G-16: Use positive and negative punishment (e.g., time-out, response cost, overcorrection) ©

Important note: Fictionalized clients are used to demonstrate the skill items in the second half of the task list, sections F-I. They make the most sense when read in order. Please remember that there is not substitute for real-life supervision and consultation. Get your case-specific advice from professionals – not from the internet! These examples are just that – examples of how behavior analytic skills might be applied.


Case example: Jada is an elementary school student. She experiences Level 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Level 3 is the severity level of Autism which is characterized by “requiring very substantial support.” Jada has also been diagnosed with a severe Intellectual Disability (ID). Jada has just transferred to a private school for individuals with global needs. She loves all kinds of play and messy activities, such as finger paint and water play. She also enjoys swinging on the playground, eating popcorn, and watching Disney movies. She loves to be read to, and laughs when staff make dramatic gestures while reading picture books. Jada does not use any vocal speech. She makes noises sometimes, such as humming. Jada engages in motor stimming, including upper body tensing and flapping her arms. Jada engages in severe challenging behavior, including self injury (hand to head and head to surface) and aggression (including hitting and biting). Jada has a mom, dad, and older brother living together in one home. Jada’s family has advocated for her to attend a private program, and they are excited for her to get high quality services. Jada’s new behavior analyst is Dr. Brown-Davis, who is a BCBA-D employed by the private program.

Example of Item G-16: Dr. Brown-Davis understand that it is important to start out with reinforcement procedures, and to move to punishment only if needed. He notices that Jada starts to sometimes slap herself in the face immediately after emitting an FCR. He does not want to teach Jada that using an FCR and then slapping herself is an effective way to ask for things. Therefore, he implements a 5-second response cost. Jada must emit the FCR and be SIB-free for 5 seconds prior to receiving the reinforcer. This breaks the relationship between the FCR and the SIB, and Jada stops slapping herself when she asks for things. 


Case example: Donovan is a high school student. He has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). He attends a public school and has been placed in a support program for students with social/emotional/behavioral needs. Donovan enjoys playing video games and drawing in his sketchbook. He would like to be a welder when he is an adult. Academic achievement and attendance have been challenges for Donovan historically, and he is currently not on track to graduate with his peers due to missed work and failing grades in several classes. Donovan’s team has identified challenges including frequent non-attendance to school, walking the halls during class times, non-attendance at expected guidance appointments, and non-completion of classwork. Donovan lives with his mother and older brother. Donovan’s mother is concerned about her son’s school challenges and expresses frustration about his “lack of commitment” to his education. She wants Donovan to understand how important it is to graduate from high school. Donovan’s behavior analyst is Ms. Bailey, who has just started contracting with Donovan’s school district through the agency she works for.

Example of Item G-16: Ms. Bailey has observed Donovan walking out of class and roaming the hallways during academic periods. This out of class behavior is having a major impact on Donovan’s ability to engage in academic activities. Ms. Bailey considers three different punishment options in conjunction with the existing reinforcement procedures. 

Time-out: Donovan seems to enjoy walking the halls and talking to peers. The first punishment option is to remove him from the halls and have him sit in the in school suspension room whenever he is seen wandering and talking to peers during class. This is considered an exclusionary time-out because he is being removed from the reinforcing environment.

Response Cost: Ms. Bailey considers utilizing a point sheet with Donovan. He would earn points for being in class, getting work done, and being respectful to peers and staff. However, he could also lose accumulated points if he leaves the classroom. This is considered response cost, since he is losing previously accumulated reinforcers contingent on problem behavior.

Overcorrection: When Donovan is in class, he tends to put forth a lack of effort during independent math practice. He will often scribble non-sense for answers, even if he knows the answer. Ms. Bailey coaches the teacher to implement overcorrection. When Donovan scribbles answers, he is prompted to rewrite each of the answers clearly three times.



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