Solving Problem Behaviors

What are Problem Behaviors?

Behaviors that threaten access to typical environments and negatively affects daily living activities such as safety, communication, and self-care.

Solving Problem Behaviors

Solving problem behavior involves figuring out why the child continues to engage in difficult and challenging behaviors. The first step to solve a problem behavior is to contact a medical doctor to rule out biological factors. For example, if a child of 0-6 months constantly engages in projectile vomiting after consuming milk there is a probability that the narrow opening from the stomach to the small intestine is blocked. In this case there is nothing behavior therapy can do to solve the problem behavior and requires medical intervention (surgery).   

Once biological factors are ruled out, the second step is to identify motivating factors that maintain the problematic behavior. Once motivating factors are identified, the next series of steps heavily depend on the problem behavior category, function of the behavior (the why), and environmental factors maintaining the problem behavior. Its important to contact a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) to provide an impartial and objective view of what is maintaining the problem behavior.

For behavior therapy to be effective it is important to not take shortcuts and cut corners when dealing with problem behaviors. Most organizations overlook important factors and take shortcuts resulting in slow progress or recommended strategies that do not work.

At Core Behavior Skills, when we say we “solve the problem at the core” is because we do not take shortcuts. To solve the problem behavior we perform several assessments to discover the source of motivation for the problem behavior to occur, and what treatment strategies have the highest probability of being effective for the family.

The behaviors listed below contain a description plus specific information on problem behaviors that can threaten access to typical environments and negatively affect daily living routines. If you are experiencing challenging behaviors as those listed below please contact us to set up an appointment.

Learn more about the problem behaviors we can help with:

Repetitive swallowing of air, which produces an unusually large volume of air in the gastrointestinal system. This behavior may consist of initial deep breathing, swallowing air, holding it for a brief period and exhaling.

A variety of behaviors that can cause injury to another person such as hitting, biting, kicking, throwing objects, pinching, or hair pulling.

Being underweight accompanied by the fear of gaining weight accompanied by a strong desire to be thin.  

Urinating multiple times during the day or night into bed or clothes, whether involuntary or intentional.  This may be diagnosed as an elimination disorder if accidents occur at least twice per month for children aged five to six.

Eating large amount of food in a short time and attempting to get rid of the food by vomiting or taking laxatives.

With or without tears.  This could be a form of whining when little to no vocal skills are present. 

A broad range of unintelligible vocal sounds, phrases, or sentences at inappropriate times.

Excessive flow of saliva outside of the mouth throughout various time periods.

Repeating a word or all parts of a phrase, typically referred to as “parrot speech”.  Echolalia can be immediate or delayed.  When it’s delayed a phase previously heard can be repeated later on.

Repeated attempts to leave an assigned area without permission.  This behavior includes other names such as running away, roaming, wandering, and absent without official leave (AWOL).

Attempts to gain access to drink any fluids at a very high rate and intensity from any source.  The behavior can lead to negative side effects (e.g. headache, blurred vision, vomiting, poor coordination, seizures, and coma).  This behavior can be considered a life-threatening condition and could be diagnosed as polydipsia.

Attempts to gain access to excessive quantities of foods after eating.  The behavior can happen at a very high rate and can often lead to overeating.  This behavior could be diagnosed as polyphasia.

A wide variety of gross motor movements such as inability to sit still, fidgeting, or out-of-seat.  Usually, the behavior switches from one form to another.  

This may include fecal soiling, eating, or smearing.  Fecal soiling is the voluntary or involuntary passage of feces leading to soiling of clothing worn (e.g. undergarments). In children who are four years or older that are potty trained it is sometimes diagnosed as encopresis or fecal leakage for adults. 

Fecal eating is the consumption of fecal matter, including eating feces of other species, other individuals or one’s own.  This behavior is also medically known as coprophagia.

Fecal Smearing is the presence of feces on the hands, body, and/or objects (e.g. walls).  This behavior is also medically known as scatolia.

Refusing to eat majority of given foods in the house hold.  Sometimes referred to as a “picky eater”.

Insertion of either hand into the mouth beyond the first knuckle or any contact of the hands or fingers with the lips, tongue, teeth, or oral cavity except when eating.

Use of language that is deemed socially offensive which may contain swearing, coercion, poor choice of words (e.g. negative statements to other, threats such as future aggressive acts) or cursing.

Wrong tone of voice such as loud sounds, loud high-pitched sounds (e.g. screaming/yelling) or a low tone of voice (e.g. whispering) at inappropriate times (e.g. uses a loud tone of voice during dinner time).

Fails or refuses to comply with medical care routines/ evaluations.

A variety of behaviors involving contact of the mouth with other objects without consuming them.

Fails or refuses to comply with given requests within a reasonable time frame.  

Refusing to consume foods adequately, fails to gain weight and/or significant weight loss for at least 1 month.

Intense anxiety when presented with specific objects, animals, situations, or events.  The behavior is marked by the proportion of reactions to the stimulus.

Will repeatedly eat non-edible substances for at least one month such as crayons, paper, hair, nails, rocks, leaves, clothes, dirt, and feces.

Damage to public or private property.

Engaging, offering, or solicitation of any act that involves a sexual act for hire.  A sexual act consists of any of the following behaviors involving intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, masturbation of another, anal intercourse, or the causing of penetration. 

Involves a repetition of thoughts or physical actions that are often accompanied by a set of rules such as washing hands 10 times or checking if the door is closed multiple times.  This pattern of repetitive behaviors is sometimes diagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Regurgitating, re-chewing, and swallowing of food within 0 to 15 minutes.  This behavior sometimes consists of bending over and making a sudden gagging noise.  For some individuals the behavior can be seen by looking at the throat bulge slightly during the regurgitation due to a bolus of food. 

Causing physical injury to the individual’s own body.  Such as hair pulling, biting, eye gouging, head banging, or pinching.

A range of behaviors such as stimulation of the genitals (masturbation) in the wrong place, or sexual action (e.g. touching, vocal statements, texting pictures of the genitals) towards a non-consenting person.

Persistent difficulties in falling asleep or remaining asleep.  Some of the problem behaviors consist of bedtime tantrums, refusal to go to bed, or awakening at night.

Consists of self-stimulatory behaviors involving fine motor manipulations such as hand twirling, body rocking, object manipulation.

Person has little control of psychoactive substance (e.g. drugs, recreational drugs, alcohol) use and continues to use substances despite the consequences.  Some of the side effects range from job loss, social impairment, withdrawal symptoms, dishonesty, to stealing. 

Any behavior that can lead to taking one’s own life, including talks of suicide or illustrations, with the ability to follow through.

Involuntary or habitual excessive grinding of the teeth or jaw clenching.  This is also known as bruxism.

An unlawful taking of another person’s property without permission or consent.

Recurrent acts which involves hair pulling or constant hair manipulation.  

Abnormal episodes of elation or depression such as somatic complaints, suicidal ideation, irritability or anger, frequently violent and uncontrollable social behavior in the absence of significant provocation, hopelessness, anxiety, or tension.  This pattern of behaviors is sometimes diagnosed as a type of mood disorder. 

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