• behavioral assessment;
  • self-injurious behavior;
  • assessment of reinforcer preference;
  • severely handicapped

Behavioral assessment procedures were used to prescribe and evaluate treatments of maladaptive behavior for 2 children with severe multiple handicaps. In Experiment 1, the results of an assessment of reinforcer preference were used in conjunction with a functional analysis of the conditions maintaining self-injurious behavior to prescribe a treatment for a child with severe disabilities. The treatment procedure involved the use of a pressure-sensitive microswitch to activate reinforcing stimuli during two solitary conditions, during which self-injurious behavior had occurred at high rates. The results were evaluated with a multiple baseline across settings design and indicated that self-injury decreased with concomitant increases in microswitch activation. Results were maintained at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, and 6 months. In Experiment 2, the results of behavioral assessments of reinforcer preference and self-injurious behavior were combined to develop a treatment for a second severely handicapped child, who exhibited high rates of self-injury in demand situations. This treatment was evaluated with a multiple baseline across tasks design and resulted in the elimination of self-injury for up to 15 months.