An aversive stimulus is anything that someone simply does not like. Those things vary per person at any given time.
How is Aversive Stimulus used in ABA?
In Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an aversive stimulus refers to something that an individual finds unpleasant but is presented in order to reduce the occurrence of the target behavior. The purpose of using an aversive stimulus is to change or eliminate the behavior and replace it with a more desirable one. ABA practitioners use various techniques to increase desired behaviors and decrease maladaptive behavior, and one technique involves Positive Punishment. Positive Punishment is the addition of an aversive stimulus following a behavior in order to decrease the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.
For example, if a child hits another child, the therapist may give the child a time-out, which is a form of positive punishment. The child is being given an aversive stimulus (being removed from the activity) in order to decrease the likelihood of hitting again.
However, it is important to note that punishment should only be used as a last resort in ABA therapy. Positive reinforcement, such as praise and rewards, is generally more effective in increasing desired behaviors.
When to use Aversive Stimulus?
In order to determine if an aversive stimulus is an appropriate intervention, it is important to consider the potential consequences of the behavior being targeted. Aversive stimuli, such as verbal reprimands, yelling, and harsh punishment, should be used sparingly in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) interventions. Although there is evidence that some behaviors can be reduced through the use of aversive stimuli, there are potential risks associated with their use.
The potential risks of aversive stimuli:
- Running away
- Getting away
- Dodging it
When an aversive stimulus is used in ABA, it is important for the therapist to ensure that the behavior being targeted is addressed and not simply avoided. This means that when using an aversive stimulus, the therapist must work to make sure that the behavior itself is addressed and changed rather than just having the person avoid or escape the situation. To do this, the therapist must ensure that any reinforcement given for the appropriate behavior is greater than the aversive stimulus.
Does Aversive Stimulus work?
The therapist should also keep track of how long it takes for the person to respond to the reinforcement and record any changes in behavior that occur after the aversive stimulus is used. Additionally, it is important to ensure that an appropriate amount of time passes between when an aversive stimulus is presented and when reinforcement is given for the appropriate behavior is greater than the aversive stimulus. Additionally, the therapist should keep track of how long it takes for the person to respond to the reinforcement and record any changes in behavior that occur after the aversive stimulus is used. This will help determine if any progress has been effective.
- If behavior goes up? Reinforcement is at work.
- If behavior goes down? Punishment is at work.