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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches and Positive Behavioral Interventions

Derrick Dufresne


Derrick Dufresne: One of the things that we now know is that, unless somebody is an active psychotic state, unless somebody is so self-stimming that they're in their own world, that we exist not in a vacuum, but we exist in our environment. Now we all know what happens when somebody says, "Weren't you listening to me?"

When we get into our own world or we're momentarily distracted or if you ever had the experience of driving 20 miles and realizing, I don't know how I got here. So there is both the part of our brain that is always going and active, and then there's the part of the unconscious part of us that can do things. And then there's the reflex, and that's some of the things that Skinner and Pavlov taught us that there's certain reflex kind of things, and then there is conditioning things where I can condition you do something, but you still may have some choice.

So not only from the people I mentioned before, but one of the things we've learned is that people exist within an environment. But it's interesting to me when we consult and train and whether or not it's somebody that's doing poorly in their day program in the community, in a locked unit, or whether or not somebody's even living in a home in the community just with one other person.

People are constantly looking at what we can do to change this person's behavior. And the focus often is in absentia or outside the realm of looking at the fact that this person doesn't live, love, work, and play within a cocoon. There in an environment. And what we now know is that, for some people, if you don't change the environment, you're not going to change the behavior.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001MNSCDD-03, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

This website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL),  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,120,136.00 with 83 percent funded by ACL/HHS and $222,000.00 and 17 percent funded by non-federal-government source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.