Addressing The Educational Need of Children With Challenging Behaviors: Peer Review Research On Behavior Intervention Plan

Elements of a Behavioral Intervention Plan[i]

 Teach more acceptable replacement behaviors that serve the same function as the inappropriate behavior, e.g. using conflict resolution skills, coping strategies, alternative skills.[ii]

  1. Teach students to deal with setting events such as the physical arrangement of the classroom, seating arrangements, sequence of academic instruction.
  2. Manipulate the antecedents to the desired behavior, e.g. teacher   instruction and directions.
  3. Manipulate consequences of the desired behavior, e.g. precise praise or feedback, and keeping in mind the principles of shaping and reinforcing incompatible behaviors.
  4. Implement changes to the classroom curriculum or instructional strategies  e.g. encouraging oral rather than written responses.
  5. Begin interventions that offer reinforcement of appropriate behavior, e.g. group motivational strategies.
  6. Modifying the learning environment.
  7. Example form for positive behavioral intervention plan.

How to Develop and Implement Behavioral Intervention Plan

After the IEP team has completed its functional behavioral assessment, and gathered other information to identify the likely function of the student’s behavior, a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) can be developed. The BIP will include, when appropriate: (1) strategies, including positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports; and (2) program modifications; and (3) supplementary aids and services that may be required to address the program behavior.   An effective BIP will emphasize skills that students require in order to behave in a more appropriate manner, and provide motivation for the student to conform to required standards.  Thus, a BIP is more than a tool to control behavior. Positive intervention plans that teaches the student new ways to behave will address both the source of the problem, and the problem itself. [iii]

Strategies to Address Different Functions of a Student’s Behavior. A student’s behavior may be affected by internal, external, or a combination of both. Belinda might study to obtain a good grade (external) and a feeling of success (internal). Keshawn may avoid a test by feigning an illness (external) and the bad feeling that he has when receiving poor test results (internal). Strategies can be employed to determine the possible motivations for these behaviors. [iv]

Strategies for Dealing with Attention-Seeking Behavior. Attention seeking is often a by-product of misbehavior and not the primary function. A student may engage in attention seeking behavior because he or she is not likely to receive the desired attention in any other way. One strategy is to teach the student various ways to secure positive peer social interactions and or receive teacher praise. Role playing can be introduced to teach the student appropriate things to say (e.g. I need help on this problem) instead of swearing, yelling at a classmate, or ignoring a teacher’s request). It is very important to understand the amount of time a student will wait for the attention he or she needs. Students can be taught to tolerate a longer waiting times. Other strategies include: (1) keep student from engaging in original problem behavior; (2) teach replacement behavior; (3) ensure student has enough opportunity to engage in new replacement behavior; and (4)offered adequate opportunity for student to be reinforced for new behavior.[i]

Strategies for Dealing with Escape-Motivated Behavior.  Examples of escape motivated behavior are when a student avoids lengthy or difficult assignments, avoids working in groups a student does not like, avoids negative peer or adult interactions, and avoids wanting to be removed from friends in class. Strategies to address these avoidance issues are to teach the student to use socially acceptable escape behavior (e.g. asking for help). If a student cannot timely complete an assignment because he or she lacks the skills to do it, the original assignment should be replaced with another assignment that is within the student’s skill level, or strategies used to provide the student with direct instruction or working with peers. The IEP team may address avoidance behavior by allowing a student to leave after attempting an acceptable way to leave the situation. An incentive may be used to reward the student to remain at an undesirable task. Other useful interventions may include: asking the student to use correct behavior to ask for additional assistance, teacher signals student to use predetermined alternative behavior, and making curricular accommodations or instructional modifications. [vi]

Addressing Skill Deficits: Working With Students Who Lack Skills.  A functional behavioral assessment may reveal that a student is acting inappropriately because he or she lacks the requisite skills or believes that inappropriate behavior is effecting in allowing the student to avoid an unpleasant task. A positive behavior plan would allow the student to determine positive and negative examples of what conduct is expected.   If a student does not know how to perform the expected behavior, an intervention plan should include instruction to teach those skills. It may be necessary to teach the student both behavioral and cognitive skills, and for the IEP team to conduct a task analysis that breaks down the skill into its components parts of the individual behaviors that comprise the skill.[vii] A student may also be unable to appropriately deal with the aggressive verbal behavior of a peer. The student can be taught to recognize the verbal behavior (words or action) that may lead to aggression, and discern whether the student provokes aggressive behavior. Role playing is another way to teach the student ways to defuse the situation, along with learning the choice of walking away or seeking assistance from others. Overt teacher modeling of self-control in conjunction with guided and independent practice, and individual or small or group discussion of “when and how to” strategies may prove effective techniques.[viii]

Addressing Performance Deficits: Working With Student Who Have Skills But Do Not Use Them. An IEP may sometimes determine that the student knows the skills necessary to perform the behavior, but does not consistently use these skills. Assuming these facts, the intervention plan should include strategies, and supports designed to increase the student’s use of the behavior. If the functional behavioral assessment shows that the student is engaging in misbehavior because he or she believes the behavior is more desirable than the alternative accepted behavior, the intervention plan should contain techniques for addressing this belief. [ix]Other times a student that does not perform the behavior because he or she does not see a good reason to do so. If Pedro can avoid feeling ridiculed by threatening or hitting peers, he may not see an advantage of interacting positively with peers. The intervention plan, therefore, may include strategies to increase his use of existing skills to interact appropriately with peers. It may also be necessary to prompt peers to initiate play with Pedro and to reinforce both his and his peers from engaging in positive social exchanges.[x]

Student Supports As Part of the Behavioral Intervention Plan.  As required by the IDEA, intervention plans must contain supports, if appropriate, for the student. Supports are different from interventions in that they are designed to address factors beyond the immediate context in which the inappropriate behavior occurs. Supports such as counselors and school psychologists, can be used as supports to help the student address academic or personal issues that may contribute to the problem behaviors. Other supports include: (1) peers for providing academic and behavioral support through tutoring and conflict-resolution activities; [xi] (2) families, who provide support through setting up homework centers at home and developing a homework schedule; (3) teachers and paraprofessionals, who may provide academic and curricular modifications to address and decrease a student’s desire to avoid a task or assignment; (4) language specialists, who are able to increase a student’s expressive and receptive language skills that can provide alternative ways to respond to an aggressive or stressful situation; (5) other school staff, including cafeteria workers and volunteers, with who the student may feel more comfortable with; (6) community agency service providers, including mental health, Big Brother and Sister organizations, or other social service agency personnel who can provide long-term student and family intervention and support; and (7) other community organizations such as religious groups, cultural and ethnic organizations, YMCA or YWCA, and recreation centers which can provide therapy and support. Also, an IEP team can make referrals and obtain medical evaluations so that other options can be considered.[xii]

Reinforcement of Appropriate Student Behavior Reinforcement for using the appropriate replacement behavior is a critical component of the intervention plan. The IEP team can use baseline data to determine the frequency with which the behavior occurred and was reinforced. The IEP team can develop an intervention plan so that the student is reinforced more for the replacement behavior than he or she is for the problem behavior. School personnel should reinforce appropriate behavior at least twice as often as the problem behavior was reinforced. [xiii] In determining the best reinforcer to use, knowledge of the student’s preferences and strengths is important. For example, knowledge that the student prefers time using a computer, or engaging in certain extracurricular activities is instrumental in using these reinforcing activities as replacement behavior. The amount and frequency of the delivery of the reinforcer, in relationship to the amount of effort required of the student to understand and conform his behavior to the written standards, are salient variables for the IEP team to consider when developing an intervention plan. Another consideration is offering the student non-contingent access to a reinforcer especially if the student has not previously had access to it. [xiv]If the desired response calls for a dramatic change in the student’s behavior, the IEP team will need to accept successive approximations or gradual changes toward the desired behavior. This means teaching the student gradual steps to deal with the situation. This may include teaching the student self-control, for example, to master and complete academic assignments and to solicit peer support. Another final consideration is the use of fading or gradually replacing extrinsic rewards with intrinsic ones on a natural time schedule. Fading occurs only when the student has shown an inclination and willingness to engage in appropriate behavior.[xv]

Emergency Component of a Behavioral Intervention Plan.  Where it is shown that the student is likely to engage in dangerous behavior, the IEP team should develop an emergency plan. This component of the intervention plan should continue to employ positive interventions to teach the student alternative skills. An emergency is defined as a situation requiring an immediate or restrictive intervention to” (1) protect the student from injuring himself or others; (2) safeguarding school property or the personal property of others; and (3) severe interruption of the learning environment.[xvi]The emergency plan should include conditions under which the plan should be invoked, frequent evaluations to limit the duration of the plan that does not produce positive behavioral changes, and a scheduling of phasing out the emergency plan. Emergency plans should be invoked only when less instructive and restrictive interventions have been unsuccessful. Less restrictive and intrusive intervention options should be employed as soon as possible. Parents , guardians, and school personnel should notified of any incident that triggers the use of the emergency plan. The IEP should evaluate and assess both the impact and positive negative consequences of the emergency plan. The IEP team should write a report after the emergency situation that indicates ways to prevent future occurrence of the behavior. And parental input and consent must be obtained before developing and implementing the emergency plan.[xvii]

Evaluating and Monitoring the Behavior Intervention Plan.  The IEP team should include two evaluation procedures in the plan. One procedure is monitor the implementation of the plan. This means determining the consistency and accuracy with which the plan is implemented. Another procedure is to develop lists that detail the responsibilities of each individual participating in the implementation of the plan. The list may specify both verbal and non-verbal responses organized according to antecedent and consequence events. Monitoring should be periodic (3-5 business days) to ensure faithfulness to the plan’s implementation. Monitoring may also reveal an effect on non-targeted behaviors so collecting this information may be useful. The plan should also be reevaluated any time a member of the student’s IEP team, including the parent, believes that a review is necessary. This may occur when: (1) the student has obtained his or her goals and objectives or new ones should be written; (2) interventions no longer address the current needs of the student; (3) there is a change of placement; or (4) the behavior plan is no longer producing positive changes in the student’s behavior. Finally, the IEP team should evaluate the effectiveness of the plan by measuring the behavior (baseline) prior to the intervention, and then measure the behavior once the intervention has been implemented. This information will be used a standard against subsequent changes in the student’s behavior, measured through progress checks.[xviii]

[i]  Quinn, Mary M., Gable, Robert A., Rutherford, Robert B., Howell, Kenneth W., and    Hoffman, Catherine C. (1998). Addressing Student Problem Behavior, Part III- Creating Positive Behavioral Intervention Plans and Supports.

[ii]   Levendoski, L.S. (2000). Self-Monitoring for Elementary School Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances: Classroom Applications for Increased Academic Responding. Behavioral Disorders, 25(3), 211-224. “Self-monitoring is defined as a means of actively involving students in the learning process by having them monitor their own behavior.” Prater, M.A., Joy R., Chilman, B. Temple, J., & Miller, S. (1991). Self-monitoring of on-task behavior by adolescents with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 14, 164-177. Empirical evidence shows that self-monitoring is an effective device or increasing on-task behaviors. Levendoski, L.S. (2000), at p. 211.

[iii]   Id. at 6.

[iv]   Id. at 8.

[i]   Id. 8-9.

[v]   Id. 8-9.

[vi]   Id. at 9-10. Time-out may be counterproductive to address avoidance behavior because it may reinforce student to avoid or escape the situation.

[vii]   Id. at 11.

[viii]   Id. at 11.

[ix]   Id. at 12.

[x]   Id. at 12.

[xi]   See, Blake, C., & Wang, W., Cartledge, G., & Gardner, R. (2000). Middle School Students with Serious Emotional Disturbances as Social Skills Trainers and Reinforcers for Peers with SED. Behavioral Disorders, 25(4), 280-289. There are three types of peer-mediated interventions: proximity, prompt/reinforce, and peer initiation. Proximity interventions rely on the natural interaction of withdrawn students and socially competent peers. Prompt/reinforce interventions involve teaching students to use prompts and social reinforcements to increase positive social behaviors of peers with skill deficiencies. Peer-initiated interventions employ a nonreciprocal pattern in which one child is trained to carry out a disproportionate share of responsibility to interact with withdrawn student. Socially competent peer are instructed to interact with the targeted  student(s). Well-trained students take a role of a teacher-to-teacher specific skills to small groups of peers or classmates.

[xii]   Id. at 13.

[xiii]   Id.

[xiv] Id. at 14.

[xv]   Id.

[xvi]   Id. at 16.

[xvii]   Id. at 16-17.

[xviii]   Id. at 16-17.