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Timothy Vollmer, Ph.D., BCBA-D Presented at the 2015 Michigan Autism Conference
Abstract: When problem behavior such as self-injury, tantrums, aggression, or property destruction occur, observers often lament, “The behavior seems to occur for no reason; it just comes out of nowhere.” The actual scientific evidence on severe problem behavior suggests that more often than not, the behavior is quite predictable and orderly. The presenter reviews five groups of evidence to suggest that problem behavior is predictable and orderly: 1. During a functional analysis, it tends to occur under certain conditions and not others, 2. The “matching law” almost perfectly predicts the occurrence of behavior, 3. The behavior stops when it is no longer reinforced, 4. The behavior stops when the motivation to engage in behavior is removed, and 5. Alternative and less dangerous forms of behavior can be readily shaped to replace problem behavior. Based on this information, the presenter outlines a model for behavioral assessment and intervention.