Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 157–176 | Cite as

The relationship between predictability and problem behavior for students with severe disabilities

  • K. Brigid Flannery
  • Robert H. Horner
Regular Papers


Two single-case studies were conducted to examine the extent to which signaled (predictable) and unsignaled (unpredictable) events were associated with changes in the level of problem behavior during instruction. Two students with moderate-to-severe intellectual disabilities and autism participated in the study. Each student was nominated for the study based on a teacher's report that problem behaviors were much more likely when novel or unsignaled events occurred. Functional assessments were conducted with each student and the specific predictability features (signals) associated with low and high levels of problem behavior were identified. Multi-element and reversal designs were employed to examine the extent to which increased predictability was associated with reduced problem behavior. Results supported the use of functional assessment procedures to determine whether signals that provide information about the content, duration, timing, and/or consequences of future events could reduce problem behaviors.

Key words

predictability developmental disabilities functional analysis single-subject research communication 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Brigid Flannery
    • 1
  • Robert H. Horner
    • 1
  1. 1.Specialized Training ProgramUniversity of OregonEugene

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