Main content

Alert message

Who Do Challenging Behaviors Challenge?

Presented by: Marilyn H. Gense, Willamette ESD and D. Jay Gense, Oregon Department of Education

Things to consider...

  • The behavior
  • The age of the student
  • How long its take to teach new skills
  • Interest and motivations
  • Communication skills and systems

Things to Remember.... Behavior is Communication!!!!

Things to Determine... Function of the Behavior

Functions of behavior include:

  1. Get
    • Social Reinforcement
    • Tangible Reinforcement
  2. Escape or Avoid
    • Task
    • Situation
  3. Both (1 & 2)
  4. Communication
    • Choice
    • Understanding

Checklist For Developing Behavior Intervention Plans

  1. Identify the behavior to change
  2. Define the behavior clearly
  3. Complete a functional analysis of the behavior including frequency, intensity and/or duration
  4. Complete a reinforcer assessment
  5. Develop hypothesis
  6. Develop strategies for teaching new behaviors
  7. Develop strategies for reinforcing desired behaviors
  8. Develop data collection system
  9. Develop appropriate communication strategies
  10. Develop a crisis plan, if needed
  11. Develop process for sharing and reviewing with the team
  12. Develop procedures for generalizing skills to a variety of settings
  13. Implement, review and modify plan as needed
Functional Analysis: Targeting Behavior for Change
Target BehaviorWhere did it occur?When did it occur?With whom did it occur?How long did it last?What happened after it occurred?
Sample - Functional Analysis: Targeting Behavior for Change
Target BehaviorWhere did it occur?When did it occur?With whom did it occur?How long did it last?What happened after it occurred?
Biting Others (opening mouth, moving head toward person or making physical contact with mouth on another person) On the way to the music room 11:00 (after swimming was cancelled) IA (Sue) He made three attempts bite in one minute He sat in a chair outside of music class but did not participate.  Went to lunch as soon as music was over.
Slapping Others (reaching out arm, moving arm quickly toward another, slapping another with hand) When asked to complete a work activity at the table as teacher  was physically prompting 2:00 Teacher (Jean) 8 attempts and one connection in 5 minutes. Teacher would stop and wait for student to calm down. After completion, moved to leisure activity.
Comments:  He is quick to grab, even if you are not right next to him          
Sample: Crisis Intervention Plan
Escalation StageCrisis StageCalming Stage
  • Behavior Signals:
    • High pitched vocalizations
    • Repeated requests for food (Want treat, want treat, want treat)
    • Puffing and blowing through mouth
    • Dropping cane
    • Slapping self on chest
  • Strategies:
    • Use calm voice
    • Reduce demand
    • Complete activity if appropriate and move to a preferred activity
  • Avoid:
    • Physical contact
    • Disliked activities
    • Teacher sounding stressed and raising voice
    • Using the word no
  • Behavior Signals:
    • Biting
    • Crying and screaming
    • Throwing shoes
    • Tipping furniture over
  • Strategies:
    • In a calm yet stern voice tell T. to sit down
    • Move children
    • Move any nearby equipment and furniture out of the way
    • Reduce noise level in setting
  • Avoid:
    • Trying to talk to Student
    • Any attempt at an Activity
    • Sounding upset
    • Physical proximity
  • Behavior Signals:
    • Soft crying
    • T. vocalizing are you calm
    • Sitting on floor quietly
  • Strategies:
    • Reinforce effort to calm self
    • Assist T. to put on shoes
    • Move to chair or calm area
    • Show schedule
  • Avoid
    • Physical contact
    • Excess talking

Additional Planning:  Review data collected on crisis behavior. Review skills being taught to assure T. is being taught to communicate when he needs a break.  Review schedule to assure a good mix of preferred and non-preferred activities.   Review opportunities for choice throughout day.


Marilyn Gense
Willamette ESD
Salem, OR

Addressing Challenging Behaviors of Children Who Are Vision Impaired and Have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (125k)