Decreasing Self-injurious Behavior

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Decreasing Self-injurious Behavior Self-injurious behavior refers to repeated responses made by individuals that are directed toward themselves and result in tissue damage or physical harm. Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is found in some individuals with severe mental retardation, but it is a characteristic most often associated with multiple disabilities. Nevertheless, some children and youths with normal intelligence and language skills indulge in SIB. The intent usually is to injure themselves without killing themselves. Topographies of SIB include, but are not limited to: mouthing, hand biting, head banging, and skin tearing. The resultant injuries vary from mild abrasions to extensive scarring. Many different approaches to reducing SIB have been tried. No approach has been entirely successful, although some show better results than others. The major contribution to effective interventions for SIB has come from the field of applied behavior analysis. Interventions range from mildly intrusive to more drastic techniques such as electric shock. The focus of this paper will be on effective methods used for reducing self-injurious behavior. Differential Reinforcement When trying to decrease a behavior such as self-injury, the first question to ask yourself is, "What behavior can I increase?" It is important to find a functional, alternative behavior to reinforce which will stop or weaken the target behavior. A behavior is a functional alternative if it successfully serves the same function as the original behavior (Alberto & Troutman, 1991, p. 278). Differential reinforcement is the least intrusive alternative to decreasing undesirable behavior. There are four types of differential reinforcement: differential reinf... ... middle of paper ... .... (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. Marcus, B.A., Ringdahl, J.E., Roane, H.S., & Vollmer, T.R. (1997). An analogue evaluation of environmental enrichment: the role of stimulus preference. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30, 203-216. Schroeder, S.R., & Tarpley, H.D. (1979). Comparison of dro and dri on rate of suppression of self-injurious behavior. American Journal of Mental Deficiencies, 84, 188-194. Sweeney, W.J. (1989). Reduction of self-stimulatory/self-injurious behavior by an adolescent male labeled as emotionally and behaviorally disordered through the use of a dri procedure. Unpublished master's thesis, Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota. Tanner, B.A., & Zieler, M. (1975). Punishment of self-injurious behavior using aromatic ammonia as the aversive stimulus. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 8, 53-57.

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