The effectiveness of using behavior shaping techniques to prepare nine institutionalized severely and profoundly mentally retarded adults for tests of motor fitness was assessed. Three severely mentally retarded subjects served as the executive subjects in a yoked-control study. Each executive subject was paired randomly with two profoundly mentally retarded subjects. A three-phase multiple baseline experiment was then conducted with executive subjects; yoked subjects received the same intervention as their executive partner. The training program consisted of a verbal instruction baseline phase, a modeling phase, and a graduated guidance phase. Tasks used for training were the shuttle run and standing long jump. Modeling instruction produced minimal improvement in subject performance; however, graduated guidance instruction produced marked, immediate improvement in the performance of six of nine subjects on both tasks. These results suggest that physical prompting techniques will prepare some, but not all, severely and profoundly mentally retarded adults for motor fitness testing.
This study was supported by a grant from the Alabama Department of Mental Health. The authors are grateful to the staff of Partlow State School and Hospital, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for their cooperation during the study.
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