|Problem: The student appears to perseverate or get stuck doing the same activity over and over or saying the same thing or feeling the same emotion; may have difficulty transitioning from place to place or activity to activity; requests to change topics or activities may be greeted with negative behavior; changes in routine cause problems; the student appears to be inflexible. (See Tutorial on Flexibility.)
|Cognitive / Self-Regulatory Possibility: General slowness in information processing
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.
General slowness in information processing: Some students may appear to be inflexible and engage in ritualistic behavior as a result of general slowness in information processing. (See Tutorial on Slow Information Processing.)
Relevant observations: The student may request extra time. He may routinely be behind. He may produce responses after the class has moved on to another topic. He may routinely perform better when given extra time.
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 processing rate-related teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorials on Slow Processing; Instructional Routines): Create an environment that allows for instructional support. This may include (a) slowing and repeating the directions or giving the student directions in both written and verbal form; (b) making certain that the student has processed the information before moving on; ( c) making certain that the student repeats the information when it is first given; (d) giving extra time. In ways such as this, ensure that the student has every opportunity to process information and produce responses.
- If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that the problem behavior is in part a result of slowed processing. (See Tutorials on Slow Processing; Instructional Routines, Language Comprehension.)
Possible referrals: Instructional support specialist for instructional strategies; speech-language pathologist for language assessment