- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
- A Brief Explanation of Discrete Trial Training
- Applied Behavior Analysis: A Focus on Outcomes
- A Challenge to Reframe our Thinking About Behavior
- Concerning Consequences: What Do I Do When...?
- Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
- Don't Forget About Self Management
- Ever Had a Crisis Kind of Day?
- Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities
- Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism: an Impetus to Re-Examine Behavioral Issues
- Observing Behavior Using A-B-C Data
- Positive Behavior Supports Creating Meaningful Life Options for People with ASD
- Ten Steps Towards Supporting Appropriate Behavior
- The Challenge of Combining Competing Input in the Classroom
- "Your Attitude Just Might Be My Biggest Barrier"
- Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining
- Tips for Choosing a Provider for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- What to Consider When Looking for a Qualified ABA Provider
- Assessment Day: Questions About the Communication Development of Your Young Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- “If They Could Only Tell Me What They Are Thinking.” The Need for Augmentative Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions
- Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?
- Comprehension of the Message: Important Considerations for Following Directions
- First Steps and the Journey to a Diagnosis of ASD for a Child under Three
- Functional Categories of Delayed Echolalia
- Functional Categories of Immediate Echolalia
- Initial Guidelines for Developing a Communication Intervention Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Significant Limitations in Communication Ability
- Long and Short Term Strategies for Reducing Specific Repetitive Questions
- Successfully Using PECS with Children with ASD
- Meeting the Challenge of Social Pragmatics with Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Opportunity to Communicate: A Crucial Aspect of Fostering Communication Development
- Reading with Your School-Age Child: Building Vocabulary One Word at a Time
- Social Communication and Language Characteristics Associated with High Functioning, Verbal Children and Adults with ASD
- The 21st Century Speech Language Pathologist and Integrated Services in Classrooms
- The High Functioning Person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A "Tourist" in His Native Country
- The Role of the School Speech Language Pathologist and the Student with Autism
- Using a Visual Support to Enhance WH Question
- Visual Resources for Enhancing Communication for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities
- Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions
- Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
- What is the Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS?
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- PICO - A Decision Making Tool For Selecting Apps
- Helping Your Child to Develop Communication Skills
- Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Communication and Social Intervention
- Important Predictors
- The Use of Technology in Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Teaming
- Educational Programming
- Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Advice from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teachers Regarding Literacy Instruction
- Advice for Peer Tutors
- Applying the Ziggurat and CAPS Model in Your School District
- Aspects of Support for Learning
- A Young Adult's Guide to Deep Breathing as a Relaxation Technique: A Personalized Fact Sheet
- Can Schedule Usage Training Include Elements of Literacy Instruction?
- Clean Up Your Act! Creating an Organized Classroom Environment for Students on the Spectrum.
- Change is Good! Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum when Introducing Novelty
- Classroom Choreography: The Art of Scheduling Staff and Students
- Complexities of Instructional Support
- Creating a Circle of Support
- Critical Features of Early Intervention: Merging Best Practices
- Developing Long Term Relationships Between School and Parents
- Early Intervention for Young Children on the Autism spectrum: Parent’s Perspective
- Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
- Establishing Long Term Goals: What Are We Hoping to Achieve
- For General Education Teachers: Helpful Questions to Ask About Students with ASD
- Get Engaged: Designing Instructional Activities to Help Students Stay On-Task
- "Ham It Up and Get It Cookin!!" Thoughts From Dr. Greenspan
- Home-School Communication
- "I Can Do It Myself!" Using Work Systems to Build Independence in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- “I Wake Up for MY Dream!” Personal Futures Planning Circles of Support, MAPS and PATH
- Life After High School...So Now What
- Literacy Resources
- Lovaas Revisited: Should We Have Ever Left?
- Making the Most of Morning Meeting
- Motivating Students Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Moving from Preschool to Kindergarten: Planning for a Successful Transition and New Relationships
- Peer Support Programs
- Promoting the Educational Success of Students with Autism: The Role of the Parent-Staff Relationship
- Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
- Practical Steps to Writing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: And Writing Them Well
- Practical Recommendations for Utilizing a Range of Instructional Approaches in General Education Settings
- Recognizing Different Types of Readers with ASD
- Reframing Our Thinking and Getting to Know the Child
- Restricted Repertoires in Autism and What We Can Do About It
- School Cultures that Support Students Across the Autism Spectrum
- Service Learning: Something to Think About
- Supporting Staff Using Coaching Model
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome
- Teaching Students Who Are Low-Functioning: Who Are They and What Should We Teach?
- Theory of Mind in Autism: Development, Implications, and Intervention
- There is No Place Called Inclusion
- The Road to Post-Secondary Education: Questions to Consider
- Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism
- Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education
- Transition: Preparing for a Lifetime
- Transition to Middle School
- Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another
- Understanding the Design and Power of a Personal Schedule
- Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents
- Who Are We Working for Anyway? Avoiding Personal Agendas at Meetings to Better Support Individuals Across the Autism Spectrum
- Structured Teaching Strategies: A Series
- Growing Up Together
- How to Open A Combination Lock/Locker
- Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through Postsecondary Transition
- Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Implementation and Effectiveness of Using Video Self-Modeling with Students with ASD
- Video Self-Modeling How To and Examples
- Advocates: Qualities to Look for and Choosing the Correct One for YOU
- Considering an Overnight Camp Program for your Child on the Autism Spectrum?
- Finding or Starting a Support Group
- Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
- Selected Bibliography for Families of People within the Autism Spectrum
- Selected National Resources for Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Selected Resources for Understanding and Supporting Siblings
- Setting the Stage for Parent-Professional Collaboration
- Siblings Perspectives: Some Guidelines for Parents
- What About the Dads?
- When Your Child is Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Son/Daughter Might Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- For Parents: Preparing for the School Year
- Self Help/Medical
- Teaching a Young Man to Shave
- An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The "M" Word
- Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads
- Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite:
- Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist
- Teaching a Young Woman to Shave
- Anxiety and Panic Struggles
- Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Having THE Talk with Your Child with ASD
- General Information
- Assessment Processes for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Purpose and Procedures
- Autism Awareness Month: Facts and Tips for Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder
- Disability Information for Someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Customized Example
- Getting Started: Introducing Your Child to His or Her Diagnosis of Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Increasing Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Continues in Indiana
- Standardized Tests and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Article 7, Title 511
- What’s in a Name: Our Only Label Should Be Our Name: Avoiding the Stereotypes
- For Physicians: Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders and Working with Schools
- Behavioral Issues and the Use of Social Stories
- How to “Lose the Training Wheels:” A New Way to Teach Bicycle Riding
- Living in Fear: Anxiety in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Local Community Resources to Enhance Activities
- Making (and Keeping) Friends: A Model for Social Skills Instruction
- Making Camps Accessible for All
- Play in the Lives of Young Children with Autism
- Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Social Activity Groups: Another Approach for Helping to Bridge the Friendship Gap
- Teaching Social Skills through Theatre
- The Collective Outcomes of School-Based Social Skill Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum
- The Value of Movement Activities for Young Children
- We All Need Exercise
- Finding a Friend in School
- Bullying and Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Articles by Temple Grandin
- An Inside View of Autism
- Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome
- Evaluating the Effects of Medication
- Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism
- Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work
- Social Problems: Understanding Emotions and Developing Talents
- Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism
Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
Contributed by: Rachel Loftin, Graduate Assistant
Though my pet birds have not created a formal behavior plan for me, they do a wonderful job of using consequences to increase the behaviors that they want me to do more often and to reduce the frequency of those behaviors they would rather I did not do. They have learned to elicit certain behaviors from me by using different consequences. If two cockatiels can use consequences to increase desired behavior and to decrease undesired behavior, just think how successful you will be!
I use the example of my cockatiels to explain four types of consequences, while including suggestions for using consequences when working with students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
When I left the house once, I said, “Bye, Gerta. Bye, Simon”. The cockatiels each gave a small chirp in reply. I thought it was very cute that my pets were communicating with me. So cute, in fact, that I do not leave the house anymore without talking to the birds. Their little chirps increased the likelihood of my saying goodbye when I leave the house in the future.
The consequences (chirping) to my words were positive reinforcers. Simon and Gerta used positive reinforcement, which is the addition of something to the environment that makes a behavior more likely to occur. If the birds had not responded when I spoke to them, I would never have started saying “goodbye” on a consistent basis.
Positive reinforcement is especially effective. However, if not used carefully, it and other consequences can have unintended effects on behavior. Allie, for example, is an adorable and energetic six-year old student with ASD who loves to hear others clap their hands. To reinforce sitting behavior in the classroom, Allie’s teacher decided to clap her hands and say “Nice sitting!” when Allie was quietly seated during instructional periods. The first time the teacher clapped and said “Nice sitting!” Allie stood up and walked to the window. Each time her teacher tried to positively reinforce sitting behavior, Allie stood up. Over time, Allie began to spend less time in her seat.
Clearly, clapping and saying “Nice sitting!” is not a positive reinforcer for Allie’s sitting behavior because it does not make sitting more likely to occur. Even when consequences are things that a child normally enjoys, if they do not increase the likelihood of the desired behavior, they are not positive reinforcers. In Allie’s case, the teacher’s consequences for sitting became punishment because they actually made sitting less likely to occur.
Conversely, seemingly negative events can be positively reinforcing. For example, when a student engages in attention-seeking behavior, yelling or other traditionally negative consequences can make a behavior more likely to occur. Tim illustrates a common example of this phenomenon. One day Tim kicked another student. As a consequence, the teacher pulled him aside and spoke to him at length about why he should not kick others. After the lecture, Tim was required to sit next to the teacher. Over time, Tim began to kick more often. Tim now knows that he will receive individual attention from his teacher when he kicks other students. Even though the teacher is upset and unsmiling, Tim seeks this attention. The consequences (in this case, negative attention) have become positively reinforcing for Tim’s kicking behavior.
For students across the autism spectrum, verbally requesting attention may be challenging or impossible. Engaging in disruptive or aggressive behaviors that elicit attention from a teacher or other adult may be a much easier alternative.
When a new feather grows on a cockatiel, it is covered by a plastic-like casing and can be quite painful for the bird when touched. While petting my cockatiels, they let me know when I have hit a sensitive area by screeching. This unpleasant noise lets me know quite clearly that I must quit what I am doing. Because I do not like the noise, I am less likely to pet the new, plastic-like feathers in the future. Screeching is effective punishment because it makes my undesired behavior (petting the new feathers) less likely to occur in the future.
Positive punishment involves adding something to the environment that makes the behavior less likely to occur. In this case, the birds used screeching to reduce the frequency of my new feather petting behavior.
Though my birds found positive punishment to be highly effective, they would have had even more success with positive reinforcement alone. Research indicates that interventions using positive reinforcement are more effective than those using positive punishment. Positive punishments like yelling have no place in a behavior plan for students with ASD. The only exception to this rule is when the child is in danger. If a student is about to run into the street, a firm “NO!” may save his life. The novelty of the sound may stop him in his tracks. If a student is often spoken to in loud, harsh voices, however, he becomes immune to such an approach and is unlikely to respond in an emergency.
Sometimes the birds want my attention when I am busy with something else. They yell for me. Having heard this sound many times, I realize that it will quit when I enter the room and open their cage. The longer I ignore the yelling, the louder it gets. When I can’t take it anymore, I let the birds out of their cage and the yelling stops. Not only have the birds used negative reinforcement to escape the cage, but also I have positively reinforced their yelling by entering the room and releasing them from their cage!
Negative reinforcement is the removal of an undesired stimulus when the target behavior occurs. I hate to hear the yelling and will gladly engage in the desired behavior to put it to an end. An obvious example of negative reinforcement is the beeping noise that the car makes when first started. The noise ceases when the driver’s seat belt is buckled. The driver escapes the annoying beeping noise, and is thus more likely to quickly fasten her seatbelt in future situations.
Spoiled beyond belief, Simon and Gerta demand my full attention when they are out of the cage and riding on my shoulder. They don’t like it if I am reading a book or talking on the phone while they are perched on me. Though the birds may be cuddling quite sweetly when they have my full attention, as soon as I begin to read or speak to a friend, they will back away from me. By backing away from me, the birds remove something I enjoy (cuddles) in order to make my distracted behavior less likely to occur.
Negative punishment is the removal of a desired event that makes an undesired behavior less likely to occur. Grounding is an often-used example of negative punishment. Parents hope that loss of fun privileges will result in lower rates of staying out past curfew.
Hopefully, these anecdotes illustrate how consequences shape behavior, even when the individual issuing the consequences has little or no knowledge of behavioral techniques. Behavior change happens constantly, whether intended or not. Deliberate use of consequences can help create lasting, positive change in the behavior of students with autism spectrum disorders.
Loftin, R. (2002). Consequences, behavior, and my birds. The Reporter, 8(1), 16-18.