Habit reversal procedure

Marcus, a 10-year-old boy with severe intellectual disabilities, lived at home with his family. Marcus engaged in a number of disruptive behaviors that were reinforced by his parents’ attention. Because the problems were not too severe, his parents had not sought treatment for them. Marcus also had a nervous habit in which he bit his fingernails. The parents decided to use habit reversal procedures for the nail-biting. However, because of Marcus’s intellectual disability, his parents would have to prompt the competing response each time Marcus bit his nails. Whenever they observed nail-biting, one of the parents immediately walked up to him and said, “No nail-biting, Marcus,” and placed his hands together in his lap. The parent held his hands together in his lap for 1–2 minutes, explained to him why nail-biting was bad for him, and told him he should hold his hands together instead of putting his fingers into his mouth.

What is wrong with the use of the habit reversal procedure in this case?

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