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Youth, Developmental Delays and Self-Injurious Behavior

Martin, an ABA psychologist, is working with Sara, a 14-year-old girl with severe developmental delays who exhibits self-injurious behavior. The self-injurious behaviors include pulling her hair, biting her arm and banging her head against the wall. After conducting a functional analysis, Martin decided to employ an intervention program consisting of differential reinforcement of other (DRO) desired behavior. Martin collected data on Sara's behavior before and during the intervention. Below is a depiction of the data that Martin collected:

Frequency of Self-Injurious Behavior:

Biting Hair Pulling Head banging
Baseline 10 23 15
Intervention 7 5 6

Address the following questions:

1. What type of research design did Martin employ when working with Sara?

2. According to the data, did the intervention that Martin selected work in modifying Sara's self-injurious behavior?

3. Martin had considered using an ABAB reversal design when working with Sara. What are some ethical implications of selecting a reversal design when working with the type of behavior problems that Sara was exhibiting?

4. Martin's supervisor requested a graph of the data he collected when working with Sara. Why are graphs useful in evaluating behavioral change? What variable (using the case study example) would be plotted on the x axis and the y axis?

5. Discuss what a functional relationship is and how an ABA professional would use his/her understanding of functional relationships when designing an intervention.

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1. What type of research design did Martin employ when working with Sara?

Martin employed a simple "Single-n, A-B design. The single-n design (n) initiated by Skinner (1948) was initially used by him to study superstitious behavior. In his experiment, he was able to induce behavior that could be considered superstitious, extinguish that behavior and then recondition the behavior. He discovered that behavior could be described as superstitious as more likely when there were intervals of reinforcement by introducing and withdrawing treatment, and observing changes in the behavior following the treatment, and by not allowing other changes in the environment, he was able to determine if the treatment was the cause of the superstitious behavior. The single -n design-the A-B design is a simpler form of the single-n design with the following objectives:

(a) Introduce treatment before there is a change in the dependent variable
(b) Choose difference between conditions A (baseline) and B (Post treatment behavior)
(c) Eliminate between subjects variables by using only one participant
(d) Control relevant environmental factors

The experimenter's overall objective is to demonstrate that factors have been controlled by establishing a stable base line, then introduce treatment. The baseline is the standard against which you will measure all subsequent changes implemented by the treatment intervention or program. to observe if a change occurs, and that change is due to the treatment (Mitchell & Jolley, 2005). In other words, the researcher has two specific goals: (a) keep non-treatment factors constant, (b) statistically account for the effects of non-treatment variable with the objective to isolate the treatment's effects by stopping spurious (varying) non-treatment variables (Mitchell & Jolley, 2005, 411). According to Mitchell & Jolley, the A-B design, as are all singe-n designs involve a single participant, with efforts to observe whether the participant behavior on the dependent measure is consistent.

Thus, related to the A-B design in the Martin case, the design employed a baseline ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses, youth, developmental delays and self-injurious behavior.