Oct 042015

(From the BehaviorAdvisor.com facebook page) PLEASE EXPLAIN #2: A couple of days ago, I questioned whether all behaviors have a goal/function/purpose. (As claimed by adherents of the ABA model). A trio of people responded to the post. Here is my reply to them.

Thanks Jennifer. You presented a thoughtful response, as did Chevie and Steph. Perhaps I need to reframe my thoughts, as I talked about two different points on different ends of the path without connecting them.

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, here my original post and the responses to it.

PLEASE EXPLAIN: According to behaviorists/ABAers, all behavior has a purpose… thus the Functional Behavior Assessment procedures to determine the purpose.
An emotionally overwhelmed teacher bangs his/her fist on the board and cries. What is the function of that/those actions? A schizophrenic adolescent reacts wildly to his/her distorted perception of reality. What is the function?
It it true that all behavior is purposeful? Please… seriously… let me know how the above-mentioned actions could serve a function. It’ll help to remove some of my skepticism of the “all behavior is purposeful” claim.

JENNIFER’S RESPONSE: One could argue that the actions of the overwhelmed teacher provide emotional release, which lessens the internal discomfort. It is difficult to surmise the purpose in example of the adolescent as it depends on what their perception is.

CHAVIE’s RESPONSE: That’s what I was going to say… the function of the adolescent’s behavior is relative to their perception. it’s functional to THEM. Thus, my FBA would probably conclude that if the individual seems to be attacking the teacher because he/she perceives the teacher to be a vampire that needs to be eliminated, we may try eliminating the vampire with anti-psychotic meds.

The teacher bangs his/her fist to express frustration/emotion and release cortisol or something (a biochemist I’m not.) We may address the function of this behavior by teaching him/her to use deep breathing and muscle movements to balance stress chemistry, while expressing the emotions with effective language.

STEPH’s RESPONSE: I, too have my issues with some of the premises of ABA. Jennifer above nicely described my analysis for me.
Recognizing my failure to be fully focused in the original posting, I perceive a need (in my mind) to restructure the thoughts and provide a better explanation. There’s not enough room here on facebook to explain things and provide links to support materials, so for those of you who wish to follow-up on the topic (and perhaps respond back here on facebook) here’s the link to my elongated response:www.behavioradvisor.com/ABAdoubtsFBA.html

 Posted by at 4:03 pm

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