A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student hits, shoves, or pushes peers and/or adults, or uses aggressive or threatening language.
Cognitive/Self-Regulatory Possibility:
Weak understanding of and perception of others’ responses to aggressive behavior.

Step 1: Organize observations relevant to the problematic behavior/issue

  • Who is reporting the problem?
  • When does it occur? (Include time of day, activities etc).
  • Where does it occur?
  • What tends to precede the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What tends to follow the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What is the age and functioning level of the student?
  • Previous documentation/charts?

Step 2: Identify possible contributors to the problematic behavior/issue

In many cases, there are several contributors to the student’s identified problem. These contributors may interact with each other, therefore, it may be necessary to combine tests from different categories of possibilities. The existence of several interacting contributors may become obvious as you proceed through individual intervention experiments.

Weak understanding of and perception of others’ responses to aggressive behavior: Some students may be aggressive as a result of uncertainty regarding what behaviors are socially acceptable and how others react to their behavior. They may not understand that peers become upset in response to their aggressive behavior and that such behavior reduces their chances for peer acceptance and friendship. They may “misread” peers’ responses to their behavior. (See Tutorials on Social Competence; Social Perception; Friendship and Peer Acceptance.)

Relevant observations: The student indicates that he wants to have friends and expresses regret after being aggressive in relation to peers. The student appears to have difficulty “reading” peers’ reactions to his behavior. He may also misread peers’ behavior as aggressive in relation to him.

Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:

  1. Observe and record the frequency and/or intensity of the problem behavior when a new teaching strategy or support is being implemented versus when it is not being implemented.
  2. Possible intervention strategies or supports to explore: Create an environment in which reactions to behavior are made clear. For example, have peers tell the student how his aggressive behavior makes them feel. Remind the student of others’ reactions before social interactions. Remind the student that peers are acting in a friendly way. Cue the student to interact in a positive manner. Remind peers to respond in a friendly way to the student’s positive behaviors. In ways such as this, ensure that the student has every opportunity to understand the effects on others of his negative and his positive behaviors.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that the problem behavior is in part a result of weak social understanding and social perception.

Possible referrals: Social worker, counselor, school psychologist, or speech-language pathologist for social skills and social perception assessment and intervention; behavior specialist for behavior management strategies.

A program of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

Copyright 2006, by
The Brain Injury Association of New York State
10 Colvin Avenue, Albany, NY 12206 - Phone: (518) 459-7911 - Fax: (518) 482-5285

.Designed and Powered by Camelot Media Group.