What is Included in a Behavior Plan?
PhD, BCBA-D, NCSP
It's an age-old question. How specific should a behavior plan be? The answer to
this question is easy - very specific. Let's reflect on what a behavior plan is. A behavior
plan defines the behavior/s being targeted and how it will be addressed and changed.
Who uses the behavior plan? Teachers, paraprofessionals, other school staff, and
sometimes family members or caregivers.
Behaviors should be selected carefully. The behaviors chosen should be the most
significant. To ensure more reliable implementation and data, try not to have more than
five behaviors. Next define the behaviors. A behavior definition should include the
frequency, topography, duration, intensity, and latency of the behavior (Horner et. al.
2012). An example of this would be as follows: Tommy often hits adults with an open
hand once when prompted to complete an assignment.
Next, identify the function of the behavior. Best practice is to complete a functional
behavior assessment (FBA) before writing a behavior plan. If an FBA is completed
correctly it will define the problem behavior, identify the triggers for problem behaviors,
and identify the consequences that maintain the behavior. This will help you figure out the
function (attention, escape, escape to tangible, or sensory) and help you determine which
interventions and replacement behaviors to use based on the function.
Once the function is determined interventions are written that match the function of
the behavior. These can be antecedents and consequences. First, consider antecedents.
What can the adult change in the environment to help the students' behavior? Examples
might be extra time, transition warnings, reinforcement procedures, visual schedules,
timers, and seating arrangement to name a few. Next, write out the intervention and the
consequence. For each behavior, there should be a step by step procedure for staff to
follow in the event of that behavior.
Next. identify replacement behaviors that are more appropriate. For each behavior,
there should be a replacement behavior. For example, Tommy hits his staff every time he
needs help. A replacement behavior for this would be to have a help card sitting on
Tommy's desk. Staff would then teach Tommy to give the card to someone in place of
him hitting someone when he needs help.
After replacement behaviors, identify when the intervention and reinforcement will
be decreased and removed. A fading procedure needs to be included in the behavior
plan. For example, if Tommy goes 15 days with 5 aggressions or less his reinforcement
will go from every 30 minutes to every hour. Data should be collected daily and graphed
and analyzed weekly to monitor progress and help make data based decisions on
whether the intervention is working or not. Finally, if the data indicates the intervention
plan is not working, the team should make decisions on appropriate next steps.
Gable, R. A., Quinn, M. M., Rutherford Jr., R. B., & Howell, K. (1998). Addressing problem behaviors in schools: Use of functional assessments and behavior intervention plans. Preventing School Failure, 42, 106-113.
Horner, R. H., Sugai, G., Todd, A. W., & Lewis-Palmer, T. (2000). Elements of behavior support plans: A technical brief. Exceptionality: A Special Education Journal, 8, 205-215.
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by Pam Sharping
WHAT IS IT?
Involves showing the learner a preferred item prior to presenting the instruction. The Promise Reinforcer establishes motivation to comply with the requested transition. This will ensure that the value of problem behavior does not come to strength.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
To increase compliance during transitions.
To reduce frustration when giving up highly preferred activities.
Pairing non-preferred areas with reinforcement to reduce escape or avoidance behaviors.
WHEN CAN IT BE USED?
When it is time to transition to a less preferred activity or area. It is used with individuals that frequently display patterns of problem behavior (i.e., crying, dropping to the ground, running away, refusal) during transitions or when giving up highly preferred activities.
HOW TO IMPLIMENT?
- Determine a reinforcer that the student will want at that moment. (Example: The student just had a salty snack and likes to have a drink).
- Hold the reinforcer so the student can see it but do not make it too obvious. (Don't wave it around and say, "Look what I have", etc.)
- Give the instruction (Example: "It's time to __________", or "Come here we're going ________").
- If student follows the direction, deliver the reinforcer. If using an activity/material reinforcer, a timer or some other cue will need to be used to indicate when the activity is over.
- If the student doesn't follow through the first time the direction is given, he/she does not get the reinforcer, but the direction needs to be followed. Prompt the student as needed to complete activity.
- Initially practice short distances frequently throughout the day. For example, position chairs a few feet away and practicie moving from one chair to the other chair. Lengthen the distance over time when the student is successful.
- Fade the promise reinforcer once the student masters transition criteria set by the instructor.
- When giving up a preferred activity/object, the promise reinforcer can be use to increase compliance. To be effective, the promise reinforcer should match the value of the current reinforcer. For example, hold up small edible and say, "Give me car." If the car is given after the first directive, deliver the reinforcer. It is recommended to begin this procedure with a less valued reinforcer and move towards higher valued reinforcers over time. It is less effort to give up items of less value. When compliance is paired with reinforcement, desirable behavior will increase.
Barbera, M. L. (2009, November 8). Why do students with autism have such a difficult time with transitions? Retrieved from: http://verbalbehaviorapproach.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-do-students-with-autism-have-such.html
Kelly, A. N., Axe, J. B., Allen, R. F., and Maguire, R. W. (2015). Effects of presession pairing on the challenging behavior and academic responding of children with autism. Behavioral Interventions, 30, 135-156.
Mace, F. C., Pratt, J. L., Prager, K. L., & Pritchard, D. (2011). An evaluation of three methods saying "no" to avoid an escalating response class. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44(1), 83-94.