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Archive for February, 2012

Hi and welcome to What Works Wednesdays where we share a success story from one of our clinical cases. All names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the child and family. Our intent is to show readers how successful ABA can be.

Today’s post is about a 4-year-old little girl named Nahir who carries a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. Nahir began receiving early intervention services early in life. She began receiving ABA services shortly after she was diagnosed with autism. She began receiving ABA services from us last year.

Nahir’s parents wanted Nahir to be a community member in her neighborhood and they wanted her to learn alongside other children her age without disabilities. We designed an ABA program that consisted of about 10 hours per week of supported inclusion and 10-15 hours per week of 1:1 ABA instruction. Nahir responded to the intervention and began showing an interest in her peers at school and she began learning many skills at home. She even began using the toilet!

After several months, Nahir’s parents wanted to increase the amount of time in inclusive settings to 20 hours per week combined with 10-15 hours of 1:1 ABA. Nahir began engaging in non-compliant behavior and her rapid learning tapered off. We discussed our concerns about this change in learning with the parents and we encouraged them to consider making a change.

As a result, the family agreed to decrease inclusion time and increase 1:1 ABA time. Watch out! Nahir’s learning took off. She began imitating, her non-compliance decreased, and she started to communicate using her new iPad and Proloquo2go.

You see, inclusion is not all or nothing. Decisions about inclusion should be made individually for each child based on his or her unique situation.

We would love to hear from readers! Share your successful ABA and inclusion stories!

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question comes from Dawn who asks:

“I have 3 situations that I need help on. My daughter is 2 and some change.

  1. She insists on turning the lights off and on repeatedly
  2. She throws her toys
  3. She tried to run out in the street

What do you recommend?”

Lights and Toys

Because I see so many children with autism, I always have my “A-dar” on. By that, I mean that I screen every child that I see by running down the red flag checklist in my head. Once I realized that Dawn’s little angel did not have any of the red flags, I recognized that the light switch game had actually become just that–a game. Dawn’s little angel learned that when she flipped the lights off and on, that Mommy instantly gave her attention.

Please know that Dawn provides her little angel with loads of attention. However, for a toddler, being able to control Mommy’s behavior is extremely powerful (and quite fun). The same holds true for toy throwing. When little angel throws toys, she is instantly reminded that only balls can be thrown. Again, instant attention from mommy. Look at my “Toddler Power”! I will also recommend that you check out our cartoon from last week. See PJ? He is up to the same old tricks. He wants his Mommy’s attention!

So, for those two behaviors, do your best to refrain from attending to the behaviors.

A) If you can tolerate the disco effect in your living when the lights are going off and on repeatedly, simply sit on the sofa and continue watching TV or reading or cooking (or whatever you may have been doing). If you have migraines and the disco lights send you over the edge, simply walk over to the light switch (without looking at your child) and cover the light switch with your hand. Do not say anything and do not look. If possible, continue the activity you were doing when the disco started (e.g., keep reading your book). As soon as your child begins an appropriate activity, count to 10 and then join her in the activity. You can tell her how happy you are to see her reading, playing, or whatever she is doing that is appropriate.

B) For the toy throwing, create a box and label it timeout. Sit your daughter down and show her the box. Explain to her that if she chooses to throw her toys, each thrown toy will be placed in timeout for the rest of the day. Every time she throws the toy, simply walk over to the toy, pick it up, and place it in timeout. Do not look at your daughter, do not say anything to her, and then return to your previous activity as if nothing happened. Repeat as often as necessary.When she is playing with toys appropriately, take a couple of minutes to sit down and play with her and tell her how you like the way she is taking care of her toys.

If your child asks to have one of the toys from timeout, simply remind her that it is in timeout for the day because she threw it. Tell her she can have it back tomorrow.

Running in to the Street

While this behavior may also be attention-seeking, a two-year-old lacks the understanding of the dangers associated with street crossing and various forms of vehicles. So, separate from an incident, be sure to begin teaching your child about street-crossing rules (e.g., always hold Mommy’s hand, always cross in a cross walk, look for the walk signal, look both ways). There are some great children’s books that can help you with this. Road Safety, Policeman’s Safety Hints, and Be Careful and Stay Safe.

If your daughter runs in to the street, get her as fast as you can without over-reacting. Bring her back to a safe place and remind her of the rules (e.g., always hold Mommy’s hand, always cross in a cross walk, look for the walk signal, look both ways).

When your daughter follows one of the rules, tell her how happy you are to see her use her rules or how smart she is for remembering her street safety.

Thanks for contacting us Dawn. Please let us know how it goes with these behaviors!

If you have questions about behavior, email Missy at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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Take a look at our picture below. (Thanks go out to Bil Keane for this wonderful cartoon (c) 1976.) See if you can guess why PJ is tantrumming. When there is a reason for a behavior, behavior analysts called it a function or a purpose. This is the first time we have tried a poll so please participate! We will post the answer tomorrow! Thanks for playing.

Let's BEE Friends

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Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, our mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. The title of today’s article is State Special Education Laws for Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans. Perry Zirkel authored the article and Behavioral Disorders published it in August, 2011 (Volume 36, number 4).

Purpose

The author set out to analyze state laws regarding Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP). For background information related to federal requirements for FBAs and BIPs, read Dr. Zirkel’s introduction. He provides information regarding the law, regulations, and federal interpretations of the law.

Method

The author searched  for state laws regarding FBAs and BIPs. Keep in mind, states may only add to federal legislation, not take away from requirements. Then he tabulated the information adding a “when”, “who”, “what”, and “how” column. Specifically, the “when” column identified if a state identified when the FBA and BIP were required. The “who” column indicated when a state identified the parties responsible for completing the FBA and developing the BIP. The “what” column indicated when a state defined the FBA and BIP. Finally, the “how” column identified when a state included information about how to complete an FBA and BIP.

Results

Key finding #1. Thirty-one of the states have requirements regarding FBAs and BIPs.

Key finding #2. Twelve of the 31 states fail to identify both the “who” and the “when”.

Key finding #3. Zero of the 31 states require both an FBA and a BIP when a child’s behavior interferes with the child’s learning or that of others. May we note that this seems absurd to us? How can a BIP be developed without an FBA? And how could an FBA not result in a BIP? We are terribly saddened by this finding.

Key finding #4. Only 2 states provided information about how to complete both an FBA and BIP. Meanwhile 12 states provided some information about how to complete a BIP.

Key finding #5. Seventeen states define FBAs and BIPs with only 14 of the 17 mentioning “function” with regards to FBA.

Conclusions

As parents, teachers, behavior analysts, and/or advocates for children with behavioral challenges, we have a duty to make changes at the state level to ensure that students are protected with policies that will result in appropriate assessment and intervention. Protective policies regarding FBAs and BIPs will most likely prevent the use of scream rooms and other inappropriate behavior reduction techniques.

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Hi and welcome to What Works Wednesdays where we share a success story from one of our clinical cases. All names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the child and family. Our intent is to show readers how successful ABA can be.

Today’s post is a follow-up for a case we have described previously. You should read the original post first to gain a full understanding of how far this child and his family have come.

Many blogs do Wordless Wednesdays where they simply post a picture with no words. Yes, we realize we have already written words, but you need them to fully understand the photo. February marks one year since Nathan had behavioral feeding therapy. This is a picture from his meal from last week. As you can see, he is going strong! This meal consists of  artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, Brussels sprouts, olives, brown rice, chicken, sausage, and garlic. What you cannot see is the side of broccoli steamed with lemon juice. Bravo Nathan! You are doing great and your mom and dad are an invaluable support team.

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We have been to a number of IEP meetings where the results of a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) were presented. You won’t believe some of the things we have heard! Check out this list:

  1. Your child doesn’t need an FBA. FBAs are for children who have severe emotional problems.
  2. Here is our FBA form, let’s fill it out so we can write the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
  3. You cannot ask for an independent FBA. An FBA is not an assessment.
  4. We finished your child’s FBA. The function of your child’s behavior is anxiety.
  5. We finished your child’s FBA. The function of your child’s behavior is control.
  6. We tried to do an FBA but your child does not have any behaviors.
  7. I don’t know how to graph your child’s functional analysis results. They didn’t teach me how to graph in school.
  8. We don’t need a behavior analyst to do the FBA. Our special education teacher took a class on behavior. She can do it.
  9. Why did your report say the child escaped? Our staff keep children within arm’s length at  all times.

And the number 1 craziest thing we have heard about FBAs:

10. We cannot do an FBA as part of the initial evaluation. We have to see how he behaves in special education first.

Please share! What crazy things have you been told about an FBA? Behavior analysts, what have you heard?

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question actually comes from a list serve rather than an actual email to me directly.

A number of parents have been discussing the issue of scream rooms or seclusion timeout rooms. If you are interested in reading about this more, please check out our previous posts on the topic here, here, here, and here.

As part of the discussion about these rooms, a number of people mentioned the importance of having a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) done combined with developing an appropriate behavior plan. Other people then posted about the importance of a functional analysis. That is when a parent asked,

“Could you please explain the difference between an FBA (functional behavior assessment) and a Functional Analysis?” “Also, please explain who can do a functional analysis and why it’s important you get a qualified person to do it.”

We have written about FBAs on this blog before. We described an FBA here, we described when to do an FBA here, and we reviewed some legal cases on FBA here.

So, for a recap, remember:

The FBA is a multi-step process that may include some or all of the following:
A good FBA will include a graph summarizing the observations and/or functional analysis.
The FBA should result in a statement or statements that tell you WHY the child is engaging in the behavior.
Additionally, according to federal special education law, an FBA must be completed under these conditions:
  • If, during the IEP meeting, the team determines that the child has a behavior that is impeding his/her learning (or that of others)
  • If the child’s placement needs to become more restrictive because of the challenging behaviors
  • If the child’s behavior has resulted in an emergency change of placement
  • As part of the initial and full evaluation if necessary
What is a Functional Analysis?
 The functional analysis is one step or possible component of the FBA. The functional analysis is a manipulation of events to PROVE why the behavior is happening. For example, if the assessment data suggests that a child may be attention seeking with his/her behavior, then the functional analysis will be implemented so that in one condition, the child is given a toy immediately following the challenging behavior but in the comparison condition, the child is given attention immediately following the challenging behavior. Then, the behavior analyst will count and graph the number of times the child engaged in challenging behavior in each condition. If the child is truly attention seeking, the rates of challenging behavior will be higher when the child receives attention for his/her behavior when compared to rates when the child received a toy following his/her behavior.
I have simplified the description of the analysis in order to show readers the difference between an FBA and a functional analysis. Many functional analysis conditions can be completed and they may be quite complicated depending on the child’s behavior and other relevant information.
By definition, a functional analysis results in an increase in challenging behavior in some or all conditions. Thus, only appropriately trained people should oversee the design and implementation of such conditions. Additionally, the functional analysis results may be influenced by the implementor, the setting, the language in which the instructions are given, and other variables. Thus, the functional analysis should be completed in conditions that are as close to the natural setting as possible (including people, materials, and location).
Finally, the functional analysis ALWAYS results in a graph depicting the results of the analysis.
I hope this helps clarify the difference between the two procedures.
If you have questions about behavior be sure to email Missy at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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