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Keywords:

  • functional analysis;
  • negative reinforcement;
  • autism

The results obtained from two consecutive functional analyses conducted with a 6-year-old child with autism are described. In the initial functional analysis, the highest rates of problem behavior occurred in the play condition. In that condition, the delivery of attention appeared to occasion problem behaviors. A second functional analysis was conducted wherein an escape from attention condition and a tangible condition were added. In the second functional analysis, higher rates of responding were observed in the escape from attention and tangible conditions. The results suggested that problem behavior was maintained by negative reinforcement in the form of escape from attention and positive reinforcement in the form of gaining access to preferred tangible items. Problem behavior was treated using functional communication training combined with noncontingent reinforcement.