Identifying Behavioral Problems

Identifying Behavioral Problems using the RTI Model is highly advised. In any instance, using the RTI Model (Response to Intervention Model) ensures that the problem solving process is efficient and effective. When it comes to identifying and correcting behavioral problems in children and teenagers, promptness is essential.


Steps to Take for Identifying Behavioral Problems

What follows is a step by step guide to identifying behavioral problems in a manner that will facilitate the development of appropriate intervention strategies.

Step 1: Determine the following dimensions:

·      Frequency – How often does the behavior occur in a set period of time?

·      Duration – How long does the behavior last once it is taking place?

·      Intensity – How intense or severe is the behavior?

·      Discrepancy – How much change is necessary?

The discrepancy is determined by considering the difference between the current and the desired levels of performance; the larger the discrepancy, the larger the problem. For example, if the current frequencies of disruptive/noncompliant behavior 5 time in one day and the desired is 1 time per day, then the discrepancy is 4 occurrences or 80% discrepancy between current and desired levels of performance.

Once you have taken the time to consider these factors, you will have a firmer handle on the problem behavior; therefore the solutions you derive are more likely to be focused and effective.

Step 2: Create an Operational Definition

You can come up with an operational definition by describing the problem behavior in specific, measurable terms that permit direct objective assessment of the behavior of concern. Your definition should be Objective, Clear and Complete. If two or more people can read and record the behavior, it is usually clear.

Step 3: Attempt and Intervention

Once you have identified the problem behavior, try selecting an intervention strategy. Interventions can take place at the Universal, Targeted, or Individualized level. Use your own personal digression to chose an intervention that you personally believe will be most effective – considering the problem behavior. Here are some descriptive elements of Universal, Targeted, and Individualized interventions:


·      Are preventative and proactive

·      Do not require individualized assessment because they are delivered at group level

·      Are 80-90% successful within the general education population

·      Examples:

o   District reading curricula

o   School discipline plans

o   Bully prevention programs

o   Social skills curricula delivered in a general education classroom

What happens if there is not the desired response to universal interventions?


·      Are required for 5-10% of the population within a school

·      Focus on specific individuals

·      Utilize point systems; delivery of reinforcement

·      Examples:

o   Providing shorter tasks, increased time, additional choices, etc.

o   Small group tutoring

o   Behavior contracts

o   Self management strategies

What happens if there is not the desired response to the targeted interventions?


•       Are reserved for students requiring the most intense level of need

•       Are required for 1-5% of population within a school

•       Might require the use of family/caregiver or community resources

•       Might involve comprehensive, systematic, intense and consist interventions over a long period of time.

•       Are recommended for individual students for about 30 minutes per day (depending on the problem behavior and it’s frequency)

•       Typically include a comprehensive FBA or Functional Behavior Assessment to pinpoint functions needed. Functional behavioral assessments determine functions of behavior and utilize the school psychologist or another behavioral specialist to develop a behavior plan to be included with the student’s IEP or Individual Education Plan. The behavior plan will typically highlight positive and negative reinforcement functions.

•       Positive reinforcement functions (social attention, access to tangibles, preferred activities, sensory reinforcement)

•       Negative reinforcement functions (escape, avoidance, delay or reduction of aversive stimuli)

Step 4: Assess the reason WHY

After referral problem is clear and interventions are in place, the next step is determining why problem is occurring; based on the FBA (Positive Reinforcement Functions; Negative Reinforcement Functions). By carefully observing your intervention and behavioral reinforcements, your can easily tell why a student is behaving in a certain way.

Example Problem Behavior:  Student stands up from seat and walks around the room at the start of every Language Arts lesson. Student ignores teacher requests to be seated by not responding to the teacher, but continuing to walk around the room. Does this student:

•       Typically want to do their work?

•       Spend enough time doing their work?

•       Have enough assistance to do their work?

•       Is activity teaching student what teacher wants student to learn?

•       Is work too difficult for student?

Once each of these steps are taken, you will find that in time and with diligence, the problem behavior will modify itself eventually. If no progress is made with the selection of an intervention, try choosing a different intervention and observe any positive or negative reactions. Identifying behavioral problems using this thorough process will likely lead to positive changes in child behavior. 


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