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Autism Rocks



Information compiled and presented by Rick Newton  2/99
 503 463-5587

 The DSM - what is it?
Behaviorism's Legacy
 A Rebuttal to Behaviorism
Are We Listening?


Antecedent:     Cue, setting event and/or environmental situation that influences behavior.

Behavior:         Any observable and/or measurable action.

Behavioral Deficit:  The behavior isn't happening at all,  not frequently enough or it doesn't happen well enough.

Behavioral Excess: There is too much behavior, it is too forceful and/or it lasts too long.

Behavioral Objective: A specific goal defined in terms of observable and measurable actions.

Consequence: Feedback following a behavior that increase or decrease a behavior occurrence.

Criteria:  Level of acceptable performance involving rate, intensity, distance, etc.

Cue: Signal, request or event that can or does influence the occurrence of a behavior.

Differential Reinforcement
of Alternative Behavior: (DRA)  Reinforcement provided for any response other than the targeted behavior.

Differential Reinforcement
of Incompatible Behavior:   (DRI)  Reinforcement of a specific behavior which cannot
occur simultaneously with the targeted behavior.

Differential Reinforcement
of Other Behavior:  (DRO)  Increasing the density of reinforcement in general.

Environment: Something that surrounds; surroundings.  The combination of conditions that affect growth.

Functional Analysis:  A measurable description of the behavior, a description of the need to alter the behavior, an assessment of the meaning of the behavior, a description of conditions that precede and consequence that follow the behavior and measurable
procedures to alter the behavior.

General Adaptation Syndrome: The fight or  flight response that results from perceived threats to well being.

Negative Punishment: The removal of an object, activity or condition that decreases behavior.

Negative Reinforcement: The removal of an object, activity or condition that increases behavior.

Operant Behavior:  A behavior that is mostly controlled by consequences.

Positive Punishment: The presentation of an object, activity or condition that decreases behavior.

Positive Reinforcement: The presentation of an object, activity or condition that increase or maintains behavior.

Premack Principle: Utilizing one behavior to reinforce another (e.g.. first we work, then we play)

Primary Reinforcement: Reinforcement that satisfy biological needs.

Punishment: A consequence that decreases that probability of a behaviors occurrence.

Reinforcement: Consequences that increase or maintain behavior.

Respondent Behavior: Behavior that is not controlled by conscious intent.

Setting Events: Things that happen early in time that change the likelihood or intensity of a given behavior.

Shaping: Accepting of approximate responses as correct with the ultimate aim of requiring the precise correct response.

Social Reinforcement: Learned reinforcement such as praise, pats on the back, high fives, etc.

Stimulus: Any event, action or object that is perceived by the organism.

Stimulus Control: Behaving in a manner that is consistent with the environment (e.g., being quiet in a library)

Stimulus Transfer: Pairing a stimulus with one or more new stimuli and gradually fading the initial stimulus.

Suppression Effects: Fear reactions,   aggressive   reactions, stereotyped reactions, escape behaviors, imitation effects, etc. which result from the use of punishment.

Systematic Desensitization: Finding the smallest tolerable value of an antecedent  and gradually increasing its strength while rewarding non response.

Task Analysis: A behavioral objective with sequenced steps used to teach the objective and a data collection procedure.



Although there is no single definition of mental disorder the concept is described as follows in the DMS-IV: "a clinically significant behavior or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress
(e.g., painful symptom) or disability (e.g., impairment in one or more areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or important loss of freedom.”

The DSM recommends that the individuals mental state be examined and evaluated with regard to five factors or dimensions (called axis in the manual). The five axis evaluation is intended to provide comprehensive and useful information. Axis I, II, and III
deal with the individuals present mental and medical condition. Axis IV and V provide additional information regarding the person's life situation and functioning.

AXIS I - Clinical syndromes and other conditions that may be the focus of clinical conditions (except those included in axis II). If an individual has more than one mental disorder they are all listed. The principle disorder is listed first.

AXIS II - Mental retardation and personality disorders. It is possible to have an axis II disorder and not have an axis I disorder. If more than one condition is present, they are all listed.

AXIS III - Relevant physical disorders. Any medical conditions that are relevant to understanding and treating the person.

AXIS IV - Psycho social stressors. These factors are included by the clinician if they have been present in the last year or if they occurred before the previous year and are clearly contributing to the disorder.

AXIS V - Level of adaptive functioning. The clinician provides a rating of the psychological, social, and occupational functioning. A 100 point scale is used with 1 indicating severe impairment in functioning and 100 referring to superior functioning with no symptoms.

NOTE: The DSM has been the primary classification system for the diagnosis of mental disorders in the United States and is increasingly becoming the international model. There have been five versions. What is sometimes called a paradigm shift occurred in
1980 when the publication of DSM III signaled a change from a psycho-dynamic to a neuro-scientific model.



The predominant view in the current literature of behavioral support for individuals with developmental disabilities is that of behaviorism. The following quotes are gathered from the "founding fathers" of American behaviorism.

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select  - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief, and, yes,
even beggar man and thief regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors."

“My colleagues are constantly manipulating stimuli, dangling this, that, and the other combination in front of the human being in order to determine the reactions they will bring forth - hoping the reaction will be in line with progress.

“The interest of the behaviorist in man's doings is more than the interest of the spectator - he wants to control man's reactions as the physical scientists want to control and manipulate other natural phenomena"

- John B. Watson, Behaviorism

"What a fascinating thing! Total control of a living organism!"

"A scientific view of man offers exciting possibilities. We have not yet seen what man can make of man."

"There is no place in a scientific analysis of behavior for a mind or self."

"It (the literature of freedom) is unprepared for the next step, which is not to free men from control but to analyze and change the kinds of control to which they are exposed."

"When two people meet, one of them is nice to the other and that predisposes the other to be nice to him, and that makes the other even more likely to be nice. It goes back and forth, and it may reach the point at which they are highly disposed to do nice
 things to the other and not to hurt. And that I suppose is what would be called being in love."

"To make a value judgment by calling something good or bad is to classify it in terms of its reinforcing effects.... The only good things are positive reinforcers and the only bad things are negative reinforcers."

"A mother is simply a fertilized egg's way of making more fertilized eggs."

- B.F. Skinner    Various Sources



"Rewards simply control through seduction rather than force. In. the final analysis, they are no less controlling since, like punishments, they are typically used to pressure people to do things they would not freely do."

"All rewards by virtue of being rewards, are not attempts to influence or persuade or solve problems together, but simply to control."

"If as a matter of principle, we would like to see disparities in power minimized whenever possible, we already have a reason to turn away from applied behaviorism."

"Rewards are not solutions at all: they are gimmicks, shortcuts, quick fixes that mask problems and ignore reasons. They never look below the surface."

“Reinforcements do not generally alter the attitudes and emotional commitments that underline behaviors. They do not make lasting changes because they are aimed at affecting only what we do."

"In principle, behavioral interventions exclude from consideration the factors that may matter most. In practice, behavioral interventions distract those who use them from attending to such factors."

"The depravation of self-determination helps explain the damage that extrinsic motivators do."

"It (praise) sustains a dependence on our evaluation, our decisions about what is good and bad, rather than helping them to began to form their own judgments."

"The managers job then is not to motivate people to achieve; instead, the manager should provide opportunities for people to achieve so they will be motivated."

 Alfie Kohn

"It is better not to make merit a matter of reward lest people conspire and contend."


"If we want children to become able to act with personal conviction about what is
right.. .we must reduce our adult power and avoid the use of punishment and rewards as much as possible."

Constance Kamii

"Praise and manipulation can only serve to stifle natural motivation and replace it with blind conformity, a mechanical work style, or open defiance towards authority."

Randy IIitz and Amy Driscoll


(Some thoughts on the matter)

"Consequence control is Elvis on velvet. Stimulus control is Michelangelo's David"


“The very fact that a challenging behavior exists indicates that basic needs have been historically  unmet an/or are currently going unmet"

“lnstead of working on the problem we need to be working with the person. Prior to presuming that we have the knowledge and wisdom to know what is best for anyone we need to first examine the reality of the supports we are providing and be certain we ar
listening closely to the individual"

"Attacking a person's behavior is usually ineffective and disrespectful"
“Difficult behaviors are messages which can tell us important things about a person and the quality of his or her life"

 David Pitonyak Ph.D.

"Instead of responding to the person we typically react to the behavior"

"Most of what passes as assessment seems to be denial about the mutuality of our common condition"

“What is the nature of the persons intelligence? Just because it is different from mine doesn't mean it is inferior - or superior - its just different"

“Positive approaches is a way of striving for a world where we recognize political and social inequities and work to contradict and correct them personally"

 Herb Lovett Ph.D.

“Positive approaches is an ongoing process of learning about the best in people and supporting them through the worst"

“Positive approaches is based on a system that begins with the fact that everyone's life has
meaning and purpose"

       Kathy Lee

"It is normal to be a woman with a developmental disability w ho is blind. It is normal to get angry and to express that anger. It is normal to expect respectable treatment and normal to demand the service delivery system to respond"       Dave Hinsburg

"Our job is not to fix people, but to design effective environments."    Rob Horner Ph.D.

"We ask people who by definition have the fewest adaptive abilities to make the most adaptations all the time."   Ann Donnellan

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