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Behavioral Symptoms and Strategies

If a child receives attention following a behavior problem, the caretaker should do their best to provide support strategically, being mindful of the safety.  Consistency is important because the behavior problem will continue if the child receives intermittent attention for the behavior; i.e., it will be more resistant to extinction if intermittently reinforced.

Behavioral strategies have been developed to provide a child with attention that is not contingent on the behavior problem. These strategies include:

  • Differential Reinforcement of Appropriate Behavior (DRA) – The child receives attention for an appropriate behavior, determined in advance. For example, if the child works on a predetermined task for a certain amount of time without engaging in the problem behavior, then he/she is given positive attention.
  • Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) – Attention is given to the child for any appropriate behavior. For example, if the child in general acts appropriately during a certain period of time without engaging in the problem behavior, then he/she is given positive attention.
  • Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible Behavior (DRI) – Attention is given to behaviors that are incompatible with the behavior problem. For example, if a child who is known to tantrum sits quietly for a certain amount of time, then he/she is given positive attention.
  • Functional analysis. It is important to analyze the function of the person’s behavior problem in order to determine whether it serves to get attention. or some other purpose, e.g., to avoid a demanding situation. The information obtained for functional analysis includes: Who was present? What happened before, during and after the behavior? When did it happen? Where did it happen?

Attention is important for social development, and it is natural for all children to seek attention from others.  Using supportive, positive strategies, developed in partnership with a skilled and compassionate behavioral treatment professional, may improve communication and help to lessen stress and anxiety for people with autism and their loved ones.

Presentation by Robyn Catagnus, E.D., BCBA-D and Bobbie Gallagher, PhD, BCBA

What is the #1, most important way to assess if autism treatment is working? If you are a parent, it will come as no surprise….Your child’s HAPPINESS. But many professionals simply don’t include happiness, quality of life, or well-being assessment in programs. Hear professional and personal advice for supporting happy, successful children with autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and related neurological differences. The presentation includes existing research, curricula, and strategies for measuring happiness, making ‘treatment’ more enjoyable, building relationships with kids, and creating programs that build on strengths.