA, FCT, DRO, DRL, NCR).
  • Breaking Down a Mock BCBA® Exam Question About Prompt DependenceBreaking Down a Mock BCBA® Exam Question: Prompt Dependence
    Test your Behavior-Change Procedures skills with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she breaks down a BCBA® mock exam question about how prompt dependence is defined, and a scenario that identifies prompt dependence. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section G-4: Use stimulus and response prompts and fading (e.g., errorless, most-to-least, least-to-most, prompt delay, stimulus fading).
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Identify the Difference Between Two Ways to Fade ResponseTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Identify the Difference Between Two Ways to Fade Response Prompts
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller explains with examples, the distinction between two fade response prompts. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section G-4: Use stimulus and response prompts and fading (e.g., errorless, most-to-least, least-to-most, prompt delay, stimulus fading).
  • Mock BCBA® Exam Question Breakdown: Identify a Contingency Independent InterventionBreak Down a Mock BCBA® Exam Question: Identify a Contingency Independent Intervention
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller breaks down the differences between contingency-independent and contingency-dependent interventions. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section G-2: Use interventions based on motivating operations and discriminative stimuli.
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Identify the Type of Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) in This ScenarioTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Identify the Type of Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT)
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller covers the background of DTT and breaks down the four types. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section G-9: Use discrete-trial, free-operant, and naturalistic teaching arrangements.
  • Test your ABA Terminology: DRL vs. DRDTest your ABA Terminology ➠ DRL vs. DRD
    Test your knowledge of differential reinforcement procedures as PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses the similarities and key differences between DRL and DRD procedures. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-5: Define and provide examples of schedules of reinforcement and G-14: Use reinforcement procedures to weaken behavior (e.g., DRA, FCT, DRO, DRL, NCR).
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Identify the Differential Reinforcement ProcedureTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Identify the Differential Reinforcement Procedure
    Test your behavior-change procedures skills with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews a specific differential reinforcement procedure. Here, Dana compares and contrasts all of the differential reinforcement procedures: #DRL vs. #,DRD, #DRH, #DRO, as well as #DRA vs. #DRI. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section G-14: Use reinforcement procedures to weaken behavior (e.g., DRA, FCT, DRO, DRL, NCR).
  • Programming for Generalization: Expanding Skills Beyond the Learning EnvironmentProgramming for Generalization: Expanding Skills Beyond the Learning Environment
    There are seven ways to program for generalization. PTB co-founder Dana Meller dives into "Indiscriminable Contingencies". Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-11: Define and provide examples of discrimination, generalization, and maintenance; G-21: Use procedures to promote stimulus and response generalization.
  • Breaking Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Behavioral MomentumBreaking Down a Mock BCBA® Exam Question: Behavioral Momentum
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller breaks down a BCBA® mock exam question. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections G-2: Use interventions based on motivating operations and discriminative stimuli; G-13: Use the high-probability instructional sequence.
  • Level Up Your Understanding of Differential Reinforcement ProceduresLevel Up Your Understanding of Differential Reinforcement Procedures
    Test your knowledge of differential reinforcement with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she discusses the specific DR procedure to provide the client with reinforcement for exhibiting higher rates of the target behavior(s) that already exist in their repertoire. Additionally, Dana draws parallels to personal experiences and highlights skill areas for which clients could benefit from this SR schedule. BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-5: Define and provide examples of schedules of reinforcement and G-14: Use reinforcement procedures to weaken behavior (e.g., DRA, FCT, DRO, DRL, NCR).
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Explore the 2 Types of Negative ReinforcementTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Explore the 2 Types of Negative Reinforcement
    Test your understanding of negative reinforcement with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she discusses the two specific types and details and nuances using relatable examples that significantly impact our everyday lives. BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-4: Define and provide examples of positive and negative reinforcement contingencies and G-1: Use positive and negative reinforcement procedures to strengthen behavior.
  • Hungry by Association: The Conditioned Motivating Operation Behind TV Ad CravingsHungry by Association: The Conditioned Motivating Operation Behind TV Ad Cravings
    Put your knowledge of motivating operations to the test. PTB co-founder Dana Meller dives into a specific type of CMO and explains how seemingly innocuous visuals on TV ads can trigger a state of deprivation for the advertised item, resembling the effects of an unconditioned motivating operation. Dana presents an intriguing example highlighting the process of pairing and the associations that can unexpectedly ignite intense cravings. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations and G-2 Use interventions based on motivating operations and discriminative stimuli.
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Programming for GeneralizationTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Programming for Generalization
    Test your knowledge of behavior-change procedures as PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses generative learning and programming for generalization. Dana explains one of the nine procedures for achieving generalization that emphasizes the need to generalize the response across similar stimuli, while recognizing that different stimuli may require different responses. NOTE: Here, Dana mentions there are seven methods for programming for generalization, which is consistent with the literature for the 4th Edition Task List. But, for the 5th Edition Task List, there are additional methods. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections G-12: Use equivalence-based instruction and G-21 Use procedures to promote stimulus and response generalization.
  • Test Your ABA Terminology: What Are The 3 Types of ExtinctionTest Your ABA Terminology ➠ What Are The 3 Types of Extinction?
    Test your knowledge of Concepts & Principles and Behavior-Change Procedures with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews the different types of operant extinction procedures. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-9: Define and provide examples of operant extinction, G-15: Use extinction.
  • BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Identify the Intervention's Reinforcement ScheduleBreaking Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Identify the Intervention's Reinforcement Schedule
    Test your behavior-change procedures skills with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she breaks down a BCBA® mock exam question about the differences between contingent and non-contingent schedules, focusing on an antecedent-based, response-independent schedule of reinforcement. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections G-2: Use interventions based on motivating operations and discriminative stimuli and G-14: Use reinforcement procedures to weaken behavior (e.g., DRA, FCT, DRO, DRL, NCR).
  • Mastering the ABCs of BehaviorPTB's Special ABA Sauce: Mastering the ABCs of Behavior
    Test your understanding of the ABCs of Behavior with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she analyzes a tasty scenario to identify the MO, SD, prompt, behavior, and consequence using PTB's special ABC breakdown method. Discover how ordering extra sauce serves as a perfect example to unravel the intricate relationship between MOs, deprivation, SDs, and reinforcement. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-1: Define and provide examples of behavior, response, and response class, B-10: Define and provide examples of stimulus control, B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations and G-4: Use stimulus and response prompts and fading (e.g., errorless, most-to-least, least-to-most, prompt delay, stimulus fading).
  • ABA terms your need to know: procedural integrity.Test Your ABA Terminology ➠ Procedural Integrity & Components for Effective Treatment
    Let's dig into the concept of procedural integrity. What is it? What are other various names (aka) it is referred to. Procedural integrity is essential for accurately interpreting experimental results and the effectiveness of treatments. PTB co-founder Dana Meller details the concept of treatment drift and provides valuable tips to ensure a high level of treatment integrity. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section H-6: Monitor client progress and treatment integrity.
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