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Reducing self-injurious behaviour using non-contingent sensory reinforcement

Author: Rebecca Lowes

Submitted as part of the MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis, in the School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, September 2019

Self-injurious behaviour (SIB) in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a common occurrence. The behaviour can have a detrimental effect on the individual’s quality of life and lead to lasting physical damages. The purpose of this research was to establish whether SIB could be reduced by using non-contingent sensory reinforcement. In previous literature, SIB has been successfully reduced using reinforcement procedures however research is lacking in use of sensory reinforcement to do this. This study focused on one individual with ASD to see whether the SIB of finger biting could be reduced using a chew necklace. Both descriptive and indirect functional assessment methods were used in order to assess the function of the behaviour. The intervention consisted of a chew necklace that was provided on a non-contingent basis throughout the day. The use of the chew necklace was successful in reducing finger biting behaviour, although further interventions are suggested in order to reduce the behaviour to zero levels. The findings are discussed and implications for future research are suggested.

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