THE USE OF BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT TO PRESCRIBE AND EVALUATE TREATMENTS FOR SEVERELY HANDICAPPED CHILDREN

Authors


Division of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

Abstract

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.

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