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#228487 - 12/26/10 09:14 PM Screaming- Separation Anxiety?  
Joined: Apr 2010
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carat Offline
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carat  Offline
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We just went on a vacation, and I wanted to wait until we were back before I started to tackle this difficulty we've been dealing with for quite some time.

Baby still screams a lot, in my opinion. If I'm here at my computer, or in the living room and parts of the kitchen she's usually quietly perched and contentedly puffed up, or playing with her toys. But if I leave her sight, even just to go to the bathroom, she will start screaming within a couple minutes. When she sees me again she quiets down. But she will scream (for lack of a better word) for as long as 45 minutes to sometimes even an hour (I'm guessing) if she's alone and can't see me. She will also get upset if she can only see my 6 year old daughter and not me.

When we went on our vacation I had her board at her AV. I hired one of the Techs to come over and get Baby into her travel kennel because I didn't think I'd be able to do it with out being seriously maimed again. The tech put a towel over her arm and was able to get Baby to step up onto it and into the kennel. Baby was reserved and a little nervous the first couple days at the AV, but then really enjoyed her visit there. The boarding capacity was high because of the holidays and Baby seemed to enjoy her temporary avian flock.

Yesterday I was able to get her to step up onto a towel on my arm when she escaped from her cage. I was offering her a walnut with the cage door slightly open. I dropped the nut and while I was retrieving it, she made the break out. But, I did get her back into her cage in a pretty short time with relatively low stress.

I am thinking about trying out of cage perch time with her after my daughter starts up school again. That may turn into a separate topic, along with getting her to allow me to get her into the sleep cage. I will have a couple hours in the morning between dropping my daughter at school and the time for me to head to my classes to work with Baby.

But what can I do to help with the separation anxiety stuff? Is my diagnosis correct? I hope this wasn't too long and confusing. I wasn't sure what to say. I will answer any question you ABA people have, as best I can. Thanks in advance for the help!


~Cara~
Baby (U2) 30 Apr '10 and Sprinkle (G2) 12 Feb '13
And my hubby, 8 y.o daughter, + a mini zoo!
#228523 - 12/27/10 05:48 AM Re: Screaming- Separation Anxiety? [Re: carat]  
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EchosMom Offline
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Rather than diagnosis why Baby screams when you leave the room we need to concentrate on what can be done to reduce the behavior.

I had a similar problem, and still do occassionally, but much less often. I posted about it when we first started the ABA forum so I am going to C&P my post, as well as the link to the thread. It's a good thread for you to read (if you haven't already).

http://www.mytoos.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=177896#Post177896

Originally Posted By: EchosMom
The 2nd example I'll used is that Alex will start yelling (actually honking) the minute I leave his sight. This is still a work in progress, but progressing nicely. As Bev said screaming/yelling is not a good behavior to reduce by ignoring it, because it is very easily can be intermittently reinforced, either intentionally or unintentionally. Intentionally, when we are just at our wits end and respond to the vocalizations by going to the bird because we just can't listen to any longer, get a phone call that we need to take w/out a bird screaming in the backround, or a knock at the door at the front door, which means that I have to walk into the familyroom (where Alex is yelling for me) to answer the door. When we try to ignore a behavior, such as this, the second we reinforce it, we've just taught that it needs to scream louder and longer for the reinforcement.

So, in the beginning:



A= Janet has left the room
B= Alex honks
C= Janet comes back into the room

Probable future behavior - Alex will honk to get Janet to come back

So I have been teaching Alex a more acceptable way of communicating that will still provide him with the consequence. I've replaced the incessant honking with a phrase "Hey Bird!" (Bird is his name for me). Now I had to be careful not to intermittently reinforce this, so when I know that I have to take a phone call, I be sure to stay in his sight. In the beginning when he honked for me, I would contact call back "Hey Bird!" The minute he repeated it...I applied the reinforcement of appearing. Then I'd leave again. We've been working on this for about 8 months now. I've started delaying the reinforcement by responding to his "Hey Bird" contact call rather than immediately reappearing. Honking gives him no consequences. He's becoming much more "patient" with the frequency of the reinforcement, and I've worked on extending the length of my absences. "Hey Bird" is always reinforced, sometimes w/a "Hey Bird" back, sometimes my coming back in the room. Alex rarely resorts to honking anymore and when he does, he gets no response. Although when I hear him getting "desperate" - yep - a construct - LOL! he begins repeating "Hey Bird" repetitively, I know that I need to reinforce it, before he resorts to honking again.

So now we can say:

A=Janet has left the room
B=Alex says "Hey Bird"
C=Janet responds with "Hey Bird" back, or reappears

Probable future behavior: Alex will say "Hey Bird" to receive a contact call back, or my eventual, and inevitable reappearance.



Funny thing is when I leave the house, Alex doesn't scream...he stops as soon as I start the car. I've always figured it's because he knows I can't hear him - LOL! But I know he's quiet because I've actually left and driven around the block and come back - not a peep and I've also had my neighbors listen for him when I am leaving as well. Even now, Alex will still backslide sometimes, and he does this when I have digresesdc in reinforcing the more acceptable contact call of "Hey Bird" as I described in the post above...so that makes it my fault. Continuity and consistency on our part is a must. When I am remiss in reinforcing the more acceptable vocalization, Alex is quick to revert to his incessant honking when I leave his field of vision and YES - even to go to the bathroom. I feel your pain, believe me!!

Is there another sound that Baby makes that is more acceptable to you that you can begin reinforcing? You should pick something that she uses often - that will be easiest to reinforce.


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#228574 - 12/29/10 12:16 AM Re: Screaming- Separation Anxiety? [Re: EchosMom]  
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carat Offline
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carat  Offline
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I read most of the thread now.
Something I'm wondering about is, usually Baby just sets right in loudly vocalizing without a warning sound.

She does have her little snippets of "Toonese"- Rikka rikka roo and booja booja booja. She will also say woohoo once in a while.

Am I supposed to start calling out one of those phrases to Baby right when she starts screaming? Or as I'm leaving the room? Usually as I am leaving her alone I'll tell her "Be right back" or "See ya later".

I'll be thinking and reading more about this. Thanks for the help!


~Cara~
Baby (U2) 30 Apr '10 and Sprinkle (G2) 12 Feb '13
And my hubby, 8 y.o daughter, + a mini zoo!
#228576 - 12/29/10 01:13 AM Re: Screaming- Separation Anxiety? [Re: carat]  
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EchosMom Offline
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You can pick any reinforce any more pleasurance vocalization (includes whistles) that Baby knows. And yes, the idea is to contact call back to her with your chosen alternative sound and the instant she repeats it, you re-appear, applaud and cheer her like crazy, even get her out of the cage for a few minutes of special time. Once she recognizes your cue, she'll catch on quickly and then you can begin to delay the reinforcement gradually, but not to the point that she resorts to screaming again...that's the tricky part and takes continuity and consistency on your part.


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#228969 - 01/08/11 03:06 AM Re: Screaming- Separation Anxiety? [Re: EchosMom]  
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carat Offline
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carat  Offline
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Colorado. USA
I've been trying to get Baby to contact call back to me but she doesn't seem to get it. Any time she says 'rikka rikka roo' I say it back. I call it to her if I'm out of her sight and I hear her make a little squawk. I was standing on the stairwell rikka roo-ing for what felt like 5 minutes and she still wouldn't say it back to me, but she wasn't screaming either so I gave up and came downstairs. Am I doing something wrong?


~Cara~
Baby (U2) 30 Apr '10 and Sprinkle (G2) 12 Feb '13
And my hubby, 8 y.o daughter, + a mini zoo!
#228970 - 01/08/11 03:15 AM Re: Screaming- Separation Anxiety? [Re: carat]  
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EchosMom Offline
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Reinforce the little squawk by going to her when she does it...it's better than screaming. smile


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#229055 - 01/09/11 09:00 PM Re: Screaming- Separation Anxiety? [Re: EchosMom]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 153
carat Offline
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carat  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2010
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Colorado. USA
Yes, I certainly prefer the little squawks!

The training is on as much of a hold as I can bear though. I've had a cold for over a week now and it seems to have progressed into a sinus infection.

I do still call back to her, but with little voice I have! Will the changes in my tone of voice have an impact on the training progress?

Today she actually did say the call back to me so she was rewarded with 3 pine nuts lots of praise and an invitation to dance. She hasn't done it again yet though.


~Cara~
Baby (U2) 30 Apr '10 and Sprinkle (G2) 12 Feb '13
And my hubby, 8 y.o daughter, + a mini zoo!

Moderated by  BE2Cassie, Beeps, EchosMom, Janny 

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