Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Kimberly Crosland, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Catia Cividini-Motta, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Raymond G. Miltenberger, Ph.D., BCBA-D


Differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors, Discrete trial training, Diurnal bruxism, Tooth gnashing


The field of Applied Behavior Analysis is often used to intervene in dangerous or harmful behaviors to the benefit of service recipients. Many children engage in diurnal bruxism which can cause damage to their teeth, gums, and jaws. Tooth gnashing, which is a movement of the jaw that results in high impact between the lower and upper teeth, is a specific and damaging behavior which is included under the label of diurnal bruxism. This study examined the impact of using differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors to decrease the percentage of words spoken while gnashing teeth to reduce the long-term damage caused by this behavior. Opportunities to use vocal verbal behavior were contrived by asking the participant to tact pictures during Discrete Trial Training (DTT) sessions. This study provides evidence that differential reinforcement may be an effective method for reducing tooth gnashing behavior while tacting which generalized to other settings but not other types of verbal behaviors, such as manding. Tooth gnashing also decreased in frequency during client singing and self stimulatory behaviors.