Using Applied Behavior Analysis in Addressing Biting Behavior of a Child with Autism: A Case Study

Document Type : Case Report


Department of Psychology, University of the Philippines Diliman, National Capital Region, Philippines


Introduction: This study focuses on a boy with autism spectrum disorder presenting with biting behaviors that interfere significantly with functioning.
Method: This was a single-case study design examining how techniques of applied behavior analysis can be utilized to decrease the frequency of the child’s biting behavior and increase more adaptive behaviors.
Results: The findings of the functional analysis indicated that other-inflicted biting behaviors were maintained by contingent escape from task demands (demand condition) and access to preferred objects and activities (tangible condition). Moreover, the self-inflicted biting behavior was found to be maintained by sensory stimulation (alone condition). Given these, a structured behavioral intervention, consisting of differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors, coupled with extinction targeted to each function of the behavior, was effective in reducing other-inflicted biting behavior in the demand conditions (67% reduction) and in the tangible conditions (95% reduction) as well as reducing self-inflicted behaviors in the alone conditions (100% reduction). More appropriate, adaptive behaviors like compliance, picture-assisted requests, and oral sensory activities also increased significantly.
Conclusion: These findings indicate that assessment and treatment based on the principles of applied behavior analysis can reduce not only problematic behaviors but also improve adaptive functioning.


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