|Problem: The student appears to do the first thing that comes to mind; has difficulty delaying gratification; appears to act without thinking.
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.
Control: Some students may think and act impulsively as a way of exercising control. (See Tutorials on Positive Behavior Supports; Behavior Management: Contingency Management; Behavior Management: Prevention Strategies.)
Relevant observations: The student tends to engage in apparently impulsive behavior when someone other than the student determines the situation. He may feel that he does not have any choices or that he is being “forced” to do something he does not want to do.
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 control issues (See Tutorial on Positive Behavior Supports; Behavior Management: Contingency Management): Create an environment that allows for student flexibility, choice, and control. (a) Allow the student to choose activities or components of the activity. (b) If the student completes difficult assignments when asked to, he may then choose a desirable activity (i.e., choice as a reward). ( c) Offer the student opportunities throughout the day to make decisions on his own.
- If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, then the student’s need for control may be one of the contributing factors to the student’s problem behavior. (See Tutorials on Positive Behavior Supports; Behavior Management: Contingency Management; Behavior Management: Prevention Strategies.)
Possible referrals: School psychologist or behavior specialist for behavioral assessment and behavior management strategies