Consequences. Many give this term a negative connotation but really even positive things which occur in our daily lives are considered leaving some consequent affect . This is particularly important in terms of behavior.

The field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) is concerned with what happens before a behavior, what the behavior looks like, and last but certainly not least what happens after the behavior. Consequence in the field of ABA is defined has a stimulus change that follows a behavior of interest, some consequences, especially those that are immediate and relevant to current motivational states, have significant influence on future behavior (Cooper et al., 2017 pg. 4). What does that all mean? Let’s break it down a bit, a stimulus is just any environmental variable that can have an effect on behavior. For example, you’re eating ice on a hot summer day and rather than have it melt you guzzle it down in 2 minutes. What happens after? The pain sets in and your eyes begin to squint; you start to wonder how to make the pain stop until finally after some time it goes away. The behavior in this example is eating at a certain pace and the consequence consisted of having a brain freeze. You are less likely to eat that fast in the future right? Lesson learned. While this is an example that can happen to anyone, how do consequences impact those with behavioral, or other, diagnosis?

To a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other behavioral diagnosis the consequences are very important for development of their skills and acquisition. For example, there is a child who wishes to get his mother’s attention when she is feeding her/his younger brother, so they decide to scream at the top of their lungs until mom gives them attention. What was the consequence? Attention whenever screaming is evoked. Why is this important? Well in terms of shaping this child to becoming a atypical-functioning adult in society screaming is not acceptable. How does ABA combat this behavior? Well we implement procedures such as extinction or differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors to make such behavior halt or decrease to a point that is socially acceptable. To begin, extinction is simply the removal of reinforcement of a behavior that was once reinforced, for example if you were paying attention to Jaime after they were crying or screaming for your attention, we would recommend this attention cease and an alternative behavior replace the crying or screaming. Thus, differentially reinforcing alternative behaviors is just giving little Jaime attention for when they appropriately ask you for more milk or juice rather than the inappropriate behavior of crying or screaming. These replacement behaviors are important because these communicative skills are what is socially acceptable and reinforced for future behaviors.

If you have any questions, please let us know as these are only set of recommendations from someone with in-field experience. Visit our blog soon for related blogs and post. To learn more about behavioral intervention services and early behavioral intervention services go here:

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