Psychiatric Medication

Another Look at 2.12

2.12 Considering Medical Needs
Behavior analysts ensure, to the best of their ability, that medical needs are assessed and addressed if there is any
reasonable likelihood that a referred behavior is influenced by medical or biological variables. They document referrals made to a medical professional and follow up with the client after making the referral.

Prior to any functional assessment, behavior analysts will want to rule-out medical issues. If the sudden onset of head-hitting is a painful ear infection, for example, the only solution with be interventions that eliminate the infection. However, it could also be the case that a psychiatric evaluation is also warranted. For clients who take psychiatric medication, it is not uncommon for adjustments to be needed periodically. For children, there is also the issue of growth and change that make maintaining the right psychiatric prescriptions more complex.

(Please don't let it be) Puberty

Not puberty! This is a more difficult cause to determine. Also, it is a longer-term situation that will not be corrected anytime soon. Hormonal changes can produce powerful reactions and be especially difficult when the client does not understand what is happening.

If puberty is suspected, there may be other physical indicators that can be indicated alongside the behavior graphs. Below are signs of puberty (source):

In Girls
  • Growth of pubic and other body hair
  • Growth spurt
  • Breast development
  • Onset of menstruation (after puberty is well advanced)
  • Acne
In Boys
  • Growth of pubic hair, other body hair, and facial hair
  • Enlargement of testicles and penis
  • Muscle growth
  • Growth spurt
  • Acne
  • Deepening of the voice

Given it’s association with hormonal changes and pain, tracking a client’s menstrual cycle might be helpful for predicting and supporting crisis behavior.

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