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J Appl Behav Anal. 1993 Winter;26(4):617-30.

The development of a treatment-research project for developmentally disabled and autistic children.

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Psychology Department, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1563.


This paper describes the development and main results over the last 30 years from the treatment-research project with developmentally disabled (autistic) children in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Three important dimensions in treatment research are addressed. The first pertains to the role of serendipity or accidental discoveries, the second to the importance of pursuing inductive rather than theory-driven research, and the third to the importance of adding in a cumulative and step-wise manner to improve treatment adequacy. Data from various areas of treatment research have been used to illustrate new directions for the project. These illustrations center on early and successful attempts to isolate experimentally the environmental variables that control self-injury, failure to observe response and stimulus generalization with subsequent loss of treatment gains, and the main results of intensive and early behavioral intervention in the child's natural environment. Effective treatment for severe behavioral disorders is seen to require early intervention carried out during all or most of the child's waking hours, addressing all significant behaviors in all of the child's environments, by all significant persons, for many years.

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