Ok, so, I see the term “Maladaptive behavior” quite a bit in clinical practice. And at first, it makes sense. Typically, it is used to describe behaviors that are NOT adaptive to daily living and social context. Here’s a scenario: “Johnny will scream and yell in class, so I have to send him out on a daily basis. His Maladaptive behavior is disrupting his learning!”
Makes sense, right?
Wrong. Here’s why:
Johnny’s behavior is absolutely adaptive for getting Johnny what he is motivated to get; escape from the classroom. Yes, it isn’t adaptive for the classroom, but we aren’t talking about the classroom’s behavior here.
We are talking about Johnny’s behavior. And for Johnny, and the purpose of the behavior, it was absolutely adaptive! As a matter of fact, it was the most efficient way for Johnny to get the highest rate of reinforcement with the lowest response effort. Had he asked to leave the room, it is likely the teacher would have said “no” or set a contingency that Johnny will have to complete work prior to exitting. For Johnny, it is much easier to yell and leave than do any additional work.
So, yes, Johnny’s behavior is problematic. That is why I call it problem behavior, or socially inappropriate behavior (in the context). It works well for Johnny, but it isn’t appropriate in the school setting.
Moving forward, I BEG you, consider the behaver and the behavior you are targeting. It is a target behavior for reduction, problem behavior, or inappropriate behavior. Because it is most certainly adaptive for Johnny.
Working in the field for the past several years, I don’t hear a ton about this journal, but what I do hear is a ton of flack about how it isn’t applicable to the applied setting, etc. And sure, the research presented in it isn’t IMMEDIATELY applicable to the field, but holy cow, is there some good stuff in there.
And more than anything, it establishes that there are real gaps in research that can be addressed moving forward.
P.S. I still prefer the Analysis of Verbal Behavior
So, as I was reviewing some treatment plans, graphs, and various other aspects of clinical practice, I got to thinking about how great this field is and how far it has come in just a few short years. There are entire branches of ABA dedicated to people, animals, schools, employment, language acquisition, and even robotics (I,for one, welcome our new robot overlords).
In any case, I thought it was important to go back to some of the basics, which is why I chose to look at Baer, Wolf, and Risley’s (1968) article about the dimensions of ABA. If you don’t know about this article, it is one of the seminal publications in our field, shaping what modern ABA looks like today. This is where the concepts of Generality, Effective, Technological, Applied, Conceptually Systematic, Analytic, and Behavioral were originally coined.
Also, it is interesting that this was the first article published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
So, take some time, find this article, and get to know it, because this is a foundational bit of information for our field.
So, in order to keep this thing rolling with interesting material, I’ve decided to post a brief review of articles I find in my ongoing quest for eternal knowledge (as evidenced by specific skill acquisition, of course!). Anyway, I thought this article was really great, and you should check it out:
- Sundberg, M. (2013). Thirty points about motivation from Skinner’s book Verbal Behavior. The Behavior Analyst, 29, 13-40.
In this article, Dr. Mark Sundberg (developer of the VB-MAPP) breaks down Skinner’s Verbal Behavior into some key points that are incredibly important in our field. Some of my favorite points he elaborates on are:
Point #4: MOs are typically private events
Point #13: Much of what is termed “emotion” involves an MO effect
Point #30: MOs are responsible for the emergence of human language
So, when you get a moment, go to Google scholar and check it out, or email me and I can send you a copy as well.
So, as I was driving today, I suddenly became aware of how powerful a science ABA is. It is a world-changing science, and as such, I find that we are moving closer to a larger systems change. Changes in litigation, insurance, etc. are all moving forward, and it is a pretty incredible time for a behavior analyst to be practicing.
And here is the private event: I am looking for people who are interested in looking at major social change potential. I’ve got some gears cranking (or some private events that seem to be perseverative), and I’m thinking that here is what I need.
1. Legal expertise in educational settings
2. Teachers currently working in school settings
4. Professionals working in corrections (or some similar field)
5. Medical doctors
6. Any profession that may need to address some ongoing social concerns
See me here if you are interested. I see big things in the future (based on risk assessment, potential response effort, and overall reinforcement, of course!).
When I review behavior programs and get to operationally defined problem behaviors, I actively model the behavior to see if the definition makes sense.
Hello everyone! Our next CEU course will take place on February 28, 2014 at 6pm. “The Future of Behavior Analysis” or, “ABA and Robots? Who Knew?” To celebrate our first year of operation, we are offering the 1 hour course for 5 dollars! Come check us out at www.NewArchitectsLLC.com
There is nothing cooler than seeing people like Andrew Houvouras, Dr. Jose Martinez-Diaz, and Dr. Ray Miltenburger teaching ABA concepts live. So inspiring.