Sunday, May 14, 2017

Supporting students with problem behavior- support plans

Chapter 9 in Lee Kern, Michael P. George and Mark D. Weist's book, Supporting Students with Emotional and Behavior Problems, discusses how to develop a support plan to address problem behaviors. I particularly like the format that is used to  create a plan. Many districts have formal protocols that they use. It would not be difficult to ensure that they contain all the elements of the plan that is in the authors' format.

First I want to emphasize a thought. Having a "complete understanding of the causes of problem behavior, including an appreciation that environmental events (i.e. antecedents) may trigger it and that skill deficits can limit a student from engaging in desirable alternative behavior ( p. 181)" provides a strong foundation for creating an intervention plan. I think back to reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. The main character, Christopher, has autism and knows what sort of day it will be based on seeing yellow cars on the ride in to school. We think this is odd, but this sort of thing can set students off and we need to understand these setting events so that we can respond in a way to facilitate appropriate behavior.

The authors describe 4 categories of intervention and then add a fifth later on in the chapter and a sixth later on in the book:
  1. After setting events- modify or ameliorate- Christopher needed to have his yellow car thing ameliorated.
  2. Modify or eliminate antecedents- modify task or mode of completion, increase relevance of task, offer choice, schedule attention, provide transitional activity, provide transitional warning.
  3. Teach alternative skills- replacement skills, general skills
  4. Respond without reinforcing- instruction, positive punishment, negative punishment, extinction
  5. Lifestyle interventions
  6. Mental health interventions
I was giving a workshop this spring on deescalating behavior where I was asked about a student who responded to adults appropriately until free time, at which point he grew too loud and used inappropriate language. Since the child had an ASD diagnosis, I speculated that he did not generalize well and needed to be taught how to interact with adults during free time. A theme during that workshop was teach don't tell. We often assume that students know how to do something- we told them, they can do it in some settings or at some times. Unfortunately that is not adequate for all students in all situations.

A note on lifestyle interventions. I really like these because they impact quality of life. Increasing the number or quality of relationships a student has dramatically impact his life. A student who finds academics very challenging or school very difficult needs to find something to have success in. Often students gravitate to sports, crafts or outdoor activities. Reinforcing these is essential for students. Lunch bunch- a strategy in which a trained adult interacts with a small group of good role models and target students during lunch time- is often used to build social skills and friendships. See here for additional information. An advantage of lunch bunch is that the intervention does not pull students out of mainstream instructional times. Peer tutoring and mentoring has also been used to develop social skills and friendships.

I slightly modified a form from the book as seen below. The chart format would be one or two pages. This format would be easy to stick in a sub folder so that people coming into the program could quickly get up to speed when dealing with challenging students. Such a summary is essential with high need students.

Support Plan
Team Leader
Team Members
Target Behavior                             
Behavior definition
End of Year Behavior goal
How will progress be measured?

Functional Assessment data collected ( how and from whom)
Antecedent or setting event strategies
Alternative skill instruction
Response to problem behavior
Lifestyle interventions
Who will implement Interventions? When will it be implemented?

How will plan be evaluated

If we look at the intervention portion here is what it might look at for a student.

Hypothesis: John exhibits disruptive behavior when he is frustrated, especially with inferential reading comprehension tasks or writing assignments, or is asked to switch from a preferred to less preferred activity.
Antecedent or setting event strategies
Alternative skill instruction
Response to problem behavior
Lifestyle interventions
Who will implement Interventions? When will it be implemented?
  • Break the task into smaller more manageable parts
  • Before the lesson identify potentially problematic tasks and ensure extra adult support during those tasks
  • Provide choice for long writing tasks- write, scribe, type or voice-to-text.
  • Provide 5 and 1 minute warnings
  • teach how to ask for a break
  • teach relaxation techniques
  • Role play transitions with positive self-talk
  • Provide additional instruction in reading comprehension strategies
  • Teach and provide practice in typing
  • Provide reminders of expected behavior
  • Have cards to remind about taking a break and use relaxation strategies
  • do not alter task upon disruption
  • Reinforce break taking to accomplish a task.
  • if he does not complete task because of disruptive behavior, assign afterschool detention in which to complete task
  •  na
  •  all staff will implement
  • Counselor will teach relaxation techniques
  • Special ed teacher will role play transitions and help identify potentially problematic tasks
Begin immediately

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