As parents, instructors and service providers, we have all faced instances of working with someone who is engaging in undesired/non-compliant behavior and despite how much we push, the individual does not follow through with the task demand. One approach to address this pattern of behavior it to use a high-probability request sequence. A high-probability (high-p) request sequence is an intervention that you can use when you start an interaction where you will be asking the individual to complete a non-preferred task. This intervention is implemented at the beginning of the interaction and prior to the person engaging in undesired behaviors.
So what does the intervention look like?? An instructor/parent presents an “easy” task that the client consistently and accurately completes on his/her own, before presenting the task that is non-preferred to the client. Essentially, you are building positive behavior momentum by building from tasks you know they can do consistently to more difficult task requests. By pairing a preferred task with a non-preferred task, you are creating a situation in which the client gets to do a task s/he wants to do before being asked to do something s/he has not wanted to do. The behavioral momentum created by the high-p requests encourages the student/child to persist with the more difficult, low probability request. Benefits of using high-probability requests include an increase in socially appropriate behaviors and a reduction in non-compliance and escape-related behavior from task completion as well as a decrease in problem behaviors during transitions.
How Do We Use the High-Probability Request Sequence?
- Start by making a list of high-probability tasks (easy tasks you know the learner can do). This can include motor movements or verbal responses the client can complete independently and will do without hesitation or non-compliance, 100% of the time. Examples could include clap your hands, touch your nose, say your name, draw a circle, etc.
- Then use these high-p requests, presenting 2 to 5 quickly to the learner before the low-probability request.
- Compliance with high-probability requests must be reinforced immediately after each response (e.g., verbal praise), and compliance with the low-probability requests must be reinforced immediately with a powerful reinforcer (i.e., a candy or preferred snack or toy).
Here is an example for a learner who displays non-compliance when working on a spelling list task:
|Type of Request||Direction||Response||Reinforcer|
|High Probability Request||Write your name||Writes their name||“Great Job writing your name”|
|High Probability Request||Write the date||Writes the date||“Excellent”|
|High Probability Request||Underline the first word||Underlines the word||“You did a fantastic job underlining”|
|Low Probability Request||Copy the first spelling word||Copies the word||“Wow!!!” and then Provide a preferred reinforcer with the verbal praise|
Things to Keep in Mind
There should be no breaks between instructions since the goal for the high-p request sequence is to build on the positive momentum created by the individual’s compliance with the initial, mastered tasks.
If a client engages in problem behaviors, hold off from using the high-p request sequence right after the problem behavior because we do not want the learner to think that non-compliance gains them access to easier requests.
–Daniel Enriquez, BCBA