Case Studies in Behavioral Analysis

Case Study 1: William

Ms. Tooley contacts you, an ABA analyst, to assist her with a child in her classroom named William. William is a healthy 6-year-old boy who has been terrorizing his classmates. The problem has been occurring since the beginning of the school year. William pushes, kicks, hits or bites other children in the class. This has often happened during recess time. Ms. Tooley first addressed the issue by scolding William. That did not appear to reduce the behavior, so she then required him to visit the principal’s office whenever an episode of hitting/biting occurred. These visits also had little effect in reducing the negative behaviors.

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1.What is the target behavior(s) that you will plan to address? Write a target behavior definition.
2.How would you first assess William? Discuss the rationale for your choice of assessment.
3.Discuss one reason why the teacher’s original methods of behavioral management may have failed.
4.Design an effective behavior modification program for William using a combination approach (two or more behavioral techniques).
5.Discuss your rationale for selecting the combination approach, drawing upon behavioral theory.
6.Explain how you would evaluate the modification program.
Discuss issues related to spontaneous recovery of behavior, extinction and maintenance of desired behavior.

Case Study 2: Annie

Hospital Administrator Rodriguez contacts you because she is experiencing difficulty with an ABA program that you designed for one of her psychiatric patients, Annie. The patient, a 40-year-old female with schizophrenia, has been exhibiting a great deal of difficulty with a few daily care routines, including brushing her teeth and making her bed in the morning. The program that you originally designed was a token economy system in which she would earn 1 token for each completed activity and then collect a reward (extra time in the courtyard) once 10 tokens were obtained. Ms. Rodriguez reports that Annie is not completing the tasks and then as a result, not earning any tokens. She asks you to revisit the hospital to determine what is not working.

1.What are three possible issues that can occur with a newly implemented behavioral change program? Discuss what aspects of the program you would want to check on first before making any changes.
2.Choosing one of the three potential issues, elaborate on how this may be negatively impacting the program and how you could address the problem to increase the likelihood that the program would work.
3.Discuss the concept of response priming and whether this might work to facilitate behavioral change in the above case study.
4.Describe an alternative modification program (instead of the one presented) for Annie. Solution Preview
Case Study: William

1. What is the target behavior(s) that you will plan to address? Write a target behavior definition.

(a) The target behavior is William’s hitting biting and kicking of other children in the class.

(b) Aggression: physical contact that includes the pushing, kicking and biting of another person. William demonstrates aggression that often happens during recess time.

2. How would you first assess William? Discuss the rationale for your choice of assessment.

William could first be assessed by conducting an interview with him and his parent(s) to observe and identify the target behavior, and through other collection of data such as time and intensity and/or occurrence of behavior. The data could be collected through a questionnaire such as the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 1991a as cited in Sattler, 2002) measures internalizing and externalizing problems in children and adolescents. The CBCL is designed for parents of children and adolescents ages 4 to 18 years old. The rationale for conducting the interview is to observe the target behavior. The rationale for utilizing the CBCL is that it includes a Teacher’s Report form (TRF, Achenbach, 1991as cited in Sattler, 2002). According to Sattler, the TRF has satisfactory validity.

3. Discuss one reason why the teacher’s original methods of behavioral management may have failed.

The teacher’s punishment may have reinforced the aggressive behavior. Research suggests that punishment for aggressive behavior, if not followed by non-aggressive behavior, will result in increases in antisocial behavior, delinquency and aggressiveness. For instance, a study was conducted to show that children imitate behavior exhibited by an adult model in the presence of the model (Bandura, Ross & Sheila Ross, 1961). Applied to the current case, further research demonstrated that when two groups were presented with situations when there were punishment reward as to no punishment rewards, children preferred to have as their model (i.e., to emulate) the model who was the aggressor over the non aggressive model (Bandura et al., 1963). These studies show that the continued punishment of William for his behavior may actually reinforce his aggressive behavior.

4. Design an effective behavior modification program for William using a combination approach (two or more behavioral techniques).

The following combine behavioral models are proposed: Individual Incentive and Rewards Incentive Program.

*Program: Basic Design

A. Individual Incentive – includes the following steps:
(a) Identifying (or pinpointing) the problem – focused on what it is that you want to change. Pinpointing the problem helps to delineate the boundaries of the problem
(b) Pinpointing behavioral assets – note both the strengths and limitations that can be built upon. The objective is to develop a management program to maximize the students’ assets. If one focuses only on the elimination of appropriate behavior, appropriate behaviors are left to chance.
(c) Recording target behaviors – record base – line data on key problems and key assets before and following an intervention.
(d) Pinpointing critical reinforcers – when building a reward program the reward must be attractive enough so that the student will consistently work for …

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This solution describes case studies on the behavioral analysis of children.

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