A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student engages in off-task and possibly distracting behavior.
Social-Emotional Possibility: Lack positive relationships with peers and/or adults

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 because they lack positive relationships with peers and/or adults. (See Tutorial on Peer Relationships.)

Relevant observations: The student does not appear to have friends, may sit by herself, and may not be involved in group social activities. She may exhibit difficulty interacting with peers. The student may often be seen working or playing independently while others are in groups. The student’s parents may appear disengaged from the student and may not appear to be involved with the student’s academics or daily life.

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 peer-relation teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Peer Relations): Try to increase the likelihood of positive peer interaction. For example, partner the student with a carefully selected “peer buddy”. Have the two students work together and attend activities such as lunch, gym and recess together. Preset the student with scripted social interaction routines. Create a “Friendship Group” in which positive peer interactions are taught.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, then it may be that the off-task behaviors were caused by limited or uncomfortable peer social interaction. (See Tutorial on Peer Relationships.)

Possible referrals: School psychologist, counselor

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

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