Interventions for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Engage in Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

40th Annual Association of Behavior Analysis International Convention


Association for Behavior Analysis


Chicago, IL

Publication Date



Although inappropriate sexual behaviors among individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities may often be considered a taboo topic, it is essential that practitioners are prepared to intervene when such behaviors occur. Inappropriate sexual behaviors are defined as a response class performed within an environment that deems the sexual behavior unacceptable either by societal standards and/or by consequence of the potential harm the behavior poses to self or others. Inappropriate sexual behaviors demonstrated among this population include behaviors such as public masturbation, public disrobing, and inappropriate sexual touching of others. We conducted a systematic search to identify studies that implemented a behavior analytic intervention to reduce inappropriate sexual behavior among participant(s) with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Results were analyzed in terms of (a) participant characteristics, (b) target behaviors, (c) intervention characteristics, and (d) study outcomes. Results conclude that a variety of both reinforcement and punishment techniques have been used across the literature to reduce inappropriate sexual behaviors. Practical implications for practitioners are discussed.

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