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Aversive Procedures

Position Statement of AAIDD

Some people who have an intellectual or developmental disability continue to be subjected to inhumane forms of aversive procedures as a means of behavior support. The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) condemns such practices and urges their immediate elimination. The aversive procedures to be eliminated have some or all of the following characteristics:

  1. Obvious signs of physical pain experienced by the individual.
  2. Potential or actual physical side effects, including tissue damage, physical illness, severe stress, and/or death. 
  3. Dehumanization of the individual, through means such as social degradation, social isolation, verbal abuse, techniques inappropriate for the individual’s age, and treatment out of proportion to the target behavior. Such dehumanization is equally unacceptable whether or not an individual has a disability.

This statement is intended to articulate important values and principles and to challenge the field of developmental disabilities to promote research activities leading to identification, testing, implementation, and dissemination of non-aversive alternatives to address severe behavioral disorders. Specific regulations regarding research, clinical practice, or individuals in making professional judgments are the province of regulatory agencies, funders, and certifying bodies.

Eliminating inhumane aversive procedures is a reflection of a growing concern for reducing actions by professionals and others that compromise the lives of persons with an intellectual or developmental disability and their families. Positive behavior support not only should reduce problem behaviors that pose functional barriers to successful life, but also enhance those behaviors that lead to self-determination, independence, productivity, and lifelong learning. Relationships between providers and consumers should foster empowerment of the consumer, enhance choice, and promote integration of persons with intellectual disability or other developmental disabilities into community settings.

The AAIDD urges continuing research into humane and effective methods of positive behavior support.

Adopted:

AAIDD Board of Directors
July 11, 2012