Monday, January 13, 2014

The Comeback Kid and the Neurobehavioral Unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute

Established in the 1980s, the [Neurobehavioral Unit's] unique, 16-bed inpatient program is known around the country and even abroad for providing intensive behavioral assessment and treatment for children and young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who have severe behavioral problems. “We’re the only very intensive inpatient program like this in the country, if not the world,” says Lee Wachtel, MD, medical director of the program. The NBU is often the last resort for families who have spent years trying different therapies and medications without success...“Historically, it’s been a very successful program, and it’s built an excellent reputation within the field of applied behavior analysis,” says behavior analyst Sung Woo Kahng, PhD. During the last five years, 88 percent of patients discharged had reduced problem behaviors by at least 80 percent, and 84 percent had maintained those gains months later...During the first several weeks of his stay, Luke’s behavior was assessed under safe conditions to identify the triggers for his problem behavior. When he arrived at the NBU, Luke was engaging in self-injurious or aggressive behaviors more than 400 times a day. The following weeks were spent eliminating those triggers and teaching him new skills, including how to more appropriately get what he wants. “We used a token economy with Luke to help him learn to control his behavior,” explains Dr. Kahng. If he did not engage in aggressive behaviors, he would earn tokens that he could trade in for access to preferred activities or outings, like being able to play a favorite video game or go out to a fast-food restaurant. more

No comments: