Oct 042015


One of my grad students was reporting on her differential reinforcement intervention designed to reduce the number of curse words uttered by one of her students. The student began to show increasing self-restraint as he would start to say the usual curse/slur, but change the ending: Sh….oot, fah….fah, fah, fah, Da…delion. He also consciously changed certain words: Ninja for the “N word”, ducking for the “F word”, etc.

In the latter case the other kids recognized the implied word and chuckled, but the titillation (Can I say that on the internet??) soon left, followed quickly by the use of the rhyming words by them, replacing their own offensive terms.

The teacher found time to sit with the young man and talk about how he was making progress, telling him how she knew that he could show “maturity” by being able to switch gears depending on the demands of the situation in which he found himself. She noted the validity and importance of the caustic lingo in the streetcorner setting while helping him recognize that flexibility would benefit him now and in the future in other social and employment venues.

Unfamiliar with differential reinforcement? (It’s up there among the strongest behavior change procedures available.) Here’s a link to what-it-is and how-to-do-it videos: http://behavioradvisor.com/Teacher-SchoolServices/ABA.html

 Posted by at 4:09 pm

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