Rosales-Ruiz & Baer define behavioral cusps as a behavior change that has consequences beyond the change itself. Once behavioral cusps are taught, the individual can now access new opportunities and new experiences that were not previously available. Clinicians typically want their learners to develop skills that will allow for new found access to meaningful opportunities (parents clearly want this as well). Let’s use language development as an example. Many children do not need to use their own language because their needs are anticipated and automatically met. However, verbally communicating with your child and immersing them in language, opens up the door for them to become active participants in their environment. These language skills are behavioral cusps.
Another everyday example is teaching older generations how to use technology. We all know this can be an incredibly daunting task. But, picture Grandma. You love Grandma, but cannot visit or call as often as you would like. But if you teach Grandma how to use an iPhone and social media, she now has an ongoing subscription to her children, grandchildren, and even friends she may have lost touch with. Teaching her to refrain from saying embarrassing things on social media, however, is a different story.
Behavioral Cusp Strategies
Below are a handful of strategies/questions from Bosch and Fuqua (2001) to get started on selecting potential skills to target.
- Does the response facilitate subsequent learning by being either a prerequisite or a component of more responses?
- Will the response have the potential to contact new reinforcers?
- Will the response give the learner access to new environments?
- Does the response benefit others?
- Does the response have social validity?
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Krystel Rae Davis wrote this insightful article. Our team of BCBAs and RBTs are engaged and motivated to help create a culture of care, advocacy, and excellence to ensure long term sustainable growth. Check out our career opportunities and training programs.