Caresociety's Blog

Targeting the consequences: Working with children with Autism

Posted on: April 15, 2013

Children with Autism communicate many of their needs through different behaviors.  Often the consequence of their action is getting “what they want”. Targeting the consequences and changing it would intern effect the behavior of the child. Consequence is what happens right after a behavior. It can be fulfilling a biological need, psychological need or materialistic need. Like we can control the triggering factors we can control the consequences of the actions,

Example: Aisha saw a beautiful toy on the shop while she was coming home with her mother. Aisha demanded her mother to buy the toy for her. When her mother said NO, she started crying and screaming. Then Aisha’s mother bought the toy for her and she stopped screaming and crying. The consequence of Aisha’s action is “getting the toy she wants”. Hence the chances are that Aisha’s screaming or crying behavior will increase in future. Because she is getting what she want by exhibiting a negative behavior.

Scenario modification: Aisha Sees a toy she likes (actecendent)=  Aishath Screems /Cry (behavior)  = Mother ignores (consequences)

In this Scenario Aisha is not getting what she wants hence chances are her behavior (screaming /crying) will decrease. However when we start to work with a child this change will take time to be evident enough to make a behavior change. In real life such behaviors would not occur over one incident. It might have taken several such incidences for a child to come to an understanding that they can get what they want by crying or screaming. Hence when we start a behavior modification program and focus on changing the behavior by modifying the consequences chances are that the child might exhibit several other negative behaviors before the behavior is changed as demonstrated below.

Aisha Sees a toy she likes (actecendent)=  Aishath Screems /Cry (behavior)  = Mother ignores (consequences)= Aisha Hits her mother= Mother ignores= Aisha show a temper tantrum= mother ignores and take her home= aisha cries at home= mother ignores

As we can observed aisha’s behaviors has not changed even when she did not get what she wanted. This is because it will take time for Aisha to understand what is happening. She would have to come to a realization that regardless of her negative behavior she is not going to get what she wants. And eventually she would reach there after several trials. As demonstrated below.

Aisha Sees a toy she likes (actecendent)=  Aishath Screems /Cry (behavior)  = Mother ignores (consequences)= Aisha Hits her mother= Mother ignores= Aisha show a temper tantrum= mother ignores and take her home= aisha cries at home= mother ignores= Aisha Stops crying=mother ignores= Aisha Attends to something else at home (acceptable behavior)= mother gives a hug

Hence, behavior modification is an achievable task with proper understanding of the Childs behavior and dealing with it consistently. Once it is decided to not give any reinforcement for a negative behavior then it is important to stick to that decision otherwise it would be a never ending challenge to deal with them. And because of this the child may face different challenges in functioning within the society.

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