Tag Archive for 'behavior analysis'

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Why animal research matters

In “Like a Rat: Animal research and your child’s behavior” that they penned for Slate, Alan Kazdin and Carlo Rotella explain why it is sensible to infer methods for modifying human behavior from research on rats, pigeons, and monkeys. They quite clearly show how what we know from systematic research on infra-human organisms applies to us, the magnificently complicated, subtle, and rational organisms—at least as we seem to see ourselves.

Psychologists who work with children and families tend to avoid mentioning to parents that the treatments they use are often based on research done on animals. It’s no secret that the widely used technique of the timeout was developed in studies on rats or that important early research leading to treatments for anxiety in humans was done on dogs, cats, and other species—but the subject doesn’t come up a lot in conversation. We will confess to doing our bit to perpetuate this professional shyness about animal research by tiptoeing around it….

If you, dear reader, have ever wondered why research about pressing levers or pecking disks matters for changing human behavior or have had someone ask you a question about the connection between research conducted in a laboratory with animals and learner performance, you should read Professors Kazdin’s and Rotella’s “Like a Rat: Animal research and your child’s behavior.”

By the by, it’s just one of many excellent pieces that they’ve published on Slate.

Iwata wkshop Sep. 09

Professor Brian Iwata, who has extensively studied functional behavior analysis, will conduct a two-day workshop entitled “Functional Analysis & Treatment of Severe Behavior Disorders” in Philadelphia (PA, US) on 28 – 29 September 2009. Psychologists may earn 11 CE credits, BCBAs & BCABAs 12 Type 2 CE credits. Walt Antonow, who manages these workshops, advised me that as of 2 Sep there were only 15 seats available, He has a brochure available.

Physical punishment repudiated

Over on 60-Second Science Blog, the news source of Scientific American, Karen Schrock reported that a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA) released a report recommending that caregivers eschew physical punishment. Ms. Schrock noted that at least one member of the task force disagreed with the recommendations, but that most members endorsed it.

Corporal punishment has long been a hotly debated subject, with conflicting study results and opposing ideologies feeding the fire. Now the results of a five-year effort to review the scientific literature are in: a task force appointed by the American Psychological Association concludes that “parents and caregivers should reduce and potentially eliminate their use of any physical punishment as a disciplinary measure.”
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Florida Autism conference

The Scott Center at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne (FL, US) will host its second annual conference on Autism 6 November 2009. The theme for this year is “Power and Potential of Communication,” and the featured speakers includ Mark Sundberg, Jim Carr, and Bridget Taylor.

Link to the conference Website and to the Scott Center.

Notes about reducing misbehavior

The recent discussions in the press and the US Congress about seclusion and restraint prompted me to draft these preliminary notes about alternatives that are available to school personnel. Generally, one does not need to resort to putting students in isolation or holding them to the ground.

Schools that employ evidence-based practices have a wealth of alternatives to physical seclusion or restraint. These methods range from plain, old good teaching to systematic analysis of the functions that misbehaviors serve. In the next few paragraphs, I present laconic descriptions of these.
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CNN discovers ABA

Over on CNN Linda Saether is a story about Rick Schroeder of Autism Partnership applying behavior analytic teaching principles to help Marissa Bilson and her family manage behavior problems. Marissa—an early adolescent who has Autism—screams while jumping up and down, bites herself, takes things that do not belong to her, and behaves ritualistically.

Although Ms. Saether does not report on the research basis for it and actually undercuts it’s effectiveness (ABA is “one kind of approach,” “there are a variety of programs out there,” etc.), the story illustrates the value of the clear rules that are consistently implemented. I’ll be using this one in class.

Here’s the link. Learn more about Autism Partnership. Note that Harold Doherty of Facing Autism in New Brunswick has covered this story, too.




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