A behavioral-educational alternative to drug control of hyperactive children

J Appl Behav Anal. Summer 1975;8(2):137-46. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1975.8-137.


A behavioral procedure for controlling hyperactivity without inhibiting academic performance is described. Using a time-sample observational method, the hyperactivity displayed by three school children was recorded during math and reading classes. Concurrently, math and reading performances were measured. The study consisted of two baselines, one while the children were on medication and the second while they were off medication. A multiple-baseline design across the two academic subject matters was used to assess the behavioral intervention, which consisted of token reinforcement for correct academic responses in math and subsequently math and reading. Discontinuation of medication resulted in a gross increase in hyperactivity from 20% to about 80%, and a slight increase in math and reading performance. Introduction of a behavioral program for academic performance, during no medication, controlled the children's hyperactivity at a level comparable to that when they were on drugs (about 20%). At the same time, math and reading performance for the group jumped from about 12% during baseline to a level of over 85% correct. Each child performed behaviorally and academically in an optimal manner without medication. Contingency management techniques provided a feasible alternative to medication for controlling hyperactivity in the classroom while enabling the children to grow academically.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis / drug therapy
  • Hyperkinesis / therapy*
  • Learning Disabilities / therapy
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Token Economy


  • Methylphenidate