How Long Does Extinction Burst Last in ABA?

Navigate the duration of an extinction burst in ABA with our detailed strategies for effective management.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
July 9, 2024

How Long Does Extinction Burst Last in ABA?

Understanding Extinction Bursts

As families navigate the journey of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for their children with Autism, they may encounter a phenomenon known as an extinction burst. Gaining a clear understanding of this concept and the factors influencing its duration can help families better manage these situations.

Definition and Concept

An extinction burst is a phenomenon where the target response may temporarily increase before showing a characteristic decelerating extinction curve when the contingency between a response and its reinforcer is terminated. This temporary increase in target responding is referred to as a burst or bursting, and specifically as an extinction burst when it coincides with the introduction of extinction. Extinction bursts have been observed in both human/clinical participants and nonhuman/laboratory subjects, with differing prevalence rates between the two groups. The prevalence estimates vary due to differences in reinforcer-consumption time and how it is included in calculating baseline response rates.

Extinction bursts have also been observed during treatments like Functional Communication Training (FCT) when periods of nonreinforcement are introduced. These bursts may occur when the establishing operation evokes responses that have produced the reinforcer in the past, such as problem behavior.

Factors Influencing Duration

The duration of an extinction burst can vary depending on the child and their behavior history. Some children may only exhibit an increase in behavior for a short period, while others may take longer. However, it is important to note that extinction bursts are temporary and will eventually subside. A quantitative theory of choice known as the matching law suggests that extinction bursts occur when the relative value of the target behavior increases temporarily at the start of extinction due to the absence of competing reinforcer consumption as a response option.

This increase in relative value leads to a temporary increase in the target response, resulting in an extinction burst. The matching law also provides an explanation for why extinction bursts tend to be short-lived, as the value of the target behavior decreases rapidly with more exposure to extinction.

The duration of an extinction burst can also vary depending on the individual and the behavior being targeted. Some extinction bursts may be short-lived, lasting only a few minutes or hours, while others may persist for days or even weeks [2].

To learn more about how to manage extinction bursts during ABA therapy, please visit here.

Duration of Extinction Bursts

A common question asked by parents and caregivers involved in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is 'how long does an extinction burst last in ABA?'. While the process can be challenging, understanding the duration of extinction bursts can provide a clearer perspective and enhance the efficacy of the therapy.

Variable Timelines

The timeline of extinction bursts can vary significantly, depending on several factors. Some extinction bursts may be short-lived, lasting only a few minutes or hours, while others may persist for days or even weeks. However, it's important to note that most extinction bursts are short-lived but intense, with a common timeframe of about one week until the challenging behavior subsides when it does not achieve its desired outcome, especially in children.

Despite the intensity, remember that extinction bursts are generally temporary and will eventually subside, marking a crucial milestone in behavior modification.

Individual Variability

The duration of an extinction burst can also vary depending on the individual and the specific behavior being targeted. Factors such as the child's behavior history, the nature of the behavior, and the consistency of the extinction implementation can influence the duration of the extinction burst [2].

Research conducted by NCBI suggests that extinction bursts occur when the relative value of the target behavior temporarily increases at the start of extinction due to the absence of competing reinforcers. This increase in relative value leads to a temporary increase in the target behavior, resulting in an extinction burst. The study also provides an explanation for why extinction bursts tend to be short-lived, as the value of the target behavior decreases rapidly with more exposure to extinction.

Understanding the duration and variability of extinction bursts in ABA can help parents and caregivers better manage these challenging periods and stay committed to the process. For more information on managing extinction bursts during ABA therapy, visit our article on how to manage extinction bursts during ABA therapy.

Managing Extinction Bursts

Successfully managing extinction bursts requires a clear understanding of the extinction process and effective strategies to ensure the best outcomes. The two key elements for managing extinction bursts include maintaining consistency and assessing the environment.

Importance of Consistency

Extinction bursts can be challenging and emotional. During these situations, it is crucial to remain calm and consistent, avoiding giving in to the undesired behavior. Consistency in applying the extinction procedure is key, as sporadic reinforcement can prolong the extinction burst and cause confusion for the individual undergoing therapy [5].

Implementing extinction in applied behavior analysis (ABA) requires meticulous planning, including the gradual removal of reinforcers and teaching replacement behaviors. Reflecting on outcomes and adjusting strategies as needed is crucial. If the behavior persists, it may indicate the need to slow down and build skills more gradually, always prioritizing the learner's well-being. For more information on managing extinction bursts during ABA therapy, visit our article on how to manage extinction bursts during aba therapy.

Environmental Assessment

Assessing environmental factors that may contribute to or reinforce undesired behavior during an extinction burst is essential. Identifying and modifying these factors through antecedent interventions can help reduce the occurrence and intensity of the burst.

Environmental assessment can provide valuable insights into why a certain behavior is persisting, despite the implementation of an extinction procedure. This can lead to more effective interventions and potentially shorten the duration of an extinction burst. Understanding the environment and how it influences behavior is a crucial part of extinction burst aba.

In conclusion, managing extinction bursts effectively requires a comprehensive approach that includes consistency in the application of extinction procedures and careful assessment of the environment. Furthermore, always prioritize the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of learners when applying extinction in ABA. It's essential to respond to emotional needs first, convey understanding and respect, and validate upset feelings to teach empathy and understanding.

Strategies for Extinction Bursts

When dealing with extinction bursts in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), it's crucial to have effective strategies in place. These strategies not only help in managing challenging behaviors but also contribute to the overall effectiveness of the therapy. Two key strategies include conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and teaching functional communication skills.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

Conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a crucial step in effectively addressing and managing extinction bursts in ABA therapy. An FBA helps in identifying the antecedents, behaviors, and consequences contributing to challenging behaviors, providing insights to develop tailored intervention strategies.

In the context of extinction bursts, an FBA can provide valuable information about what triggers the challenging behavior and what reinforces it. Understanding these factors can help in developing an effective extinction plan and predicting how long the extinction burst might last. For more information on how to manage extinction bursts during ABA therapy, visit our article on how to manage extinction bursts during ABA therapy.

Functional Communication Skills

Teaching functional communication skills to individuals undergoing ABA therapy can significantly reduce challenging behaviors during extinction bursts [5]. Providing alternative ways for individuals to communicate their needs and wants decreases their reliance on challenging behaviors, promoting more appropriate and socially acceptable forms of expression.

According to a study published by NCBI, extinction bursts have been observed during treatments like Functional Communication Training (FCT) when periods of nonreinforcement are introduced. These bursts occur when the individual attempts to use previous behaviors that have produced a response in the past.

However, by teaching functional communication skills, individuals can learn more effective ways to express their needs and wants. This reduces the need for challenging behavior and makes the extinction process smoother. For more information on the application of extinction in ABA, you can visit our article on types of extinction in aba.

By employing these strategies, parents and therapists can better manage extinction bursts and facilitate the success of ABA therapy. Remember, consistency and patience are key in this process, and it's important to celebrate every step of progress.

Application of Extinction in ABA

The appropriate application of extinction in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is crucial in managing and reducing undesired behaviors. This involves meticulous planning, strategic implementation, and the integration of positive strategies.

Planning and Implementation

Implementing extinction in ABA requires careful planning. This includes the gradual removal of reinforcers and teaching replacement behaviors [6]. It's essential to reflect on the outcomes and adjust strategies as needed. If the undesired behavior persists, it may indicate the need to slow down and build skills more gradually, always prioritizing the learner's well-being.

During an extinction burst, it is crucial to stay calm and consistent, avoiding giving in to the undesired behavior. Consistency in applying the extinction procedure is key, as sporadic reinforcement can prolong the extinction burst and cause confusion for the individual undergoing therapy. For more insights on how to manage extinction bursts during ABA therapy, visit our article on how to manage extinction bursts during aba therapy.

Combination with Positive Strategies

Extinction in ABA is not recommended as a standalone approach. It's essential to combine extinction with positive strategies. By reinforcing desired behaviors while extinguishing undesired ones, you can create a balanced approach that promotes positive behavioral change.

For instance, if a child is used to receiving attention for a certain undesired behavior, the extinction approach would involve withholding that attention. Concurrently, the child would be taught and reinforced for alternative, more desirable behaviors. This combined approach ensures that the child is not left without a strategy to communicate or achieve their needs.

It's worth noting that extinction is less likely to be suggested for children with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors. In these cases, a more nuanced approach is necessary, focusing on safety, skill acquisition, and positive reinforcement.

Assessing environmental factors that may contribute to or reinforce undesired behavior during an extinction burst is also essential. Identifying and modifying these factors through antecedent interventions can help reduce the occurrence and intensity of the burst [5].

By effectively planning and implementing extinction in ABA, and combining it with positive strategies, parents can work towards reducing undesired behaviors while promoting positive growth and development. For more information on the different types of extinction procedures used in ABA, read our article on types of extinction in aba.

Psychological Impact of Extinction

The process of extinction in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can have profound psychological impacts. It's crucial to approach it with sensitivity and consideration for the learner's emotional safety and ethical considerations.

Emotional Safety

Extinction in ABA should never lead to feelings of neglect in the learner. Ignoring a learner's needs, especially those who may have experienced trauma or struggle with communication, can increase challenging behaviors. Instead, the focus should be on understanding underlying needs, teaching replacement skills, and allowing learners to access what they seek in a more appropriate manner.

The physical, psychological, and emotional safety of learners must always be a priority when applying extinction in ABA. It is essential to respond to emotional needs first, convey understanding and respect, and validate upset feelings. These actions teach empathy and understanding, helping to maintain a safe and supportive environment for the learner. For more information on managing challenging behaviors during ABA therapy, refer to our article on how to manage extinction bursts during aba therapy.

Ethical Considerations

From an ethical standpoint, it's important to note that extinction in ABA is not recommended as a standalone approach. Combining extinction with positive strategies is essential. For instance, extinction is less likely to be suggested for children with self-injurious behaviors and aggressive behaviors [6].

Furthermore, while extinction is often included as an element of a Differential Reinforcement of Alternative behavior (DRA) procedure, the potentially serious results of this component (i.e. the extinction burst) may make this element impractical or even unethical.

Ethical considerations also extend to the duration of the extinction burst in ABA. A refinement of the matching law called the temporally weighted matching law (TWML) accounts for how extinction affects the value of response options over time. The TWML suggests that extinction bursts occur when the relative value of the target behavior increases temporarily at the start of extinction due to the absence of competing reinforcer consumption as a response option [1].

Implementing an extinction procedure requires a comprehensive understanding of the learner's behaviors, needs, and emotional well-being. A thoughtful and ethical approach can help manage the duration and intensity of an extinction burst, contributing to positive outcomes in ABA therapy. For further reference on this topic, browse through our articles on types of extinction in aba and what causes an extinction burst.

References

[1]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9868065/

[2]: https://www.goldenstepsaba.com/resources/extinction-bursts

[3]: https://study.com/learn/lesson/extinction-burst-psychology.html

[4]: https://www.adinaaba.com/post/extinction-bursts-in-aba

[5]: https://therapybrands.com/blog/how-to-manage-extinction-bursts-during-aba-therapy/

[6]: https://howtoaba.com/extinction/

[7]: https://masteraba.com/differential-reinforcement/