We often hear phrases such as, “I can’t go to the store or Johnny will run off, “ or “We can’t go to church together because they aren’t sure what to do when Sally starts hitting her head.”
Problem behavior is an ongoing struggle for most participants with disabilities. We know that all behavior is communication and so often, parents and other professionals struggle with figuring out exactly WHAT the participant is trying to communicate.
A behavior support plan may be part of the solution!
Behavior support plans (a “BSP”) start with an assessment of the individual’s needs, focusing on events (both internal and external) in the environment that may “trigger” problem behavior. After speaking with caregivers and other collaborative professionals (e.g., school staff), completing observations, and gaining an understanding of what is contributing to the problem behavior, we work with caregivers to create a plan that focuses primarily on two things: 1) developing proactive and reactive strategies that can help decrease the problem behavior, and 2) creating “replacement behavior” strategies that caregivers can systematically teach the individual so that the problem behavior no longer needs to occur in order to get needs met.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But this process takes TIME! Many participants have been through support plans, intensive ABA and other therapies. They may be in fight, freeze or flight mode and very resistant to intervention. A general rule of thumb is that for every year a problem behavior has been occurring, it may take at least a month to start seeing positive changes once the BSP is being used consistently. Here’s the really good news - caregivers are not in this alone! The FIS team pairs with caregivers to help them learn the skills necessary to implement the BSP recommendations, working through difficult situations and making changes to the plan when necessary. FIS behavior analysts work with caregivers to understand whether the plan is making a positive change or not (through collecting high quality, low effort data) and fading support over time as determined by the individual’s success.
FIS believes a full and active life is supported by nurturing caregiver relationships that help reduce the occurrence of problem behavior. The BSPs that we develop with caregivers are always research-based, always positive, and always designed with an eye towards promoting optimal community integration. Effective BSPs are individually designed, emphasize the acquisition of new skills, promote community/social integration, are culturally responsive, and include making changes to the environment as needed.
We look forward to partnering with you for positive behavior change!