Early Intervention Technical Assistance Portal

Just as you can measure the dimensions of an object (e.g., height, width, depth, weight), you can measure the dimensions of behavior. The six dimensions of behavior: frequency/rate, duration, latency, topography, locus, and intensity are important as they clearly define the nature of behavior. 

From words, to hugs, to tantrums, all behavior communicates something.  This brief lesson will help you practice reading the message behind the behavior.

Why we do things (function) is not always obvious from the behaviors we use (form).  Here is a quick reminder of the differences between form and function and strategies to find the function.

This is an important concept when creating behavior plans.  If it is new to you, please check out Form vs. Function before jumping into this lesson.

An operational definition of behavior is a description of behavior that is presented in terms that are fully observable and measurable. A good operational definition allows all adults to be able to agree at any moment on whether or not the behavior is occurring.

Reinforcement is a powerful piece in the puzzle of understanding a child’s behavior. In this “Bit” you will review what reinforcement is and how to identify if a response is reinforcing (increasing) a child’s behavior.

In addition to understanding general reinforcement, it is key to understand the difference between positive and negative reinforcement. We recommend that you review Reinforcement prior to exploring this “Bit” in order to better understand the positive and negative aspects of reinforcement. You may be surprised by what you discover!

The word “punishment” can bring strong images to one’s mind. Images that often involve personal memories, angry adults and crying children. Behaviorally speaking “punishment” is none of these things. In this “Bit” you will identify what punishment is and how it impacts behavior.

Just like Reinforcement, Punishment comes in positive and negative forms. We recommend that you review Punishment prior to exploring this “Bit” in order to better understand the positive and negative aspects of punishment. You may be surprised by what you discover!

Collecting behavioral data is crucial to creating effective behavioral interventions for young children. This “Bit about Behavior” will help you understand how to see your observations and organize them according to the “Antecedent”, “Behavior”, and “Consequence”. This understanding will help you identify patterns and create informed hypotheses on the function of a child’s behavior.

Reinforcement is something that maintains or increases a behavior. Differential reinforcement is a practice that involves focusing your reinforcement on one specific behavior and withholding reinforcement from another specific behavior. We recommend you review “Positive and Negative Reinforcement” prior to exploring this “Bit” so you are ready to apply those concepts to Differential Reinforcement.

Measurement is an essential practice for behavior intervention. There are a variety of ways in which one can measure challenging and desirable behaviors. In this “Bit” you will explore ways to measure the six dimensions of behavior through child scenarios and utilizing a variety of data collection tools. We recommend you complete the “Behavior Bit” titled: Six Dimensions of Behavior prior to completing this “Bit.”

Never underestimate the power of motivation!  The presence or absence of motivation can positively or negatively impact even the strongest reinforcers in a plan. Learn about the different variables that might impact the effectiveness of reinforcement.

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