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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches
and Positive Behavioral Interventions

Derrick Dufresne

Staff Can Be Negative Reinforcers

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Derrick Dufresne: I mean, we did so many things that at time we thought, you know what? You see, no one ever talked about this either. If it didn't make sense to the person, and it maybe didn't make sense to the staff, but, yeah, we used all kinds of reinforcers.

But then we also got into some things that I know we'll talk about a little bit is that it wasn't so much the reinforcers. It's that we were working with people that had pretty out of control behaviors and we kept upping the ante.

So reinforcers were kind of on the positive side but they also were things that we called—and this is in the literature too—which I always thought was an interesting term—negative reinforcer. And I never realized that, as staff, we could be negative reinforcers to people. And sometimes, and we'll talk about this, too, sometimes I think I was the reason for people's behavior.

I mean, you'll see it as this unfolds. It's a... It's a whole series. It's almost like Monty Python. It's... It's a parallel universe that we were in. And no one ever talked to us about it. And so we were experiencing it along with the people we were supporting. The only difference was that I got to go home at night and they were locked up.

I was as institutionalized as the people I was working with.

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