2014 issue 1


Volume 23, issue 1

Original article

Application of time-out procedure in reducing stereotypical behaviour in a child with an intellectual disability

Monika Zielińska1,2, Monika Szmidt2
1. Instytut Psychologii Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego, Gdańsk
2. Centrum Diagnozy i Terapii Zaburzeń Rozwojowych
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 23 (2014) 25–31
Date of publication: 05-05-2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.pin.2014.03.007
Keywords: Developmentally delayed children, Self-stimulation, Functional analysis, Time-out, Stereotypic behavior


Objectives: The aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of Time-out procedure
in reducing behaviours maintained by negative reinforcement. Method: At the beginning,
a functional analysis was conducted in order to identify functions of the stereotypical
behaviour (spitting) performed by a 6-year-old developmentally delayed child. Later on
the frequency of the target behaviour was measured before and during applying the
Time-out procedure and then again during a temporary withdrawal of the procedure and
after reapplying it. Results: The number of the target behaviour decreased while the
procedure was being applied whereas it increased after its withdrawal. Conclusion: A
procedure based on negative punishment can be effectively used to reduce behaviours
maintained by negative reinforcement. This apparent paradox can be explained by the
fact that the Time-out procedure does not allow the subject to escape the situation
completely, but only delays it.

Address for correspondence:
Instytut Psychologii, Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego, ul. Bażyńskiego 4,80-952 Gdańsk, Polska.
Tel.: +48 58 523 43 24.
Adres email: cditzielinska@gmail.com (M. Zielińska).