A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student can write or type words, but does not seem to be able to generate organized, coherent, and adequately long written compositions.
Cognitive / Self-Regulatory Possibility:
Inhibition impairment

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.

Inhibition impairment: Some students may have written composition problems as a result of inhibition impairment (i.e., impulse-control problems). (See Tutorials on Self-Regulation, Inhibition.)

Relevant Observations: The student may have difficulty inhibiting her impulses. She frequently acts without thinking first. She has difficulty resisting environmental temptations. She may later regret angry words or actions. It may be difficult for her to organize her behavior, her thinking, and her talking. She may be unable to resist impulses to focus on other activities when she should be reading. She may have general difficulty with problem solving.

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 inhibition-related teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorials on Inhibition; Self-Regulation/Executive Function Routines): Create an environment that provides self-regulatory support for the student. Examples: Routine impulse-regulation prompts may be useful (e.g., task reminders; rule reminders). Specifically it may be useful to remind the student at the beginning of a task that she is capable of doing the work. Create external organizational support, such as a graphic organizer. Do the task in small discrete steps. Create a schedule that is placed on the student’s desk for her to refer to for transitions and activities. Give the student extra time on tasks. Prompt asking for help as a general problem-solving strategy.
  3. If written composition improves during intervention, it may be that this student’s problem behaviors are in part a result of inhibition impairment. (See Tutorials on Inhibition; Self-Regulation/Executive Function Routines)

Possible referrals: School psychologist for self-regulation assessment; instructional support specialist for instructional strategies; behavior specialist for behavior management strategies

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