The use of omission training to reduce self-injurious behavior in a retarded child

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Omission training (OM), a response elimination technique which specifies reinforcement for the nonoccurrence of a designated response, was applied on an experimental treatment basis. The subject was a 14-yr-old severely retarded boy with a long-standing self-injurious behavior of headbanging. After a Base Line phase, 50 OM sessions reduced self-injurious responding to a near-zero rate. Accompanying response elimination was the emergence of new, more appropriate social behaviors. During a reversal condition, self-injurious responding occurred at less than half the mean rate emitted during Base Line. During two subsequent behavior probes, no self-injurious responses were emitted. None of the undesirable side effects previously reported with aversive conditioning resulted from the OM procedure. Since positive reinforcement was used throughout, management of the treatment contingencies by institutional personnel and volunteer help was made possible. Suggestions for further study are offered. © 1975 Academic Press, Inc.




Weiher, R. G., & Harman, R. E. (1975). The use of omission training to reduce self-injurious behavior in a retarded child. Behavior Therapy, 6(2), 261–268.

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