Examining the operant function of challenging behavior in young males with fragile X syndrome: A summary of 12 cases

Wendy Machalicek, Andrea McDuffie, Ashley Oakes, Monica Ma, Angela John Thurman, Mandy J. Rispoli, Leonard J Abbeduto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


This study used experimental functional analyses to examine the operant function of challenging behaviors exhibited by 12 males (ages 27-51 months) with fragile X syndrome (FXS). Eight children met criteria for negatively reinforced challenging behavior in the form of escape from demands and/or escape from social interactions. Nine children met criteria for positively reinforced challenging behavior in the form of obtaining access to highly preferred items. Attention was identified as a maintaining consequence for three children. The functional analysis was inconclusive for one child. Results suggest that, for young males with FXS, challenging behaviors may more likely be tangibly and escape maintained than attention maintained. Our findings affirm past research suggesting a unique behavioral phenotype for this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1694-1704
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2014



  • Challenging behavior
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Functional analysis
  • Functional behavior assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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