Several readers emailed questions about using positive reinforcement and an event marker to teach “Quiet Mouth” behavior to my son. The questions had a similar theme: How did I know the “function” of the behavior? Did I have any idea why my son was screaming? Was he trying to communicate?
These are all interesting and appropriate questions. I never knew the function of most of the behaviors my son displayed, including the constant screaming. I would have liked to have had this information. However, like most autism parents, I never had, and still do not have, access to sustained behavioral services and professionals who could help piece this out. Eventually I just stopped thinking about that part of the problem because there was nothing I could do about it. The continuous screaming or shrieking appeared to be a self-stimulatory behavior. I wanted him to do more productive things with his time than scream and stomp, so I taught him to walk nicely and quietly with me in the neighborhood. Once he learned this set of behaviors, we were able to go out to other places and we started to have a much better quality of life.