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Sensory-Automatic Reinforcement

Did you know sensory is one of the functions of behavior?

Nowadays, sensory in the ABA field is known as automatic reinforcement. This means people fulfill their individual needs by themselves without anyone or anything from the environment. Almost all of the time, this occurs when people are alone and no demands are in place. Not only that, people reinforce themselves, no matter positive or negative!

Automatic reinforcement as a function for behavior can look like many of these examples:

  1. Jonathan brushes his hair with a hairbrush to make his hair neat.

  2. Ariella loves to eat cookies because she loves the soft texture of them.

  3. Samantha feels a mosquito bite, so she will scratch the spot to relieve the itchy sensation.

  4. Michelle washed her hands after she got them dirty from cooking.

  5. Dr. Temple Grandin applies the squeeze machine on herself to gain deep pressure.

  6. Kevin rocks back and forth in his seat during a college lecture to stay awake.

People engage in self-stimming behaviors, so automatic reinforcement is the function of the behaviors. The best way to think of automatic reinforcement is that automatic equals self! No person or thing in the environment reinforces an individual except themselves. People can reinforce themselves. Did you know that?

It’s very interesting to think that, but it’s possible to reinforce ourselves. Any questions or thoughts about automatic reinforcement? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section!


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