Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 38–44 | Cite as

Reducing Elopement in a Preschooler with Autism Using Differential Reinforcement

  • Jenny C. WellsEmail author
  • Patricia Sheehey
  • Emily Pratt


Elopement is a behavior that occurs in many children with autism spectrum disorder as well as other developmental disorders that often places them at risk of injury or death from traffic or drowning. A multiple baseline design across three targeted transitions was used in this study to evaluate the effectiveness of a differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI) intervention implemented by the child’s classroom teacher and paraeducator during the school day. The behavioral skills training (BST) model was followed to train the classroom teacher and paraprofessional staff to implement DRI to eliminate the elopement of the preschool student with ASD. The BST model of training resulted in staff quickly acquiring the data collection and DRI skills and maintaining mastery of the procedures without further training. The student’s straying and elopement behaviors were eliminated across transitions as well as during the fading of reinforcement phase. The school staff reported a positive perception on the use of the DRI intervention.


Autism spectrum disorder Elopement Differential reinforcement Behavior skills training 


Author Contributions

JCW and EP: designed the study. PS and JCW: assisted with the data analysis and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. EP: executed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the results.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethics Statement

Study procedures were reviewed and approved by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Institutional Review Board. Informed parental consent was received in writing prior to beginning the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special EducationUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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