A Comparison of Procedures to Reduce Self-Abusive Behavior in an Institutionalized Male
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The Problem. The existence of self-abusive behavior among mentally retarded individuals is a continuing challenge for those who work with them. Several treatment techniques are available for reducing or eliminating such behaviors. Adversive stimuli such as shock or aromatic ammonia capsules have proven effective in eliminating self-abusive behaviors. Most settings do not allow the use of aversive stimuli without first exhausting less intrusive possibilities. One of these, overcorrection, has reduced self-stimulatory behaviors. In the present study three self-abusive responses were measured. Later one response was consequated while the other two remained in baseline. Procedure. Sessions were held in several settings within the hospital. One female Psychiatric Tecbnician and one female Laboratory Technician acted as data collectors on alternate days. Three responses were recorded: striking fist to forehead, knee to forehead and head banging. Six experimental conditions were used: Baseline I, Positive Practice Overcorrection, Baseline II, Cold Water Squirt I, Baseline III, and Cold Water Squirt II. Reliability was measured ten times and averaged 98%. Findings. Fist to forehead responses decreased during treatment. Knee to forehead responses also decreased as did head banging. Conclusions. Both positive practice overcorrection and a squirt of water to the cheek reduced the rate of fist to forehead responses. Response generalization was demonstrated with knee to forehead and head banging during both overcorrection and squirt bottle conditions.
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