VCU-ACE - Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with ASD Online Course
Slide: Welcome to the course on providing positive behavior supports!
- There is a student with autism spectrum disorder using behavior to communicate something
- “I’m in pain.”
- “This bothers me.”
- “This is too hard and I don’t understand.”
- Behaviors are present in the student with ASD due to the core deficits.
Every single day in a classroom across Virginia, there is a teacher struggling to understand a student’s behavior. Every single day in a classroom across Virginia, there is a student with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, using behavior to communicate something. Maybe the student is using behavior to say, “I’m in pain.” It’s possible the student is using behavior to say, “This bothers me.” This student may also be using behavior to say, “This is too hard and I don’t understand.” Students with ASD may present with challenges due to the core deficits of ASD and they may present with more problematic, or interfering, behaviors which may require intervention. In both instances, behaviors for the student with ASD have meaning and it is often a tremendous challenge to decipher the correct meaning of those behaviors. We are here to help you through such challenges.
Slide: Why do I need this course?
- This course will help you create a positive and proactive environment.
- This course will make your life easier!
- This course will benefit your entire class!
- This course will help you understand behavior!
- There are many key elements we use to build a foundation for learning.
This course is designed to provide you with the information needed to create a positive and proactive environment for the student with autism spectrum disorder and to guide you through the process of understanding, intervening and replacing interfering behaviors in the classroom.
You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need this course?” The answer is simple. This course will help make YOUR life, as an educator, easier. This course will also provide you with information that will benefit your students with ASD, as well as, your entire class. Interfering behavior can easily disrupt the classroom environment, and without appropriate intervention, can easily overwhelm staff and students. Interfering behavior affects everyone. The difficulty is that very few people really understand what the behavior means, why it is happening and what to do about it.
To help you understand behavior and to be able to support your students effectively, while simultaneously maintaining your sanity, we are going to cover many different topics related to behavior and behavior support throughout this class. There are many key elements we use to build a foundation for learning. In the upcoming slides, we will set the stage for the class and provide an overview of these key elements.
Slide: Behavior IS communication!
- Behavior serves a very real purpose, or function, for the student.
- You will learn how to understand the behavior and the function of the behavior through the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) process.
Interfering behavior accounts for many hours of stress and worry among educational staff and it’s important to remember the cardinal rule for behavior: behavior is communication. Behavior serves a very real purpose, or function, for the student. The student is not demonstrating problem behavior because he is defiant or “trying to get on your nerves.” Instead, the student is communicating something to you. It might be that he is trying to say he wants your attention, or perhaps he is trying to say the writing assignment is too hard. The difficulty with behavior is understanding what the student is communicating. Understanding what that function is, is like solving a riddle and it often takes detective work. This course will help you understand the detective work required and how to use your observations to create data and ultimately, create change with that data.
In this course, you will learn how to understand the behavior and the function of the behavior through the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) process. The FBA is a step by step process that helps you with that detective work by breaking down behavior. It is not a procedure that simply gives you more work to do! With observation and data, a bigger picture emerges and we start to unravel the mysteries of challenging behavior. Through the use of case studies and examples, we’ll show you the behavioral support process and help you understand the critical thinking involved in such processes.
Slide: Every student is unique!
- Every student is unique, thus every behavior is unique and requires the educational team to evaluate and analyze each situation individually.
- Behaviors are best addressed using a team approach.
Solving interfering behavior can take time and effort and the answers are not always easy. Every student is unique, thus every behavior is unique and requires the educational team to evaluate and analyze each situation individually. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to behavior support, therefore, every student must be supported individually.
Additionally, given the complexity of ASD, behaviors are best addressed using a team approach. One person likely does not have all the answers, and by putting many heads together to problem solve and develop strategies, the student is going to be better supported. Just as there are many administrators, teachers and staff involved in a typical school day, these same individuals are to be active in the behavioral support process. Without a team, solving and preventing interfering behavior is difficult, as the entire process is a collaborative effort. When everyone is on the same page regarding interfering behavior, solving the mysteries of behavioral issues becomes that much easier.
Slide: Treat students with dignity!
- Dignity and respect should always be foremost in our thoughts and practices as we must strive to remember that at the end of the day, we observe a person, we collect data on a person and we seek to help a person.
- We only use strategies and supports we would want implemented on ourselves.
Dignity and respect should always be foremost in our thoughts and practices as we must strive to remember that at the end of the day, we observe a person, we collect data on a person and we seek to help a person. Compassion drives a positive behavior support program. The ultimate goal is to improve a student’s quality of life and our programming should always reflect such sensitivity and respect. It is vital to think of the person, not the disability, and to provide person centered planning.
When we put the student before the disability, we are able to provide behavior supports that consider the student’s needs, the student’s desires and the student’s interests. We only implement strategies and supports that maintain the person’s dignity. In other words, we only use strategies and supports we would want implemented on ourselves. Person centered planning is important because maintaining this focus allows us to create individualized, respectful and dignified behavioral programs.
Slide: There are legal implications!
- According to law, a Behavior Intervention Plan is required for any student who demonstrates persistent behavioral concerns.
- The course adheres to the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals Serving Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan.
Why else might this course be important? Besides being the crucial piece to having more good days than bad days, the skills and strategies in this course will help you stay compliant with the law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensures students with disabilities are provided a free and appropriate public education and the Virginia Department of Education adheres to both federal and state legislation regarding special education. According to law, a Behavior Intervention Plan, or what is referred to as a BIP, is required for any student who demonstrates persistent behavioral concerns. The law specifies the need for a plan when there is extreme behavior which results in suspension or removal to an alternate educational setting. However, a BIP is also required for students with less severe forms of behavior but that behavior interferes with the student’s learning or the learning of those around him. This means that a lot of students with ASD are going to require a BIP!
This course was created by a team from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence using current research and adheres to the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals Serving Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan developed by the Virginia Autism Council. The field of education is constantly evolving as new research becomes available. As such changes occur; our growing base of evidence based practices grows, as does our standards, competencies and strategies. In today’s educational environment, there are numerous legal and ethical ramifications of behavior support programs that are either non-existent or do not offer the support a student needs. We often see shocking examples of ineffective programming on the evening news. Courses such as this will provide you with the tools you need to stay up to date on current research and provide legally compliant plans that treat students with the dignity and respect they deserve, all while using the standards of evidence based practices.
Slide: Use a proactive approach to behavior.
- Positive Behavior Supports focus on preventing problem behaviors from occurring to the maximum extent possible and also replacing the interfering behavior with positive ones.
- PBS focuses on:
- Quality of life.
- Improved social interactions.
Remember, learning to understand and support interfering behavior is not about adding more paperwork to an already full day. Supporting behavior is about being proactive and using research based strategies. This involves using Positive Behavior Supports, or PBS. Positive Behavior Supports focus on preventing problem behaviors from occurring to the maximum extent possible and also replacing the interfering behavior with positive ones. Positive Behavior Support strategies focus on a holistic approach that focuses on the student’s quality of life while working to improve social interactions and reduce negative behaviors across all settings.
Slide: Behavior support has many levels!
- Using Positive Behavior Supports is most effective when done using a tiered approach.
- The first tier we will refer to as providing universal supports.
- The second tier we refer to as providing practical supports.
- There will be other students in your classroom who will require intensive supports.
Using Positive Behavior Supports is most effective when done using a tiered approach by providing supports at the class level and also at the individual student level.
The first tier we will refer to as providing universal supports. As mentioned, students with ASD will likely exhibit interfering behavior. There are many ways to help lessen these behaviors before a student even walks into your classroom. Often, our approach to behavior is reactive. When something negative happens, we respond and attempt to do something about it. However, when we work together to structure the environment, provide the appropriate visual supports and ensure instruction is appropriate for the student, the approach becomes proactive rather than reactive. Creating a positive classroom through the use of universal supports, allows staff to start off on the right foot instead of putting out fires every hour until the school bell rings at the end of the day. We want you to stop being a firefighter and to start being a detective. Staying one step ahead, rather than one step behind, makes everyone’s day that much better. Such Positive Behavior Supports can have an enormous beneficial impact on the school day for both teachers and students. Remember that everything in this course is here to help you AND your students have a safe, positive and productive day.
The second tier we refer to as providing practical supports. Despite having the most organized environments and proactive approaches, interfering behavior can still occur. Behavior support has many levels and even when you provide a positive foundation of universal supports, some students will need additional intervention. Some students will exhibit behavioral challenges that can be addressed quickly and informally by an educator in the classroom. This will require the educator to conduct that detective work we talked about earlier and determine the function of the behavior and apply what we will refer to as practical supports. While this still involves the functional behavior process, you will see that it is a sensible, fluid process that the educator learns to do in his or her classroom each and every day!
The third tier is for the remaining students. There will be other students in your classroom who will require intensive supports. In this situation, the student demonstrates behaviors that are intense or perhaps dangerous, requiring a more formal team effort. This requires the collaboration of the entire educational team to conduct the FBA and create a Behavior Intervention Plan.
Slide: Course objectives
- Recognize the difference between behavior and interfering behavior.
- Understand how behavior develops.
- Know how to create a positive approach.
- Know how and when to informally address behavior using practical supports.
- Know how and when to formally address interfering behavior using an intensive approach.
In the next few hours and weeks, I hope you find this course to be a wealth of information for your students with autism spectrum disorder and that it gives you the confidence and ability to manage even the most challenging behaviors. In this course, you will be provided with the tools to recognize the difference between behavior and interfering behavior, understand how behavior develops, know how to create a positive approach that benefits all students, recognize how and when to informally address behaviors using practical supports, and finally, understand how and when to address interfering behavior with an intensive, formal team effort.
The information presented in this course will provide you with the information you need to address behaviors universally, across the class, but also individually for all of your students. We want you to leave this course with the confidence of knowing that you can both address common problems and change even the most challenging situations with careful observation, assessment, and data collection using a team approach. In short, we want you to leave the school day every afternoon with a sense of success and to look forward to every morning.
Slide: Course format
- Video presentations
- Case studies
- Key points
- Learning activities
- Group discussion
- Reading material
- Participant guidebook
The format for this course will include narrated video presentations (complete with written transcripts), valuable case studies, key points, learning activities, group discussion, reading material and a participant guidebook. The presentations, case studies, videos, articles and activities presented in this course are here to not only provide you with a foundational framework to understanding behavior support techniques, but also to enhance your critical thinking skills and help make this knowledge both practical and accessible in your everyday life.