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Ethical Advocate for Accurate Application & Dissemination of Behavior Analysis

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When to teach "I WANT"

Thoughtful discussion on the Speech Pathology Applied Behavior Analysis SIG of ABAI page today about teaching "I want" to early learners. (6/12/2017)


Here's my 2 cents on the topic: When you teach "I want" as a carrier phrase, before other language skills have been taught, you run the risk of dysfunctional language later. Right now, when a learner is requesting things they "want", the phrase works. But what happens when they want to label the world around them? Instead of "IT IS raining" or "I AM sad", learners who have been taught carrier phrases too early on will say "I WANT raining" and "I WANT sad", when this is not what they mean. I second the recommendation of Dr. Vince Carbone as an EXCELLENT resource on this topic. I would also recommend Dr. Mary Lynch Barbera's work in this area.

Door #2 / Consolation Prize 
"Attention is Attention is Attention"

April 12, 2013: I usually tell parents that children don't typically "want" to be reprimanded or scolded, but will settle for that over the absence of praise. Some attention (any kind of attention) if preferable to none. I sometimes call it the "Door #2" phenomena or the "consolation prize". Perhaps the child would prefer praise, but there's power in being able to predict and ultimately, "attention is attention is attention".

March 2016: It is important for parents and caregivers to have access to quick, behavioral tips and techniques that are helpful for general behavior management. While the wording on point #11 appears to simplify the matter (re: intrinsic/extrinsic), I agree that parents and caregivers will want to plan for naturally occurring consequences. For example, rather than promising children a prize for eating all of their broccoli or threaten to take away a privilege if they don't, consider something that is naturally occurring and more directly related to the desired (or undesired) behavior. So, perhaps if the child tries their broccoli and doesn't like it they can opt for an alternate vegetable or they can refuse to try it and forego dessert with the rest of the family. I also think for some children, it can be important for their parents to pair social approval (smile, hug, high-five, thumbs up) or disapproval (frown, scowl, shrug) with the consequence. Ultimately, through pairing, one can transfer the effects of the extrinsic item to a something that is more intrinsically reinforcing/punishing.

Programming for Naturally Occurring Reinforcers 

Uncategorized Utterings

"I figure life isn't about being right, it's about being happy and about leaving the world a better place than how we first found it (individually and collectively). I guess I could be wrong, but even if I am, it's still an awesome ideal to aim for." (6/27/2013)


"There is a lot of good in this world. There is a lot of bad too. What will you focus on? What do you do to contribute? Change what you can change and then 'be the change you want to see in the world'.  (6/27/2013)


"Behavior is susceptible to shaping and conditioning. Just because we understand behavioral phenomena, does not mean we are exempt from its influences.  If anything, we are more aware." (5/20/2013) 


"There's nothing wrong with being wrong, it's only wrong if we're right...and we do nothing." (4/22/2013, On sustainability).


"If people put their efforts into destroying you, don't imitate them. Model and set an example for them." (3/26/2013)


"When you truly enjoy what you do, people truly enjoy being around you."  (3/14/2013)


"Goals are what we aim for. What we end up with is a product of the process...aim high!" (2/21/12) 


"I'm selling science -and it's FREE!" (2010)


"Small world, smaller field." (2008)


"...attention is attention is attention." (2006)