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There are 4 functions of behaviours: Social Attention, Tangible (or activities), Escape or Avoidance, and Sensory Stimulation
A person may engage in a behaviour to get some attention or reaction from another person. For example, a baby throws a cup, mommy comes to her high chair to pick up the cup and also talk to the baby.
Tangible or activities
A person may engage in a behaviour to obtain a tangible item or gain access to an activity. For example, a child cries and throw himself on the floor at the checkout counter because he wants a bar of chocolate.
Escape or Avoidance
A person may engage in a behaviour to get away or delay getting to a (hard) task or work. For example, a child refuses to write her homework. So she cries. The longer she cries, the longer she doesn’t have to do her homework. And eventually, mom gives in and say you can do your homework later.
The behaviours under the function of sensory stimulation (or self-stim) do not rely on anything external. The behaviour serves a function to give the person some internal sensation that is pleasing. For example, a child sucks his finger; an adult twirl her hair when she’s nervous, a person rocking back and forth at the desk.
You may have one behaviour that serves multiple functions at one moment. You may have one behaviour that demonstrates different functions in a different location with different people.
Follow along with us as we explore the functions of behaviours. Pick a behaviour you have observed of yourself, your child, your partner, or even your neighbour or colleague. Next week, we will talk about how to respond to these behaviours under different functions.