Autism Resource blog:

Parent Support University Week 6

May 6, 2020
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Speaker 1 (00:01):

Hey, AnswersNow. Friends and family. I am Adam Dreyfus. I'm the chief science officer of AnswersNow. What is AnswersNow? Well, it's a mobile platform that connects you directly to your own BCBA, a board certified behavior analyst. So you can just go to your App store. I've got an iPhone, so I can go to the App store. You can go to Google Play, you play store and type in AnswersNow, all one word. And you'll have the app. You'll be able to connect directly with your own clinician. You can either sign up and have your own clinician, kind of like a personal trainer for as long as you want or you can just sign up for a little bit and get a video call and get a couple of questions answered. We also have our parent groups.

Speaker 1 (00:42):

We've got blogs, we've got all kinds of stuff. So either download the app off of your phone. AnswersNow, all one word you'll see a little purple a butterfly or go to That's our desktop platform. So just check out And again, you can check out the communities that we've got. You can check out the blogs that we've got. You can sign up to talk to a BCBA. There's lots of different things to do there. So what we've been doing during this crisis is that we have been having a weekly tip kind of video about trying to teach parents. Like how does a BCBA think cause what we hear all the time from parents is, man, I wish I knew what you guys knew.

Speaker 1 (01:32):

And it's really amazing what you can do with the kids. And they seem to just listen to you and it's just technique. And so what we've done is I call it the pile of information, right? Like, the pile of information that most board certified behavior analysts have in their head has been compiled in a lot of different places. And one of my favorite places is the National Professional Development Center. Has put together a really great website, a bunch of training modules. And what they did is they took all of the evidence based practices. These are all the things that we know work and put little training modules together. And so what we're doing is kind of anchoring ourselves there and working our way through our list and explaining these in very short little video form.

Speaker 1 (02:16):

So today we're gonna be talking about extinction. Extinction is kind of a funny word and people usually just think of it in terms of animals going extinct. But it's got a very specific term and it's a really powerful concept. So we're going to get to that in a second. Just reminding you, go to Check us out there or go to, just open up your phone and go to your store, either your App store or the Google play store and download the AnswersNow app. So extinction. What exactly does that mean? So it is an evidence based practice. And what it refers to is the phenomenon of when a behavior isn't getting reinforced anymore. Think of it like a plant getting water. If the plant's not getting water anymore, it goes away.

Speaker 1 (03:03):

So extinction is the process by which behaviors kind of go away. And what the core idea of it is is that people behave a certain way because it's being reinforced. So there's, it's, there's a reason that they're doing it. And you can think of all kinds of good examples, right? Like people go to the gym, they get fitter, they feel better. That's reinforcing. Boom, their gym behavior goes up. But the same is true of behaviors you don't want to see like yelling, screaming, running, hurting yourselves, hurting someone else. You think, what are they getting from that? Well, you can be guaranteed that they're getting something from it, otherwise they wouldn't be doing it. So most of the time when we think of extinction and if a behavior analyst kind of brings it up, we're usually thinking of like, how do we turn off a behavior that we don't want to see?

Speaker 1 (03:55):

How do we extinguish it or place it on extinction? Place on extinction is a fancy term for how do we deprive it of reinforcement. And that's the really important part. So say you've got a behavior like slapping yourself in the face. A fairly common one amongst children and even adults on the spectrum. You see it in a lot of different places, a lot of different settings and it can mean a lot of different things. Someone can slap themselves in the face because they want you to leave them alone. Someone can slap themselves in the face because they want you to come over and spend time with them. Someone can slap themselves in the face because they want something, right? Like they want a glass of water or to play video games or they can slap themselves in the face just cause they like the way it feels.

Speaker 1 (04:40):

They like the sound of it. They can like the way it feels on their skin, they can like the sound of it. So there's a lot of different reasons. So there's no one way to place face slapping behavior on extinction. You have to know what's feeding it. And that's really the core of what a behavior analyst does, is they try to determine the motivation for the behaviors. Because once you have a really good idea of what the motivation of the behaviors are then you have a reasonable chance of changing the behaviors around. Or what you really want to do is teach new behaviors. So how do you place something on extinction? So first you gotta figure out what the function of the behaviors, what's kind of causing it, because that's what you want to turn off.

Speaker 1 (05:26):

Now it's important that you don't just turn off the water for the behavior. You don't want, you want to turn on a behavior that can replace it. That's one of the places that parents and caregivers and frankly a lot of behavior analysts can get tripped up on is they're like, Oh, I'm going to put this behavior on extinction. So let's say the kid slaps themselves in the face because they want some attention from you. That's a very, very common reason. You see that a lot in schools and you see that a lot in households is that the kids have gone too long without somebody paying attention for them. So they've been in, it happened probably accidentally the first time. They just happen to kind of do something like this. And then somebody paid attention to them. And what happened is that behavior got reinforced again, a little bit of water.

Speaker 1 (06:14):

And so you'll see, you see more and more that you, all behaviors are like that. You, you, you learn it at a certain point and it works for you. You keep doing it. So that one's a problematic one because by and large, if you slap yourself in the face, you're going to get other people's attention. So maybe a BCBA comes in, they said, Oh, I think this is attention. I think that's what's going on here is they're getting a lot of attention for this behavior. So just don't pay any attention to them when they slap themselves in the face. The parents like, great. Got it. And they stopped doing it. And then you will see frequently something called an extinction burst, which is exactly what it sounds like, like a burst of the behaviors you don't want to see, so you're not paying attention to them, slapping themselves in the face.

Speaker 1 (07:01):

You start seeing the face slapping, kind of going down and down, and then boom, it kind of kicks back up again before it ultimately goes away. Kind of reminds me of the virus charts that they're showing us, the episodes of ups and downs. So that's the extinction burst. And that's just, that's, it's good to be aware of that. But what they don't do is they say, well, how do you teach them to get the attention that they want in a, in a, in a way that works for you. So there's a couple of ways to do that. A couple a weeks ago we talked about differential reinforcement. That's the best way. What that means is say you're only giving them attention every 20 minutes, 30 minutes, something like that. And that's what's causing them to engage in the face slapping behavior so that they can get more of your attention.

Speaker 1 (07:49):

You just give them attention. On a little bit of, we call it a thicker schedule just means more often. And that's pretty easy to do cause it can be anything. It can be waving at him. Hey, how's it going, buddy? Little Pat on the shoulder a little as you walk past down and give him a little Pat on the back, all of that stuff kind of counts as attention. It doesn't mean you have to sit down and play with them for an hour. It just means a little bit of water. Maybe sometimes you do want to give them a lot of water to try to make sure that their attention tank is pretty full. But they can be little things. It can be a little smiles, just something that that water is their appropriate behavior.

Speaker 1 (08:29):

So you place the face slapping on extinction, but the not face slapping, you give a lot of attention to because what'll happen is, yeah, maybe face slapping will go away, but they'll come up with something else to get attention. They might bang their head, they might throw something. Usually what happens is it can, it can be a little bit more intense than the behavior that you extinguished. Cause they still have that need. They still have that. They're going to find a way to get it. So it is that you always want to make sure that you have some kind of replacement for your art. What are they doing? Here's why I think they're doing that. Here's how I can teach them to get that thing that they want. I love, I frankly love attention seeking behavior and there's some really intense attention seeking behavior out there because we control all the attention and all it means is just spend a little bit more time with them or somebody, have somebody do it.

Speaker 1 (09:24):

Come and sit down with them, come and read them a story, come and do something. Wicked them across the room, something. You just have to give them some kind of attention. So extinction, very powerful idea. And you want to be very careful with it. A lot of these techniques that we're talking about are really powerful and it isn't too far of a stretch to say the misapplication of these basic principles has resulted in the behaviors that you don't want to see. What does that mean? It means that all of these kids and all of these adults are behaving. The word we use is lawfully because it works for them. It might not work for you, it might not work for me, but it's working for them. And most of them are socially driven. That means our behavior can have a profound impact on their, on how often they happen.

Speaker 1 (10:21):

Most of the behaviors that I encounter in a school, in a home setting are due to attention seeking behavior or escape behavior very different things and require very different intervention packages. But that is why you want to talk to a clinician. So go to and sign up or download the app off of your phone on Google Play or the App store. And you can be chatting with a clinician and being like, Hey, I saw this video about this guy. My kid totally does that. He goes, he does fill in the blank and I need some help with it and you will get help right away. We want to make sure that you also have free access to this information. So I want to remind you that you can find out about all of these evidence based practices that we are talking about at the National Professional Development Center.

Speaker 1 (11:13):

They have a series of modules that fall under the name afirm, A F I R M, the affirm modules where you can deep dive on extinction, differential enforcement, all of these things. And you can begin to think like a behavior analyst. So we talked about extinction burst, we talked about differential reinforcement a couple of weeks ago. You'll certain see how all these pieces kind of fit together, but it can be overwhelming. It can be a lot. I remember very little of this made sense to me until I've been studying for about a year. And my the folks who trained me said this might not make sense to you for about a year. And I thought, man, they know what they're talking about. I know how to read. I'm gonna, I'm gonna catch up on this. I'm devoting myself to this.

Speaker 1 (11:55):

Of course I'm going to know how to do it. And I didn't. It took me about a year. So again, what we're trying to do is reduce the barrier of entry for parents and caregivers like you to some of this information. Give you an idea of how it works. We're not talking about like, Oh, Hey, we're going to make you into a behavior analyst, but it's good to have a sense of how a behavior analyst thinks and how they go about doing things so that you can be an educated consumer when it comes to maybe you have ABA in your house. And there are people working with your children. What questions do you ask them? How do you know to that what they're doing is working. So it's it's good to know these things as much as possible.

Speaker 1 (12:35):

So I'm gonna wrap up today. That is our little blurb about extinction. Extinction is how you turn behaviors off. You want to find out what's watering the behavior, take that away and then bring in some new water and water the behavior that you want is the easiest way to say. I want to wish everybody out there a really blessed day. It is a beautiful day here in Richmond, Virginia and thank you for joining us. Check us out and get answers Go to the app store and download us at the Google Play store or the Apple store. It's AnswersNow, all one word, and you'll see the icon there, a little purple a butterfly. And we will see you next week.

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