Working with individuals with severe developmental delays is never an easy task. Working with the developmentally delayed may seem daunting during the diagnostic phase as well as while deciding treatment methods. The case in field research design that was implemented in the case study of Martin and Sara is a great example of helping individuals with developmental disorders overcome self-destructive behaviors.
After performing a functional analysis Martin used differential reinforcement of other (DRO) desired behavior. Martin employed a case in field research design method while working with Sara. He did not have a large sample to compare his client to and he did not implement a control group. Martin used direct observation of his client, Sara. He observed her behaviors then implemented the best treatment option in helping her diminish her self-destructive behaviors.
The intervention that Martin implemented with Sara certainly diminished her self-destructive behaviors. Her undesirable and self-destructive behavior included pulling her own hair, biting her arm, and banging her head against the wall. Sara’s self-destructive behaviors diminished significantly as a whole, following the differential reinforcement of other (DRO) desired behavior intervention.
Before intervention Sara’s observed self-biting numbered ten incidents. After intervention, Martin observed Sara bite herself only seven times. Before intervention, Sara’s observable hair pulling amounted to 23 incidents. After intervention, Sara pulled her own hair a total of five times. Before intervention, Sara banged her head against the wall a total of 15 times. Following intervention, Sara only banged her head against the wall a total of six times. Sara’s self-biting reduced by three incidents. Sara’s hair pulling reduced by 18 incidents, and she reduced her behavior of banging her head against the wall by nine incidents.
Line graph representation of Sara’s diminished undesirable and self-destructive behaviors
Although Sara’s undesirable and self-destructive behaviors are still present, they have significantly and drastically decreased. Her self-biting decreased nearly in half. Sara’s hair pulling reduced by over 75 percent from her baseline behavior, and the undesired behavior of banging her head against the wall decreased by over 60 percent compared to her baseline behavior. Perhaps, with the continued implementation of the differential reinforcement of other (DRO) desired behavior intervention, Sara’s self-destructive behaviors could eventually be eliminated altogether.
The line graph above is helpful in giving a quick and easy to read representation of the results that were discovered in Sara’s case study. Line graphs in particular reveal behavior changes over time. Functional relationships are causal or empirical relationships. From functional relationships professionals in ABA can build new theories and make predictions about future behaviors. The line direction can display a visual pattern that can help individuals evaluate and understand the general direction of a behavior. Graphs give another dimension and explanation of the data. Furthermore, some individuals are visual learners, and visual aids augment and enhance understanding and comprehension of an issue.
Martin was correct in implementing the differential reinforcement of other (DRO) desired behavior with his client Sara. According to Psychology Glossary (2013), “A-B-A-B Reversal Design refers to a type of singlecase experimental design in which a Baseline of Behavior is first taken (A), followed by an Intervention phase (B), then a return to baseline phase where the intervention is removed (A), and a final phase in which the intervention is reintroduced (B).” When modifications in behavior take place through the intervention phases only, this signifies that modifications in the behavior are solely due to the intervention. However, ABAB reversal design can be confusing for individuals with severe developmental delays.
According to Gongola and Daddario (2010), “reinforcement based procedures are considered to be best practice when working among [individuals] with disabilities and are found to have more ethical appeal” (14). Additionally, researchers have discovered that functional assessments and function-based intervention methods have been shown to be effective with many individuals, presenting problems, and settings (LeGray, Dufrene, Sterling-Turner, Joe Olmi, & Bellone, 2010, p. 186). In this instance, Martin chose the best possible corrective intervention for Sara. The case in field research design that was implemented in the case study of Martin and Sara is a great example of helping individuals with developmental disorders overcome self-destructive behaviors.
Gongola, L. C., & Daddario, R. (2010). A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing a Differential Reinforcement of Other Behaviors Procedure. Teaching Exceptional Children, 14-20.
LeGray, M. w., Dufrene, B. a., Sterling-Turner, H., Joe Olmi, D., & Bellone, K. (2010). A Comparison of Function-Based Differential Reinforcement Interventions for Children Engaging in Disruptive Classroom Behavior. Journal of Behavioral Education, 185-204.
Psychology Glossary. (2013, April 25). A-B-A-B Reversal Design. Retrieved from Psychology Glossary: : http://www.psychology-lexicon.com/cms/glossary/glossary-a/1453-a-b-a-b-reversal-design.html