Behavioral Interventions

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Volume 12 Issue 1 (January 1997), Pages 1-54

An analysis of stereotypy during prevocational instruction of an adolescent with severe mental retardation (pages 1-26)


An adolescent with severe retardation was observed during participation in several vocational tasks. The vocational tasks were comprised of repeating sequences of work‐related responses. Across two experiments, conditions that are typical in the training of vocational tasks in special education and adult vocational programs were manipulated and the effects of these conditions on rates of vocational sequences completed and rates of stereotypic behavior were assessed. In Experiments 1 and 2, the adolescent was reinforced with a food item following the completion of vocational sequences under two alternating reinforcement contingencies. Under one contingency, the adolescent performed with frequent errors and under the other, often performed without errors. In Experiment 3, the adolescent participated with another student in a different vocational task on alternating days and in an alternating sequence of work conditions in each task. In one condition, both adolescents had vocational materials nearly continuously present and the teacher prompted and reinforced both adolescents as needed. In the other condition, the vocational materials were presented to the adolescents on an alternating basis, and the teacher prompted and reinforced first one and then the other. Across both experiments, increased competence reflected as high rate, error free, and consistent vocational performances were associated with low rates of stereotypic behavior when compared to conditions with less competent performances, and with leisure periods in Experiment 3. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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