SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • disruptive behavior;
  • assessment;
  • classroom behavior;
  • communication;
  • developmentally disabled children

It is generally agreed that serious misbehavior in children should be replaced with socially appropriate behaviors, but few guidelines exist with respect to choosing replacement behaviors. We address this issue in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we developed an assessment method for identifying situations in which behavior problems, including aggression, tantrums, and self-injury, were most likely to occur. Results demonstrated that both low level of adult attention and high level of task difficulty were discriminative for misbehavior. In Experiment 2, the assessment data were used to select replacements for misbehavior. Specifically, children were taught to solicit attention or assistance or both verbally from adults. This treatment, which involvedthe differential reinforcement of functional communication, produced replicable suppression of behavior problems across four developmentally disabled children. The results were consistent with an hypothesis stating that some child behavior problems may be viewed as a nonverbal means of communication. According to this hypothesis, behavior problems and verbal communicative acts, though differing in form, may be equivalent in function. Therefore, strengtheningthe latter should weakenthe former.