A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student can read (decode) words, but does not seem to understand what he reads, especially with longer reading materials.
Behavioral Possibility: Attention or sympathy seeking

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.

Attention or sympathy seeking: Some students may do poorly on academic tasks as a means of obtaining adult and/or peer attention or sympathy. (See Tutorials on Attention; Behavior Management: Prevention Strategies; Behavior Management: Contingency Management)

Relevant observations: The student may engage in the problem behavior in front of others. The student may tell others about the problem behavior in a manner that seems designed to obtain attention or sympathy.

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 exploratory teaching strategies or supports for attention seeking (See Tutorial on Attention): Create an environment that provides ample attention to the student. For example, the student may be given a leadership role at home and in the classroom. Or adults may give special attention to the student on a regular basis.
  3. If reading comprehension improves during intervention, it may be that this student’s problem behavior is in part a result of attention-seeking. (See Tutorials on Attention; Behavior Management: Prevention Strategies; Behavior Management: Contingency Management)

Possible referrals: School psychologist or behavior specialist for behavioral assessment and behavior management strategies; counselor for counseling

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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