Because the goal of a functional analysis is to understand why problem behavior is occurring, the test condition of the analysis necessarily involves evoking problem behavior or its precursors. If relevant reinforcement is provided immediately following problem behavior, problem behavior ceases immediately in the test condition of the analysis. Therefore, the immediate provision of relevant reinforcement prevents the escalation of problem behavior often reported to occur in the natural environment and thereby creates a safe context to understand the determinants of problem behavior. Another interesting phenomenon often observed with the immediate provision of relevant reinforcement is the down shift in the intensity or form of the problem behavior, such that very mild forms of problem behavior are often observed within the initial sessions of a well designed analysis. Such a phenomenon was observed by Kara Verseckes, M.S., BCBA, of the New England Center for Children during a functional analysis conducted in the home of a young boy with autism.
Click here to learn more about her experience.