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Signs of Damage: Laboratory Roots, Assessment, & Treatment

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  1. Signs of Damage:Laboratory Roots, Assessment, & Treatment Eb Blakely, Ph.D., BCBA-D Quest, Inc. & Florida Institute of Technology

  2. Signs of Damage: Skinner • From "Contingencies of Reinforcement" • Page 51: "The principle also holds for aggressive behavior. At a time when men were often plundered and killed, by animals and other men, it was important that any behavior which harmed or frightened predators should be quickly learned and long sustained. Those who were most strongly reinforced by evidences of damage to others should have been most likely to survive." • Page 129: "A person who is at the moment aggressive is one who, among other characteristics, shows a heightened probability of behaving verbally or nonverbally in such a way that someone is damaged..." • Page 195: "Azrin, for example, has studied the stereotyped, mutually aggressive behavior evoked when two organisms receive brief electric shocks. But he and his associates have also demonstrated that the opportunity to engage in such behavior functions as a reinforcer and, as such, may be used to shape an indefinite number of "aggressive" operants of arbitrary topographies. Evidence of damage to others may be reinforcing for phylogenic reasons because it is associated with competitive survival. Competition in the current environment may make it reinforcing for ontogenic reasons."

  3. Signs of Damage: Stimuli • What stimuli are involved? • Visual stimuli – blood, bruising, scratches, “upset” expressions • Auditory stimuli – crying, screaming, reports of harm or ill fortune • Damage to environment • Response produced stimuli – pressure on teeth, pressure on hands/feet

  4. Early Non-Human Research • Shock “elicited” fighting • Subjects: Rats • Procedure: Rats exposed to shock • Measure: # of episodes of fighting • Aggression was called “reflexive” • Results: Most shocks evoked fighting

  5. Early Non-Human Research • Shock “elicited” biting of inanimate objects • Subjects: Rats • Procedure: Rats exposed to shock • Measure: # of episodes of biting of metal, wood, or rubber targets

  6. Human Application • Pain may evoke aggression reinforced by signs of damage • Headache • Dental work • Aggression to perpetrator

  7. Early Non-Human Research • Aggression associated withschedules of reinf • Subjects: Pigeons • Procedure: Ss exposed to FR 50 • Measure: # attacks to target pigeon • Results: Most attacks occurred after reinforcer offset

  8. Early Non-Human Research • What kind of target is most often attacked? • Subjects: Pigeons • Procedure: Ss exposed to FR 80-120 • Measure: # attacks to target (Mirror, Live protected, Stuffed)

  9. Early Non-Human Research • Biting as a function of FR size • Subjects: Squirrel monkeys • Procedure: Ss exposed to FR schedules (50-200) • Measure: # bites of a rubber hose • Results: Most biting occurred after reinforcer offset as a function of ratio size

  10. Early Non-Human Research • Biting during extinction of responding

  11. Human Application • Reinforcer offset: Leaving reinforcement programs • Large work requirements with tiny reinforcers!

  12. Early Non-Human Research • Opportunity to Aggress: Is it a reinforcer? • Subjects: Pigeons • Procedure: 1) FI schedule for food and 2) 2nd key pecks  access to a target pigeon

  13. Recent Non-Human Research • Opportunity to Aggress: Is it a reinforcer? • Subjects: Mice • Procedure: Intruder mouse presented after completion of FR 8 vs Ext • Results: Concurrent food schedule not needed Go

  14. Human Application • “I just want to break something!!” • Seeking out targets • Animal abuse

  15. Summary • Aversive stimuli will evoke aggression • Shock • Reinforcement offset • Work requirements • Heat • Strikes to body • The opportunity to aggress will function as a reinforcer for behavior • Most likely occurs when aversive stimuli are present • May occur without “motivators”

  16. Conclusions • Aggression evoked by aversive stimuli is not “reflexive” • If operant, what reinforces it? • Signs of damage (cf Skinner): cowering, crying, blood, running away • Pressure on body part used to attack (e.g., teeth, fists) • How do we talk about this? • Signs of damage-related stimuli may be naturally reinforcing in some species, or some members of a species • EO s may be aversive events, schedules of reinforcement, and reinforcement termination. • We should address this in behavioral assessment and Tx

  17. Implications • Standard Functional Analyses • Unclear results • But naturalistic observations suggested that attention was a factor, but attention was given in loud, emotionally-charged bouts David M. Richman and Louis P. Hagopian

  18. Implications • Idiosyncratic Conditions in Functional Analysis • Exaggerated Attention: “dramatic reaction to Tim’s destructive behaviors that included a high level of voice intonation, verbal phrases such as “I can’t believe that you just did that,” and physical signs of displeasure such as waving his/her hands frantically. “

  19. Case #1 • Functional analysis: property destruction • Throwing items/tipping chairs increased when mom reacted “frustrated” or “aggravated” compared to neutral reprimands. • Put audio of mom on iPad for free time

  20. Case Study#2 • Descriptive assessment information • Engages in SIB (arm scratching, and picking) during free time that produces blood • Engages in aggression when denied access • Looks for bruising/cuts after aggression • Engages in property destruction when denied access • Carefully looks at the item • Mands for item to break!

  21. Case Study #2

  22. Reinforcer Assessment: Conc FR 1 (Finger + blood) FR 1 (Finger only) Case Study #2

  23. Case Study #2 Program • Tx elements • Replacement skill: • Select alternatives when denied access • Waiting • Fade in work requirements • VR instead of FR schedules • Mand for delay of reinforcer offset • Calendar of when events will occur • Extinction? Withhold signs of damage • Wear long sleeves during sessions • Punishment – loss of items/activities/contingent brisk walking

  24. Implications for Tx and Assessment Go Go • Behavior Assessment • Preference assessments • Standard preference assessments with signs of damage stimuli • Preference assessments in presence of aversive stimuli • Interviews should address this • Functional analyses with signs of damage • Cowering targets • “Upset” caregivers • Contingent property destruction • Objects to hit/bite

  25. Implications for Tx and Assessment • Programmatic Procedures • Antecedent manipulations • Replacement skills • Concurrent schedules of reinforcement for appropriate behavior • Reduction procedures • Medications Go

  26. Function: Signs of Damage Sample Program • Antecedent Manipulations • Remove target - When sister hits James, separate • Remove target during work requirements - Keep sister away from James when he is engaged in chores • Frequent physical games & exercise • Have potential targets do pairing Review Article

  27. Function: Signs of Damage Sample Program • Acquisition Skills • Requests for physical activity • Leaving reinforcement • Use large magnitude reinforcers • Waiting programs • Slowly increase wait time • Use variable time requirements vs fixed • Especially consider waiting in divided attention situations • Task completion • Slowly increase response requirements • Use large magnitude reinforcers • Consider VR instead of FR schedules

  28. Function: Signs of Damage SampleProgram • Multiple schedules • Alternate situations when reinforcers are available with those in which they are not • Reduction Procedures • Removal of targets • Extinction: Withhold signs of damage if possible • Punishment? • Side effects! Punishment maybe an EO for further signs of damage maintained aggression

  29. Extensions to Behavior Analytic Concepts • “Extinction-induced” aggression – is it “reflexive?” • Extinction as EO for signs of damage-related stimuli • Side effects of punishment: aggression! • Punishment stimuli as EO for signs of damage-related stimuli

  30. Future Research Questions • Preference assessments with and without aversive stimuli • Denied access to preferred stimuli • Leaving reinforcement • Task presentation • Inclusion of signs of damage-related stimuli in standard functional analysis • Typical attention vs “upset” caregiver • Sight of blood and or bruising • Sight/sound of property destruction

  31. Questions???

  32. Implications (continued) • Structured Interview Questions • Does the person seek out items to break? • Does the person seek out blood or injury? • After aggression, does the person attempt to see the injuries of the victim? • Does the behavior occur when denied access to items/activities, even though they have not been given after the behavior? • Does the person aggress after consuming a reinforcer for which he/she had to work hard? • Does the person seem to enjoy seeing others upset? • Does the person tend to throw objects when denied access to items/activities? Return

  33. Aggression as a Built-in Reinforcer • BettaSplendens Return

  34. Aggression as a Built-in Reinforcer Round 1

  35. Preference Assessments Task  Assess Free time  Assess Denied access  Assess Free access  Assess Return

  36. Return Effects of Exercise: ASD Participants