Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify the variables involved in the maintenance of aberrant behaviours associated with Rett syndrome. The occurrence of aberrant behaviours associated with Rett syndrome is typically attributed to biological variables associated with the disorder. In some cases, however, these behaviours have been shown to be sensitive to manipulations of environmental variables (i.e. operant contingencies). However, little research exists regarding the variables involved in the maintenance of these behaviours and the manner in which these variables can be manipulated to effectively reduce the occurrence of these behaviours. Method: We conducted functional analyses of the aberrant behaviours exhibited by two females diagnosed with Rett syndrome. Following the functional analyses, treatments were developed to disrupt the relationship between the aberrant response and the reinforcer maintaining it. Results: Results from the functional analysis suggested that in both cases the aberrant behaviours (i.e. hand wringing and hand mouthing) were maintained by automatic reinforcement. Treatment, which included interrupting hand wringing for one individual and preventing hand mouthing for the other participant, resulted in dramatic changes in the levels of aberrant behaviour for both participants. These changes suggested that preventing reinforcement delivery reduced the motivation to engage in aberrant behaviour. Conclusions: These results suggest that operant variables can be manipulated to influence the occurrence of aberrant behaviour associated with Rett syndrome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas