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What Causes Negative Behaviors and What to do About Them. by Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA and Cindy A. Sundberg ( www.marksundberg.com). Common Negative Behaviors for Children with Autism. Looking away, non-responding, non-compliance Self-stim (rocking, mouthing objects, etc.)

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What causes negative behaviors and what to do about them
What Causes Negative Behaviors and What to do About Them

by

Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA

and

Cindy A. Sundberg

(www.marksundberg.com)


Common negative behaviors for children with autism
Common Negative Behaviors for Children with Autism

  • Looking away, non-responding, non-compliance

  • Self-stim (rocking, mouthing objects, etc.)

  • Falling to the floor

  • Running from adults

  • Climbing on tables, counters, bookcases, etc.

  • Screaming, yelling, loud noises, etc.


Common negative behaviors for children with autism1
Common Negative Behaviors for Children with Autism

  • Crying

  • Tantrums (combination of behaviors)

  • Property destruction

  • Hitting, pushing, biting, etc.

  • Self-injurious behaviors


Behavioral psychology can be a powerful tool to understand and change negative behaviors
Behavioral Psychology can be a powerful tool to understand and change negative behaviors

  • The three-term contingency (An ABC analysis)

    AntecedentBehaviorConsequence

    Child doesn’t want Runs from adults Delays going inside

    to come inside and gets chased


What causes negative behaviors
What Causes Negative Behaviors? and change negative behaviors

  • There are many possible causes of negative behaviors

  • The first task is to identify what is causing the specific behavior

  • Use the three-term contingency to identify the cause of a behavior

  • Define the behavior (start small--1 or 2 behaviors)

  • Identify the antecedents (the events before the behavior)

  • Identify the consequences (what happened after the behavior)

  • AntecedentBehaviorConsequence


What causes negative behaviors1
What Causes Negative Behaviors? and change negative behaviors

  • Many negative behaviors are caused by inadvertent reinforcement

  • Negative behaviors may get attention, reaction, reprimands, etc.

  • Negative behaviors may get access to reinforcers

  • Negative behavior may allow one to avoid undesirable activities


What causes negative behaviors2
What Causes Negative Behaviors? and change negative behaviors

  • Negative behavior may allow one to escape undesirable activities

  • Negative behavior may be fun (Self-stim, destruction, climbing)

  • Positive behaviors don’t have the same effect as above

  • No alternative skills to achieve the same reinforcer (Expressive language)


What is reinforcement
What is Reinforcement? and change negative behaviors

  • Reinforcement is anything that increases a behavior

  • Reinforcement can be getting good things (e.g., attention, toys, food)

  • Reprimands and negative attention can sometimes be reinforcers for kids

  • Reinforcement can be getting rid of bad things (e.g., demands, bedtime, putting on shoes)


What is reinforcement1
What is Reinforcement? and change negative behaviors

  • Reinforcement increases good and bad behavior

  • Most reinforcement occurs naturally and unplanned

  • Understanding how reinforcement works is essential to reducing negative behaviors



How to change negative behaviors
How to Change Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • First identify the cause and frequency of the behavior

  • Reinforcers are your behavior change tools: Identify and control them

  • Three parts to the intervention

  • Prevention (antecedent intervention)

  • Teach and reinforce (positive) replacement behaviors

  • Change the consequence after the problem behavior (reduce negative behavior)


Minor negative behaviors
Minor Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • Behavior: Loud voice, knocking things off the table, taking other’s toys for attention, fidgeting, whining, mild pouting, sulking, etc.

  • 1st step: Identify the cause using an ABC analysis: For example, seeking attention

  • Intervention:

  • 2nd step: Prevention: Identify high probability settings and time of problem behaviors, and re-schedule competing activities (e.g., phone calls, bill paying), plan activities that will engage the child


Minor negative behaviors1
Minor Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • 3rd step: Teach positive behavior: Reinforcement: Deliver reinforcement for appropriate behavior, on a consistent basis (e.g., 10-30 times per hour)

  • 4th step: Reduce negative behavior: Extinction: Ignore minor negative behaviors. Choose your battles wisely.


Attention seeking minor negative behaviors
Attention Seeking: reinforcementMinor Negative Behaviors

  • Other possible causes of minor negative behaviors

  • Weak expressive language

  • Provide mand training

  • Manding is asking for reinforcers with words, signs, or PECS

  • It is often very easy to teach a child to mand (see Sundberg & Partington, 1998)


Attention seeking minor negative behaviors1
Attention Seeking: reinforcementMinor Negative Behaviors

  • Other possible causes of minor negative behaviors

  • The curriculum is too hard, out of developmental sequence, or of little value to the child.

  • Use an assessment tool to identify a developmentally appropriate language and social skills curriculum


How to use reinforcement to reduce negative behaviors
How to use Reinforcement reinforcementto Reduce Negative Behaviors

  • Make sure you really have a reinforcer

  • Deliver the reinforcer immediately after good behavior

  • Set up lots of opportunities for good/correct behavior (Don’t just wait for them)

  • Use a variety of reinforcers

  • Deliver some reinforcers free (pairing)


How to use reinforcement to reduce negative behaviors1
How to use Reinforcement reinforcementto Reduce Negative Behaviors

  • Smile, be sincere, laugh, goof around, have fun with your child

  • Some kids will require lots of reinforcers per hour (30-50)

  • Engagement usually is reinforcing!

  • Lack of reinforcement for positive behavior may increase negative behavior


Examples of reinforcers that many children like
Examples of Reinforcers that Many Children Like reinforcement

  • Social/physical reinforcers: attention, smiles, hugs, praise, funny faces, high fives, tickling, rough housing, chasing clapping hands, praise, a good laugh together, thumbs up, pats on the back, etc.

  • Activity reinforcers: playing a game, going to the park, reading a book together, pushes on a swing, riding a bike, wagon rides, swimming, adventures, put up a tent in the yard, watching a DVD, helping cook, etc.

  • Material reinforcers: food, drink, toys, bubbles, balloons, crayons, musical toys, playdough, cars, sand play, etc.


Ignoring bad behavior extinction
Ignoring Bad Behavior: Extinction reinforcement

  • Be prepared for an extinction burst

  • Eye contact is often attention (reinforcement)

  • Don’t show facial reactions

  • Don’t argue, scold or talk (attention)

  • Don’t show anger (attention)

  • Act absorbed in some other activity, walk away

  • Give your child attention shortly after the bad behavior stops


More serious negative behaviors
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • Behavior: Tantrum, hitting, throwing, scratching, falling to the floor, etc.

  • 1st step: identify the cause of the behavior for that child

  • Some possible causes: Adult demand (e.g., go to bed, eat at the table, academic work), remove/denial of reinforcers (turn off TV, come inside, can’t have desired activity)

  • OFTEN, THE CHILD HAS LEARNED THAT NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR WILL REMOVE OR DELAY A TEACHER’S OR PARENT’S DEMANDS


More serious negative behaviors1
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • 2nd step: Prevention, expressive language training, and curriculum change

  • 3rd step: Intervention: Teach positive behavior

  • 4th step: Intervention: Weaken negative behavior


More serious negative behaviors2
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • 2nd step: Prevention

  • Identify high probability problem areas

  • Initially avoid demands that compete with powerful motivators

  • Verbally prepare the child if possible

  • Use “if-then” contingency for more verbal children

  • Take activities and reinforcers to Drs office, store, airplane or car trips, friends houses, etc.


More serious negative behaviors3
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • Ask for the same behavior under less “high probability” times, and reinforce

  • Break demand into small steps and reinforce each step

  • Make your expectations clear, and be consistent

  • Reinforce approximations

  • Establish time limits for reinforcers

  • Use extra time as reinforcers for no tantrums


More serious negative behaviors4
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • Step 3: Teach the positive behaviors

  • Obtain the most powerful reinforcers for that child

  • Carefully control and deliver those reinforcers after positive behaviors

  • However, periodically deliver free reinforcers (pairing)

  • Create a hierarchy of demands beginning with the simplest tasks (“clap hands” might be an easy demand)

  • Provide lots of opportunities for the child to comply and be successful


More serious negative behaviors5
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • Gradually increase the demand, always reinforce

  • Work in short sets of demands throughout the day

  • Work in all environments

  • Transfer control to other adults (generalization)

  • Gradually begin to include high problem area demands (e.g., giving up reinforcers)

  • Occasionally give back the reinforcer when given up

  • Always end the interaction on a positive note


More serious behaviors and noncompliance
More Serious Behaviors and reinforcementNoncompliance

  • 4th step: Weaken the negative behavior

  • Extinction: Do not remove the demand

  • Follow through with the demand

  • Be prepared for an extinction burst

  • Make your expectations clear

  • Caution: Removing the demand will make the problem worse


More serious negative behaviors6
More Serious Negative Behaviors reinforcement

  • Make sure negative behavior DOES NOT get reinforced in any way

  • Do not promise reinforcers for stopping

  • Do not show reinforcers when engaging in negative behaviors

  • Do not try and “talk a child down” (reinforcement)

  • Be calm, firm and non-emotional. Do not get caught up in an argument or power struggle


Be organized and plan ahead to be more effective
Be Organized and Plan Ahead to be More Effective reinforcement

  • Anticipate your child’s needs before his bad behavior forces you to meet his needs

  • Avoid situations that you think might make the child irritable (e.g., staying out past their bedtime, shopping for a long time)

  • Start your program in an environment that you can control (not at church, in a store, etc.)

  • Teach others who work with the child how to use these behavioral techniques


Summary
Summary reinforcement

  • Most negative behavior is learned behavior

  • Use the four steps to reduce a negative behavior

  • 1st step: Use the three-term contingency to identify what causes the behavior

  • 2nd step: Prevent behavior problems (Change the task or demand levels, increase prompts, increase reinforcers for approximations)

  • 3rd step: Actively teach positive behaviors and continue to build on them

  • Identify a wide variety of reinforcers and frequently deliver them for good behavior


Summary1
Summary reinforcement

  • 4th step: Change the existing consequences for negative behavior

  • Negative behavior often gets reinforced more often than positive behavior

  • Don’t reinforce the problem behavior

  • Ignore minor misbehavior

  • Change is often gradual

  • Learn as much as you can about Behavior Analysis, it is a powerful tool for improving the lives of children with autism and their families


Thank you
Thank You! reinforcement

For an electronic version of this presentation visit:

www.marksundberg.com


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