DRO - No thanks, I’ll have the coffee

In the ABA course work I am doing each section is initiated by a bit of history - some of which I knew some of which I did not. However each course has elements of ABA historic implementation that the instructors are not proud of. I shall attempt to explain an example here.

A common phrase I hear is the concept of DRO. A DRO is Differential Reinforcement of Other behaviours.

So in ABA terms a DRO would be putting the problem behaviour on extinction and using reinforcement on any other behaviour. This should have the outcome over time of the person being more likely to express their distress using any other behaviour than the problem behaviour. It does however raise some issues.

Within the last year while I was teaching I heard a teacher, who has had recent ABA training, stating that we need to put him on a DRO straight away. The training example that I had given and we were discussing had not mentioned anything about the function of the persons behaviour, I was only half way through the point I was making. The DRO statement was leapt to way too early in the information IMHO.

DRO - Differential Reinforcement of Other behaviours. This type of system is considered outdated, as stated on the course I am studying. In the history section we hear about how the industry / sector / discipline has moved through many states, I am sure it will continue and I am only going to mention one transition here.

When using a DRO we are not teaching specific replacement behaviours. However, as with the Greg Hanley post [here], this is something we need to be doing not missing. The course work was created in 2012 which is 5 years ago. This course states that the better alternative would be DRA. Our teacher, mentioned above had been on a recent 2016 ABA course.

A DRA is Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behaviours. With this system your aim is not to reinforce any random other behaviour. It is to enable the person by reinforcing a behaviour that can assist the person to communicate their need in a more appropriate manner. In my experience the procedure is more effective if you have a specific replacement behaviour to focus on rather than casting your net too wide.

Obviously some shaping may be needed however the field / discipline is vast and shaping would be a different post.