Peat NI

19th September 2014

"That's a bad word!"

We all like to vent off! However, when the choice of words used restricts your access to friends other words need to be said instead. This is an example of how a young boy who excessively swore was given another way of communicating with his family and friends.

Toby was engaging in excessive swearing behaviour that was having a direct impact on his social outlet – the behaviour would occur in school, out shopping or while playing with his friends. The behaviour would occur as much as 100 times per day. The function of this behaviour was to gain attention from another person, specifically when being told “stop swearing”. A programme was introduced to reduce the frequency of this swearing behaviour across all settings. The family were advised to ignore swearing behaviour at all times – by withholding the desired response (attention) the occurrences of this behaviour would decrease. They were also told to reinforce appropriate language, attention would be given for this ‘appropriate’ language. During therapy (with a PEAT tutor) a digital timer was set for three minutes (baseline data indicated that this was the average time that Toby would not engage in this behaviour) visible on the table. If after three minutes, Toby didn’t swear he received an edible reinforcer (preferred food) along with the verbal response “good no swearing Toby”. This was repeated throughout the therapy session. Data would indicate whenever the timer should be adjusted – longer time periods as Toby’s behaviour decreased. After 20 therapy sessions, the occurrences of swearing behaviour had decreased. Toby did not swear for 18 minutes and his appropriate language skills had increased. Long-term his swearing behaviour across all settings has decreased. He is now more involved with his peers and gets attention from family and friends for his appropriate talking.

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