The repertoire of the autistic child in relation to principles of reinforcement

  • C. B. Ferster
Part of the The Century Psychology Series book series (TCPS)


Childhood schizophrenia is a model psychosis in that it is a profound behavioral disturbance occurring in a very young child without the long and elaborate histories of experiences of the adult. This less complex behavioral history makes the child an ideal subject for experimentation with psychotic debilitation, since the relevant data in the child’s history are closer at hand, the number of individuals who can potentially influence the child fewer, and the behavioral control by the parents virtually absolute. When we understand the ways in which behavioral deficiencies occur in young children, and the techniques for ameliorating them, we will have developed tools which have, at least, general relevance for understanding and treatment of the adults, even though the procedures and responsible variables will not be exactly comparable in the two cases. The general method of procedure is to understand how behavior develops in the new child, the variables of which it is a function, and how it is maintained. When we can make a functional analysis of the behavior of the child in relation to its controlling environment, we will have identified the relevant variables which may be potentially responsible for weakening or disrupting behavior, or otherwise producing behavioral deficiencies.


Autistic Child Reinforcement Contingency Behavioral Repertoire Conditioned Reinforcement Dine Room 
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© Meredith Publishing Company 1966

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  • C. B. Ferster

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