Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s question comes from Gwen who writes:
“My high functioning 7-year-old is in mainstream 1st grade with an aide. Her biggest problem is laughing and saying, “No!” as an attempt to avoid working. She is not disruptive enough to be sent to the resource room, yet she is non-compliant which is not appropriate for general education. Our ABA team has tried token systems and they did not work.They tried PEC cards for “quiet time” and “stop talking” but those strategies did not work.
At home, I simply say in a firm voice, “It’s time to work” and she does it. She may giggle and say repeatedly, “all done!” but the work is completed and it is usually correct!
Do you have any tips for us? She is simply running over them”
Hi Gwen! thanks for coming back to visit. We are sorry to hear that you are having troubles with your daughter’s behavior. Let’s talk about a few things.
Function of Behavior not Form
First, so many times teachers and other professionals fall in to the trap of treating a behavior based on its form (how it looks–or what behavior analysts call topography of the behavior). However, we should not attend to the form of the behavior as much as we should attend to its function (the result of the behavior).
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
We cannot effectively address a behavior without first knowing it’s function (why is your daughter doing this?). We typically understand the function by taking careful ABC data. We could also do some manipulations if necessary to prove why she is doing the behavior.
Based on what you’ve told me, it seems that she is getting an awful lot of attention for her behavior (e.g., “no talking” and “quiet time” contingent on the behavior). If that is the case, a simple intervention of attending to her for good behavior (i.e., attending and working) and ignoring the junk behavior (i.e., work refusal and laughing) should be effective. Both techniques should be used in combination to ensure effectiveness of the intervention.
Seat work time. Your daughter laughs and says, “no”.
The teacher and aide should immediately turn their backs to her and instead give all of their attention to the other kids in class who are working quietly. The adults should say “I like how Johnny is working quietly” and “Suzie, you are doing great quiet work”
When your daughter is quiet and working, the teacher or the aide should immediately turn to her and give her praise for working quietly.
The teacher may want to consider a class-wide reinforcement system so that all the children can be rewarded for staying on task and completing work
Keep me posted on how things go!!