Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Ehly, Stewart W.

Second Advisor

Berg, Wendy K.

First Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W.

Second Committee Member

Berg, Wendy K.

Third Committee Member

Wacker, David P.

Fourth Committee Member

Ringdahl, Joel E.

Fifth Committee Member

Lindgren, Scott D.

Sixth Committee Member

Duys, David K.


Behavioral momentum theory provides a conceptual framework for the study of the recurrence of previously extinguished operant behavior. Commonly referred to as treatment relapse, this is the failure to maintain treatment gains (e.g., reductions in challenging behavior) when there is a change in conditions under which these gains were achieved. One treatment relapse paradigm previously examined in basic and applied research is reinstatement. Reinstatement of challenging behavior has been shown to occur when functional reinforcers are delivered on a fixed-time schedule following extinction of challenging behavior. Although examinations appropriate behavior have applied value, analyses of reinstatement have been conducted almost exclusively with challenging behavior. During the current study, a reinstatement methodology was applied to communicative responses with five children diagnosed with developmental disabilities who exhibited comorbid communication deficits, as well as challenging behavior maintained by positive reinforcement. In the first phase of the reinstatement evaluation, each child received functional communication training (FCT) within a positive reinforcement context within a two-component multiple schedule design with each schedule paired with a distinct communicative response. After achieving steady-state responding in the first phase, in which all participants were independently emitting both communicative responses, all appropriate communication was placed on extinction in the second phase. Extinction continued until rates of appropriate communication were at or near zero. In the third phase, positive reinforcement was delivered and the recurrence of appropriate communication was evaluated. For two of five participants, communicative responding recurred following the fixed-time delivery of the functional reinforcer, indicating a successful demonstration of reinstatement. For three of five participants, communicative responding recurred prior to the delivery of fixed-time reinforcement, indicating that an alternative recurrence phenomenon likely occurred. These results suggest that reinstatement methodologies can be applied to cases in which FCT treatment failures have occurred to efficiently restore clinical gains for some participants. Implications for clinical practice and future directions of this line of research are discussed.


behavioral momentum theory, functional communication training, recurrence, reinstatement, translational research


xv, 116 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 108-116).


Copyright © 2017 Stephen Edward Ryan