|Problem: The student engages in off-task and possibly distracting behavior.
|Cognitive/Self-Regulatory Possibility: Difficulty Attending.
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
Some students may engage in off-task and possibly distracting behavior in the classroom as a result of difficulty attending (See Tutorial on Attention).
Relevant observations: The student does not maintain focus on one activity at a time. The student frequently ‘fidgets’ and may have difficulty completing tasks or comprehending tasks. This behavior may interfere with the student’s ability to learn and retain information.
- 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.
- Possible attention teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Attention): Create an environment that provides support for the student to maintain attention. Examples: (a) The student may benefit from a quiet, distraction-free area to complete assignments; (b) Attention-focusing printed cues, timers, or other external strategies may help; ( c) Frequent changes in activity may help focus attention; (d) It may be beneficial to reward the student for on-task behavior; (e) With younger students, a game can be made out of maintaining focus.
- If the off-task behavior decreases as a result of the intervention, then this student’s difficulty with attention may be contributing to the problem behavior. (See Tutorial on Attention)
Possible referrals: Physician (to explore possible neurological basis), school psychologist for assessment of attentional functioning