ADD and the Behavior Intervention Plan
The first step toward developing a behavior intervention plan is to acknowledge that there might be a behavior that needs changing. This occurs by completing a functional assessment of behavior. Take data on the child’s behavior in a variety of settings. Some data should focus on the frequency of the various behaviors. Other data needs to show the intensity and duration of his behaviors. Interviews could be conducted with people who work with the child. What happens just before the behavior occurs? After the behavior happens, what occurs? After all of the data is accumulated, you should be able to make a hypothesis about the function of the behavior. What does the child get or escape from by continuing that behavior?
Once you have developed a hypothesis about the function of the behavior, you can build a plan to change the behavior. This plan teaches a replacement behavior. Ideally, this new behavior is one that does not allow the child to continue the problematic behavior. The two behaviors are mutually exclusive.
Identify the behavior that you want to change and its replacement behavior. For students with ADD, the typical behaviors that need to be changed involve impulsive behaviors. Develop the environmental supports that can help to make the change possible. Environmental supports are the structures that are in place in a setting to help the child be successful in learning the new behavior and extinguishing the problematic behavior.
Who will teach the replacement behavior? Where will the behavior be taught? What methods will be used? Your knowledge of the child and how he learns is important during this process. Actually teaching the replacement behavior is important. It needs to be directly taught in a way that the child will accept. People who are expected to help with the teaching and monitor the plan also need to be able to implement their part of the procedure. If the process is overly painful, the child will not accept the teaching and the plan will fail. Find a way to teach the replacement behavior that all who are involved in the teaching will be able to accept.
Any good behavior intervention plan needs exceptional reinforcers. These are the rewards that the student receives for following the plan and learning the new behavior. One misstep that often happens in this phase of the plan development is for adults to generate the reinforcements without regard to the student’s desires. If the student is not involved, an adult that knows the student’s preferences needs to be a part of the team. Rewards, thoughtfully chosen and judiciously applied, are a powerful agent to help a child learn new behaviors. At first, the rewards need to be applied at consistent and frequent intervals. Later, as the child has made the new behavior part of his temperament, the rewards can come less frequently and at varying intervals. Eventually, the rewards can be faded out, in most cases.
What happens when the child reverts to the old behavior that needs to be changed? Then, you need a set of reactive strategies. These strategies are what transpires when the child is not following the plan. Reactive strategies do not need to be punitive. They should lead the child to think about the available choices and to correct the behavior by making a better choice. It is often helpful to build in time frames for the child to make a better choice. A familiarity with the child and the setting where the behavior intervention plan will be used is necessary to develop these reactive strategies.
For optimum success, the child needs to be involved in this whole process. Most children can identify the behavior that causes them the most trouble in each setting that they are in. The child knows what supports that they need to make changes. They can help you develop reinforcers and a reinforcement schedule that will work for them. Remember, that it doesn’t matter how reinforcing that you feel some reward is, if a child does not want or need the reinforcer, it will not work. Find out what the child actually wants and how often he needs to be reinforced. Interview the child. Do not let the child opt out of this part of developing the plan.
A behavior intervention plan can be a powerful teaching tool for a child with Attention Deficit Disorder, or it can be a problem for all concerned. A poorly made behavior intervention plan makes a child feel punished. It is hard to implement and monitor. If your child needs a behavior intervention plan in the school or home setting, be involved in its development. The best behavior intervention plans have input from all of the concerned parties and help the child learn to make the best possible choices in their behavior.
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Here is an important resource for helping children with Attention Deficit Disorder. I purchased my own copy from Amazon.
How To Reach And Teach Children with ADD/ADHD: Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions (J-B Ed: Reach and Teach)
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