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The present paper is devoted to the analysis of two scenarios and the determination of the setting events and antecedents as well as the desired behaviors for the children described in them. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Education and Human Development defines antecedents as “the events that precede the occurrence of the target behavior(s)” and setting events as the “previous and current environmental issue and events that influence the occurrence of the target behavior” (Farenga & Ness, 2015, p. 811). In other words, antecedents represent more immediate triggers of behavior while the setting events may be removed from the situation (although it is not a requirement) and influence a child slower. The triggering of the behavior is often the result of the combination of antecedents and setting events.
The first case describes the behavior of Michael, who was six years old and diagnosed with an unstable seizure disorder as well as ADHD. As a result, the health issues and medications side effects or problems were not unlikely to be among the setting events. Michael exhibited several problematic behaviors, and the request to work on a writing assignment was invariably an antecedent of actions like screaming, hitting, kicking, biting, and other similar ones.
It is also noteworthy that the boy had difficulties in language processing, which is why an antecedent could also be the instruction to perform a difficult task. Apart from that, Michael did not react favorably to his transportation to the time-out area, and the factor was always an antecedent of physical struggle. The struggle was the major challenging behavior for the teachers, and the desired behavior for Michael included calmer conduct in response to the antecedents and compliance.
Desired behaviors: compliance, the lack of negative responses to instructions, and transportations to the time-out area.
Setting events: possible medication problems, health issues; possibly, the transmission to the first grade.
Antecedent: instructions to perform a difficult task; transportation to the time-out area.
The second scenario describes two nine-year-old boys. Bill had “behavioral problems and learning difficulties,” which is why he was mostly studying in a special education room but could occasionally be transferred to a general classroom. The diagnosis-related issues can be regarded as setting events, and the same can be said about the changes in the educational settings, some of which might have had labels supported by children.
Bill exhibited some difficulties in particular mathematical tasks, and the instruction to perform one could be the antecedent to the problem behavior. The latter involved the boy being often distracted; also, he demonstrated aggression and could engage in activities that disrupted lessons. The desired behavior for the child would consist of improved attention and task compliance together with decreased aggression and disruptive behavior.
The major problem behavior of Matt, the second boy, consisted of similar distractedness without the violent symptoms, and the desired behavior for him would involve greater attention to the tasks and improved ability to focus. His diagnoses included ADHD and emotional and behavioral disorders; he was taking 15 mg. of methylphenidate every day, the difficulties with which might have served as setting events for the behavior. For example, the side effects of the medication include anxiety (The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 2016). Matt was studying in special education classrooms and exhibited difficulties in performing certain mathematics tasks. As a result, the instruction to do such a task could be the antecedent to the problem behaviors.
Desired behaviors: compliance, the performance of the necessary tasks, improved attention; Bill: decreased aggression, and disruptive behaviors.
Setting event: health issues, educational difficulties, medication issues (for Matt; possibly, for Bill as well), different educational settings, and possible related social conflicts (for Bill).
Antecedent: the instruction to perform a difficult task.
The presented cases were an opportunity for training in discerning the setting events and antecedents, and the presented analyses were generally educational.
Farenga, S. & Ness, D. (2015). Encyclopedia of education and human development. New York, NY: Routledge.
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The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. (2016). Methylphenidate.