Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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Conduct a complete functional assessment (ABCs) of at least 3 problem behaviors exhibited by Helen in The Miracle Worker.

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This is a very interesting question. Think in terms of what ABC means--you have a Behavior that is a problem. You have to track the Antecedent, in order to find out what triggered the behavior, but you also have to note the Consequence, or what the person got as a result of a behavior. The consequence is to either escape from or obtain something. You then have to figure out an alternate way for the person to obtain/escape, in an acceptable way.

Anne Sullivan did this type of analysis informally in The Miracle Worker. Think of the types of behaviors Helen was exhibiting, that caused Anne to be called in the first place. I'll give you one of the three you ask for. Helen walks around the table at meal time, taking food off of people's plates and eating it. That's a behavior that needed to change. What's the antecedent? The family is at the table, Helen is hungry. The consequence? Helen gets fed. It was difficult for the family to teach her an acceptable way to eat, so they hadn't. Anne modified Helen's behavior; the consequence of obtaining food remains the same.

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