Behavior modification is widely used today for many behavior issues stemming from disorders such as ADHD, ADD, anxiety disorders, mental retardation, depression and many other issues. When using behavior modification, mental retardation is probably the condition that requires the most thought, care and consistency.
Although many people may not believe in behavior modification for mental retardation, it has been proven effective when used correctly and consistently. Children or adults that suffer from mental retardation has a problem with structure and schedules. This is why it’s so important for their to be consistency in the behavior modification. Mental retardation may be a condition that will not change, but the patient can learn small tasks to do that can help in their every day life.
The most effective way to be successful with behavior modification is to state behavior objectives. Objectives must consist of listing three things about the mentally retarded individual’s behavior. The next step is to determine specific factors about the behavior as well as how often it is being exhibited. Lastly, you have to determine when the behavior is taking place. When working with behavior modification, mental retardation may not be changed, but characteristics of their behavior can be changed.
Another important thing to remember with behavior modification and mental retardation is to use simple verbs when talking with the individual. State very simply what it is you want the individual to do or what he is already doing and be consistent. For instance, using verbs like “eats dinner”, “walks slow” make it simple and easy to understand. It’s also important to state when you want the behavior to take place and how often. As with all behavior modifications, the behavior must be monitored and assessed each time you are working with the individual.
An example of a problem may be the individual trying to run through the halls rather than walking slowly. Each time you walk with the individual, using the verb “walk” will be showing him the act you want him to perform. When he walks instead of running, he will get praise and encouragement. Although the change will not take place the first day or two, it will eventually happen with consistency.
Many people working with behavior modification have a tendency so slip from time to time, which will result in the progress being slowed down. If the individual is allowed to run even once, he may not understand that he ALWAYS needs to walk. In this case, it is not the behavior modification for mental retardation that did not work, but rather that it wasn’t used correctly.
The most effective way for dealing with and teaching the mentally retarded individual is by using simple requests they can understand and being consistent. The rules cannot change in the middle of the session.