Extinction burst is used to describe the increase in intensity or rate of a behavior when the behavior no longer results in the usual reinforcer that maintains it over time. For example, an extinction burst is when the child’s hitting no longer results in a cookie so they retort to stronger hits, and/or screaming, and/or crying, et cetera. It is important for contingency managers (e.g., parents, teachers, professionals) do not “give in” during these bursts.
Extinction is frequently used to target or reduce interfering behavior such as:
- excessive scratching/picking
Extinction may not eliminate the behavior in every situation, so it’s not always the best choice of behavioral intervention especially if it involves harming oneself or someone else.
Steps to constructing ABA Extinction Procedure Plan
- Identify the interfering behavior
- Identify the data collection measures and baseline data
- Determine the function of the behavior
- Create an intervention plan
How to manage Extinction Burst
- Be Strong. The adult working with the child should not give in or reinforce the problematic behaviors that occur during an Extinction Burst.
- Stay Consistent. Don’t deviate. The adult needs to teach the child a new replacement behavior.
- Be Patient. The change will not happen overnight. The adult needs to reinforce the new replacement behavior as the appropriate behavior for the child to get wants and needs met.
- Be Prepared. Know how you plan to address the problematic behavior so it does not repeat itself.
Children who are on the spectrum tend to participate more in outbursts because they tend not to know how to use their words to get what they want and the outbursts, even though it is an inappropriate method of communication, it got them what they wanted or needed in the past.
It is important to get everyone on board that is in your child’s circle to follow and execute the same way for the change to be successful. The good news is that Extinction Burst will decrease more rapidly if the adult handles it calmly and effectively. The child will start to learn what is the appropriate behavior through the ABA therapy program. It is known that what is learned can be unlearned. A child can learn to use their words instead of throwing a tantrum to get what they want.