A computer simulation paradigm for self-injurious behaviour

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Remington, B, Hastings, R, Hall, M, Bizo, LA & Brown, T 2000, 'A computer simulation paradigm for self-injurious behaviour', New Millennium Research to Practice: Conference Abstracts: 11th World Congress of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID), Seattle, Washington, USA, 1-6 August, in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, vol. 44, no. 3-4, pp. 439.

Journal of Intellectual Disability Research home page available: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117990054/tochttp

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The aim of the present research was to model the inadvertent social reinforcement processes which are sometimes responsible for the development and maintenance of severe problem behaviour. An interactive computer program was designed to simulate a child with self-injurious behaviour, both graphically and in real time. Participants were instructed to ‘teach’ the simulated child a matching-to-sample task. This could be accomplished by interacting with the program using on-screen, cursor-operated buttons. The program gradually increased or decreased the frequency of simulated self-injurious behaviour, depending on the precise pattern of participant inputs. Three functions of problem behaviour were modelled: (1) attention seeking, (2) demand avoidance and (3) self-stimulation. The present paper describes the development of the program and the results which have been obtained thus far. The significance of the research relates to the fact that participants may be unaware that changes in their behaviour affect the behaviour of the simulated child. Therefore, the simulation may be used as method of training staff in the principles of functional analysis and alerting them to the unintended implications of their behaviour.