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Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category

Logo2012 was a great year for the Applied Behavioral Strategies blog. We had almost 100,000 visitors in total. Here is a list of the most visited blog postings last year. The great news is that I wrote some of the most visited posts in 2011. I am pleased that my posts remain relevant for readers.

#5. Early Morning School Routines. Who doesn’t need help with this? Seriously, it is THE most stressful time of the day for my house.

#4 Just Say No. I can see why this one has staying power. Almost daily, I hear myself saying “Parents need to learn to say no.” You don’t even have to state a reason. Just know that your child needs to learn to accept being told no. (And despite how it may feel or sound, it will NOT be the end of the world.)

#3 Autism Awareness Apps. I really need to update this link. I will be sure to do so in time for April give aways. Keep in mind that I’m also presenting on this topic at SXSW in Austin, TX in March, 2013.

#2. Do You Use Visual Schedules? Wow. I am pleased that this topic is still a hit. If you aren’t using visual schedules, you should! In my home, we use a homework whiteboard every day and it makes our afternoons a BREEZE!

#1. Using ABA to Teach Math. I had no idea when I wrote this post that it would become so popular. The great news is that ABA may be used for a variety of skills!

I cannot thank you enough for your readership! Keep the reading, following, sharing, ideas, feedback, and questions for Ask Missy Monday coming!

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English: A child not paying attention in class.

After yesterday‘s post regarding the use of ABA to treat ADHD, readers expressed interest in learning more. So today, one intervention to address ADHD behaviors will be discussed.

Reinforcement

Readers should not be surprised to hear that reinforcement is a recommended intervention. Reinforcement is a key topic in almost every single post on this blog. The important thing to remember is that reinforcement must be individually designed and administered in order to obtain maximum results. Individualization is not easy for teachers or parents. However, if appropriate reinforcers and correct schedules of reinforcement are utilized, great changes in behavior will be observed.

Differential Reinforcement

There are many types of differential reinforcement:

  • differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO)
  • differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI)
  • differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA)
  • differential reinforcement of higher rates of behavior (DRH; designed to increase desirable behaviors!)
  • differential reinforcement of lower rates of behavior (DRL)

Essentially, differential reinforcement is the use of reinforcement for one behavior and not for others. Differential reinforcement requires implementors to reinforce one behavior while withholding reinforcement for another.

Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA)

In this intervention, reinforcement is provided when an alternative behavior is observed but not when inappropriate behaviors are observed. Specifically, if a child is engaging in off task and distractable behaviors, alternative behaviors would be identified. It is important to know why (e.g., to get out of work, to get teacher attention, etc). An assessment must first be conducted to know why a behavior is occurring. To read more on assessment, check here, here, and here. Once the assessment has been completed, then alternative behaviors to obtain the same reinforcers are identified.

If a child is trying to get out of work, an alternative behavior is to work faster so that play and non-work time may be accessed. If a child is trying to gain teacher attention, then the child is taught to use appropriate behaviors to get teacher attention.

The next step is to reinforce the new/alternative behavior. If the child is working quickly, she needs to be reinforced with a nice long work break or play time. If the child appropriately recruits teacher attention, the teacher needs to come over quickly to give attention.

Thin Reinforcement

As with any intervention, the goal is to get appropriate behavior then to thin or reduce reinforcement so that the child may function like the rest of children in the class or home. It is important to thin reinforcement at a pace that will prevent the ADHD-type behaviors from escalating.

I hope this helps readers better understand one way that ABA may be used to address ADHD.

Related articles

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Last week, I (Missy) shared information about the Congressional Hearings on autism and I questioned why the news media had not picked up on the story. Clearly, they had more important things to talk about:

  • Lindsey Lohan getting arrested again
  • The lucky winners of the Powerball

Clearly, relying on television news media is not the best

Image representing Google Alerts as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

way to keep current on all things autism. For those of you who want to be in the know but who lack endless hours in front of the computer, I will share a few of my tricks with you.

RSS Feeds

One way to keep current, is to find your favorite webpages and set up RSS feeds so that you are alerted each time there is a change. I like to set up my RSS feeds right in my Outlook calendar so they appear like emails. You can also use Google to help you.

Google Alerts

I have several Google alerts set up including alerts for autism and applied behavior analysis. This is super easy! Visit this website and enter the term or terms that you are interested in. You will then receive alerts when those news items appear. Please note that you can set up weekly alerts and daily alerts and so forth.

Twitter Feeds

Several Twitter programs are available to assist you with information on Twitter. I tend to lean towards TweetDeck. I can set up columns on topics such as Step Parenting, Parenting, Autism, and behavior analysis. Within those columns I can read the twitter feed on that topic. You can also set up lists so that you organize your Tweeps by topic or content. I have a list on autism, GFCF, and behavior analysts. I have also written more in depth on Twitter and you can read about that here.

So, don’t feel overwhelmed as you try to keep up with the latest on your favorite topic. Many resources are available at your fingertips!

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s question comes from Gwen who writes:

“My high functioning 7-year-old is in mainstream 1st grade with an aide. Her biggest problem is laughing and saying, “No!” as an attempt to avoid working. She is not disruptive enough to be sent to the resource room, yet she is non-compliant which is not appropriate for general education. Our ABA team has tried token systems and they did not work.They tried PEC cards for “quiet time” and “stop talking” but those strategies did not work.

At home, I simply say in a firm voice,  “It’s time to work” and she does it. She may giggle and say repeatedly, “all done!” but the work is completed and it is usually correct!

Do you have any tips for us? She is simply running over them”

Hi Gwen! thanks for coming back to visit. We are sorry to hear that you are having troubles with your daughter’s behavior. Let’s talk about a few things.

Function of Behavior not Form

First, so many times teachers and other professionals fall in to the trap of treating a behavior based on its form (how it looks–or what behavior analysts call topography of the behavior). However, we should not attend to the form of the behavior as much as we should attend to its function (the result of the behavior).

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

We cannot effectively address a behavior without first knowing it’s function (why is your daughter doing this?). We typically understand the function by taking careful ABC data. We could also do some manipulations if necessary to prove why she is doing the behavior.

Your Daughter

Based on what you’ve told me, it seems that she is getting an awful lot of attention for her behavior (e.g., “no talking” and “quiet time” contingent on the behavior). If that is the case, a simple intervention of attending to her for good behavior (i.e., attending and working) and ignoring the junk behavior (i.e., work refusal and laughing) should be effective. Both techniques should be used in combination to ensure effectiveness of the intervention.

Example:

Seat work time. Your daughter laughs and says, “no”.

The teacher and aide should immediately turn their backs to her and instead give all of their attention to the other kids in class who are working quietly. The adults should say “I like how Johnny is working quietly” and “Suzie, you are doing great quiet work”

When your daughter is quiet and working, the teacher or the aide should immediately turn to her and give her praise for working quietly.

Class-Wide Reinforcement

The teacher may want to consider a class-wide reinforcement system so that all the children can be rewarded for staying on task and completing work

Keep me posted on how things go!!

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The Judge Rotenberg Center has come under fire in recent weeks. Apparently, The Center is literally at the center of a legal battle regarding alleged abuse and neglect to one of its clients. For more detailed information about the ongoing hearings, you may read here, here, here, and here. You may also watch these videos here, here, and here. You should know, this is not the first time The Center has come under fire (read here, here, and here).

At Issue

As best as we can tell, the case appears to be about medical malpractice with regards to treatment for a client. The client, Andre McCollins, was a resident at The Center for a period of time. According to various sources, he engaged in challenging behavior such as aggression, non-compliance, and disruption. According to the video and various sources, the client was restrained for several hours during which he was shocked 31 times. Apparently, the entire incident began because the client wouldn’t take off his coat.

Under Fire

In addition to the lawsuit against The Center, a number of individuals have come under fire. In particular are The Center medical doctor (Dr. James Riley), The Center Clinical Director, (Robert Von Heyn), and The Center Founder (Matthew Israel).

Client Rights

We will not pretend to be experts in the ethical requirements for physicians, despite a previous post on The Hippocratic Oath. We will, however, address client rights as it relates to ethical principles for Psychologists and Behavior Analysts. Dr. Von Heyn and Dr. Israel appear to be psychologists and/or Behavior Analysts.

As a psychologist, one of the general principles is Beneficence and Non-maleficence. Generally speaking, psychologists are to Do No Harm to their clients. It seems as if this general principle was overlooked when the client received 31 instances of electric shock.

As a behavior analyst, the behavior analyst should “recommend reinforcement rather than punishment whenever possible“.

Do Unto Others

Our philosophy in designing programs for individuals with behavioral challenges is to improve quality of life through effective intervention. We do that in a number of ways.

  1. First we modify antecedents to prevent challenging behavior from occurring in the first place.
  2. Then we identify replacement behaviors for the challenging behavior. This is often communication skills but it also includes teaching compliance.
  3. Finally, we reinforce new, appropriate behaviors and we stop reinforcing the problem behavior.

But most important of all, we recommend strategies that are humane. We ask that adults interact with and provide discipline in a respectful manner. We often use the old saying “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. If you are in the middle of a tantrum, would you want your husband, wife, or teacher to put you in a restraint and yell at you? Probably not.

Please share your thoughts on the case at The JRC. How would you want your loved one to be disciplined?

We are linking up again this week with Erica over at Yeah Write. Please hop on over there to see all the other wonderful posts this week.

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We have been to a number of IEP meetings where the results of a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) were presented. You won’t believe some of the things we have heard! Check out this list:

  1. Your child doesn’t need an FBA. FBAs are for children who have severe emotional problems.
  2. Here is our FBA form, let’s fill it out so we can write the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
  3. You cannot ask for an independent FBA. An FBA is not an assessment.
  4. We finished your child’s FBA. The function of your child’s behavior is anxiety.
  5. We finished your child’s FBA. The function of your child’s behavior is control.
  6. We tried to do an FBA but your child does not have any behaviors.
  7. I don’t know how to graph your child’s functional analysis results. They didn’t teach me how to graph in school.
  8. We don’t need a behavior analyst to do the FBA. Our special education teacher took a class on behavior. She can do it.
  9. Why did your report say the child escaped? Our staff keep children within arm’s length at  all times.

And the number 1 craziest thing we have heard about FBAs:

10. We cannot do an FBA as part of the initial evaluation. We have to see how he behaves in special education first.

Please share! What crazy things have you been told about an FBA? Behavior analysts, what have you heard?

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question actually comes from a list serve rather than an actual email to me directly.

A number of parents have been discussing the issue of scream rooms or seclusion timeout rooms. If you are interested in reading about this more, please check out our previous posts on the topic here, here, here, and here.

As part of the discussion about these rooms, a number of people mentioned the importance of having a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) done combined with developing an appropriate behavior plan. Other people then posted about the importance of a functional analysis. That is when a parent asked,

“Could you please explain the difference between an FBA (functional behavior assessment) and a Functional Analysis?” “Also, please explain who can do a functional analysis and why it’s important you get a qualified person to do it.”

We have written about FBAs on this blog before. We described an FBA here, we described when to do an FBA here, and we reviewed some legal cases on FBA here.

So, for a recap, remember:

The FBA is a multi-step process that may include some or all of the following:
A good FBA will include a graph summarizing the observations and/or functional analysis.
The FBA should result in a statement or statements that tell you WHY the child is engaging in the behavior.
Additionally, according to federal special education law, an FBA must be completed under these conditions:
  • If, during the IEP meeting, the team determines that the child has a behavior that is impeding his/her learning (or that of others)
  • If the child’s placement needs to become more restrictive because of the challenging behaviors
  • If the child’s behavior has resulted in an emergency change of placement
  • As part of the initial and full evaluation if necessary
What is a Functional Analysis?
 The functional analysis is one step or possible component of the FBA. The functional analysis is a manipulation of events to PROVE why the behavior is happening. For example, if the assessment data suggests that a child may be attention seeking with his/her behavior, then the functional analysis will be implemented so that in one condition, the child is given a toy immediately following the challenging behavior but in the comparison condition, the child is given attention immediately following the challenging behavior. Then, the behavior analyst will count and graph the number of times the child engaged in challenging behavior in each condition. If the child is truly attention seeking, the rates of challenging behavior will be higher when the child receives attention for his/her behavior when compared to rates when the child received a toy following his/her behavior.
I have simplified the description of the analysis in order to show readers the difference between an FBA and a functional analysis. Many functional analysis conditions can be completed and they may be quite complicated depending on the child’s behavior and other relevant information.
By definition, a functional analysis results in an increase in challenging behavior in some or all conditions. Thus, only appropriately trained people should oversee the design and implementation of such conditions. Additionally, the functional analysis results may be influenced by the implementor, the setting, the language in which the instructions are given, and other variables. Thus, the functional analysis should be completed in conditions that are as close to the natural setting as possible (including people, materials, and location).
Finally, the functional analysis ALWAYS results in a graph depicting the results of the analysis.
I hope this helps clarify the difference between the two procedures.
If you have questions about behavior be sure to email Missy at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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We had to dig deep in our files to find this one! It is perfect given all of our recent discussions on timeout. If you missed them, you can read more here, here, and here.

This is a Nancy cartoon with an original publication date of 1993 (c) Jerry Scott you are simply brilliant!

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question comes from Jillian and J.D. who ask,

“We have 2 children ages 2 and 4. They are driving us batty with their crying, whining, and tantrumming! Seriously, I cannot even get in the shower without one of them having a major meltdown. Please help us before we go crazy!”

I replied to Jillian and J.D. and said,

“I wish I could solve this problem for you but I do need a little bit more information. Tell me more about when these behaviors happen. You mentioned being in the shower. Can you tell me some other times these behaviors happen? Also, tell me how you react when your children engage in these behaviors. What do you say? How do you handle it?”

Jillian and J.D. wrote back almost immediately. They noted:

“The behaviors happen:

  • When Jillian is on the phone
  • When Jillian is cooking
  • When Jillian has a neighbor over
  • When Jillian is doing laundry

They also noted that when one of the kids whines to get something:

  • The child does not get what he wants
  • The child must ask using a “big boy” voice

Jillian and J.D. noted that when the children tantrum:

  • The child is first told “no!” so that they can learn not to do the behavior
  • After Jillian tells them no, she walks away unless someone is hitting
  • The child is put in 2 minute timeout for serious offenses (e.g., hitting brother)
  • When the child is calm, his needs are addressed

Now I have something I can work with! The first pattern that I noticed is that the behaviors seem to happen when mommy is busy (on the phone, cooking, laundry, etc). This means that the children have learned how to successfully divert mommy’s attention away from other important activities. I am certain that, as a mommy, you give your children ample high quality time (e.g., playing together, reading books together, etc). However, your children want even more of your time.

Antecedent Changes

Thus, before you begin one of your busy activities:

  1. Spend time playing with them
  2. Tell them that you are going to be busy for 15 minutes (or however much time you need–I recommend no longer than 30 minutes)
  3. Set the timer so they can have a clear signal when the activity is over
  4. When the activity is over, tell them they can have mommy time and praise them for letting you do your house work so that…..(e.g., we all can eat, or have clean clothes)
  5. If a child interrupts you during the work time, point to the timer but do not give any attention
  6. If a child tantrums, wines, or screams during the work time, do not “rush” in to save him

Consequence Changes

Once you have the antecedents taken care of, then you will need to change some of the ways that you respond to their behaviors.

  1. Refrain from stating “no!” after a behavior that has been reprimanded in the past. The children know they are not supposed to hit, scream, etc.
  2. Refrain from giving the child what he wants immediately after timeout
  3. When the child comes out of timeout, be sure to review what he did wrong and what he could do “next time”
  4. Remind your child that he cannot have X, Y, or Z because he _______ but that he can have it later
  5. If a child whines, remind him to use his big boy voice but do not give him what he wants right away. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when the timer goes off, he can ask using his big boy voice

I know this sounds like a lot and once you practice it a few times, you will get the hang of it. And not matter how much work it is, when those behaviors stops, it will be well-worth it. Please let us know how it goes!

If you have a question about behavior, email Missy at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, we try to review a research article on a hot topic for our readers. Because a timeout room procedure in Connecticut has received quite a bit of attention lately, it seems timely to review another study about timeout.

Christine Readdick and Paula Chapman authored the article called, Young Children’s Perceptions of Timeout. The Journal of Research in Childhood Education in 2000. If you want to read the article yourself, you may find it here.

Purpose

Because timeout has been such a widely used procedures in both homes and classrooms, and because researchers have never paused to ask children how they felt about being placed in timeout, the authors hoped to learn how children understood timeout. They stated that the specific study purpose was to learn how young children felt about being placed in timeout and if they understood why they were placed in timeout.

Participants

The authors studied 42 young children ages 2, 3, and 4 years old who attended child care centers that were willing to be included in the study. Parents consented in writing for their children to participate in the study.

Methods

Immediately following a timeout, the researchers interviewed the child asking a series of 17 pre-determined questions. These questions included things like:

  • do you like school?
  • when you are in timeout do you feel lonely?
  • when you are in timeout do you feel sad?
  • when you are in timeout do you feel that the teacher disliked you?
  • when you are in timeout do you feel that you dislike timeout?
  • do you think you need to be in timeout?
Results

More children reported feeling alone, yet safe while in timeout. More children also reported that they disliked (rather than liking) timeout. Sadly, more children also reported feeling that their peers did not like them when they were in timeout.

More children than not could identify what they were doing that led to timeout (e.g., I wasn’t playing the right way). More children reported being in timeout “a little” rather than “a lot”. Most children reported that an adult told them why they were in timeout. Interestingly, most children also indicated that they deserved to be in timeout.

Teachers placed most children in timeout for being non-compliant (N=27). Sixteen children were placed in timeout for aggression.

When the authors compared the answers between children who were placed in timeout “a little” to those of children who were placed in timeout “a lot”, the authors noticed that their negative feelings were more intensified (e.g., more alone, more sad, more disliked by friends).

Interestingly, only about 50% of the children correctly identified the reason for being placed in timeout. Observers recorded behaviors prior to timeout and those records were used to verify if children’s responses were correct.

Summary

The authors noted that timeout, in this study, was being used for minor offenses (e.g., non-compliance in most cases) and that timeout should be reserved for the most severe and dangerous behaviors.

We want to hear from readers. For those of you that have verbal children, have they shared their thoughts about timeout? Are your children being placed in timeout for minor offenses?

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