, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 99-117

Identifying the variables maintaining self-injurious behavior

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Reliability and validity data are reported for an instrument designed to identify variables maintaining self-injurious behavior. The Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) is a 16-item questionnaire that addresses the situational determinants of self-injurious behavior in persons with autism and other developmental disorders. The reliability study indicated that teachers of 50 developmentally disabled persons could agree on the variables presumably maintaining their student's self-injury (interrater reliability), and that they would be in agreement again 30 days later (test-retest reliability). The validity study indicated that teacher's ratings on the MAS of 8 subjects' self-injury predicted how their students would behave in analogue situations. Specifically, the MAS predicted the subjects' self-injurious behavior in situations with decreased adult attention, with increased academic demands, with restricted access to tangibles, and in unstructured settings. The MAS is presented as an alternative or adjunct to more formal functional analyses in efforts to identify the variables controlling selfinjurious behavior.

This investigation was supported by a State University of New York at Albany Faculty Research Award and an Easter Seal Research Foundation Grant to the first author. We wish to thank Dr. William Bentley and Fred Finn of the O.D. Heck Developmental Center, and Dr. Martin Hamburg of the Suffolk Child Development Center for thiir continued support. Thanks are also due to the numerous teachers and undergraduate research assistants at both sites who helped with data collection, and to Jodi Mindell for her help with data analysis. Finally, we thank Edward Carr, Paul A. Dores, Wendy S. Durand, and Brian Iwata for their helpful comments. Portions of this paper were presented at the meeting of the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1983.