|Problem: The student engages in off-task and possibly distracting behavior.
|Behavioral Possibility: Sensory Over-Stimulation Or Sensory Under-Stimulation
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 result of sensory over-stimulation or sensory under-stimulation.
Relevant observations: Some students tend to engage in off-task and possibly distracting behavior when in the presence of increased environmental stimulation (e.g., flickering lights, high activity levels, unusual or distracting noises). Other students tend to engage in off-task or possibly distracting behavior in an effort to increase stimulation.
Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:
- 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 exploratory teaching strategies or supports for disorders of sensory stimulation: For students who appear to be over-stimulated: keeping tasks constant, reduce distractions as much as possible. For students who appear to be under-stimulated: Precede academic tasks with interesting sensory or motor tasks. Alternatively, allow sensory or motor activity during academic tasks (e.g., tap a pencil, hold an object).
- If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, then the student’s over- or under-stimulation may be a contributing factor to the student’s problem behavior. Planned management of the sensory environment may be essential. (See Tutorial on Positive Behavior Supports; Behavior Management: Contingency Management.)
Possible referrals: School psychologist or behavior specialist for behavioral assessment and behavior management strategies, occupational therapist for sensory evaluation and management strategies