Does your child with autism or another disability have behavioral difficulties at school that interfere with their education? Would you like to learn a few things that you and can do, to improve your child’s school behavior? This article will discuss a few things that you and school personnel can do together to increase your child’s positive school behavior. By improving their school behavior, their education will also be positively affected.
Tip 1: Learn about the ABC’s of your child’s behavior. A stands for Antecedent; what is occurring in the environment before and at the time of the behavior. B stands for the specific behavior that your child is having. The behavior must be described in concrete terms. For example: Mary hits children in her class when she cannot be first in line. C stands for consequences; what happens because of the behavior. Does your child get out of hard academics, or do they get to go to the principal’s office, whom they like etc?
Tip 2: Have school personnel track the behavior for one week, determining what the ABC’s are. You need to know where the behavior is occurring and where it is not. This will help you in the next step of figuring out what your child is receiving from the behavior.
Tip 3: Have a trained special education person conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) on your child, to determine what the child is getting from the behavior. The person conducting the FBA, must come up with a hypothesis of what your child is gaining from the behavior. Some school districts use checklists, which do not come up with a hypothesis and are therefore useless. At the end of a correctly developed FBA, you will have an idea what your child receives by continuing to have the negative behavior.
Tip 4: Use the information from the FBA to develop a positive behavioral plan.
The plan could include a token system, if this is appropriate for your child. This is not a plan to punish, but to increase positive behavior, which in turn will decrease negative behavior. The positive behavior plan must be used consistently if it is to be effective.
IDEA 2004 requires that IEP teams consider the use of positive behavioral supports and plans if a child’s behavior interferes with their education. A lot of information on FBA’s is available from various disability organizations.
Tip 5: Update the positive behavioral plan as often as needed so that it continues to be effective in increasing your child’s positive behavior.
Tip 6: Insist that a daily behavior sheet be developed, and sent home daily with your child. The sheet should be on one page and contain: name, date, behavior to be worked on, token system if needed, how well the child did on that particular day, any rewards won, and also a section for positive comments only. This will keep you up to date on your child’s behavior, in case it deteriorates! Keep the behavioral sheets in case a dispute develops later with special education personnel.
You must insist, that your school district not use punishment, to try and improve your child’s school behavior. Punishment only works in the short term to change behavior; but you want a long term solution to behavioral difficulties. The use of these tips will put your child on the right track to improving their school behavior.