A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student rarely sits still; may leave his desk without permission; frequently fidgets; appears to have difficulty paying attention (focusing, maintaining attention, shifting attentional focus, dividing attention) in academic or other domains.
Cognitive/Self Regulatory Possibility: Weak orientation to task

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 orientation to task: Some students may have difficulty sitting still as a result of uncertainty regarding what is required of them. (See Tutorials on Language Comprehension; Organization.)

Relevant observations: The student may look to other students for guidance. He may frequently fail to follow directions. He may appear lost and confused.

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 direction-following teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Language Comprehension): Create an environment that allows for instructional support. This may include (a) simplifying and repeating the directions or giving the student directions in both written and verbal form; (b) creating a visual schedule for the student to follow so that she knows exactly what she should be doing and when she should be doing it; ( c) creating a buddy system so that the student can follow the lead of another student. In ways such as this, ensure that the student has every opportunity to be oriented to the task and succeed.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that the problem behavior is a result of confusion, disorganization, weak language comprehension, or lack of task orientation. (See Tutorials on Instructional Routines, Language Comprehension.)

Possible referrals: Instructional support specialist for instructional strategies; speech-language pathologist for language assessment

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

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The Brain Injury Association of New York State
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