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Ethics are fundamental to any profession. In this Discussion response (approx.

Ethics are fundamental to any profession. In this Discussion response (approx. 2 paragraphs), explore one of the greatest ethical dilemmas faced in behavior analysis—the use of aversives in the treatment of children engaging in self-injurious behavior (SIB). While there is research to support the efficacy of aversive treatment with some children with SIBs, some states outlaw their use, and many question whether it is ever an ethical approach.

To prepare:

  • Review the readings and weekly video introduction to gain an understanding of ethical codes and aspects of those codes relevant to the use of aversive techniques.
  • Search the Internet and available literature for research on the efficacy of using aversives in the treatment of SIB, as well as ethical concerns and arguments professionals and laypeople make regarding their use.
  • Evaluate the pluses and minuses of using aversives in the treatment of severe SIB in children with autism or developmental disabilities.

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) occurs most frequently among persons with severe intellectual disability (ID) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Please read the following scenario:

You are working as a behavior analyst and are referred a seven-year-old boy with ASD (Level 3 severity), who is engaging in repetitive head banging to the point where he has required medical treatment.

ASSIGNMENT: Explain whether you believe aversives should be used in the treatment of SIB. Justify your rationale by explaining ethical issues regarding the use of a behavior management approach that includes aversives.


  • Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). 
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