Behavior intervention plan (BIP) is the process of analyzing existing data from a functional behavior assessment to come up with appropriate interventions and strategies to help a student learn replacement behaviors. A functional behavior assessment should be carried out prior to developing a BIP. Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a comprehensive analysis of problem behavior to determine its purpose.
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FBA assumes that behavior is cultured and serves a certain function. Another crucial assumption of FBA is that behavior has a direct association with the circumstances in which it occurs. A comprehensive functional behavior assessment helps in the development of an appropriate behavioral intervention plan. Some of the crucial information to consider in a functional behavioral assessment is the frequency and duration of the target behavior as well as the most and least likely places for the behavior to occur. The individuals present or absent when the behavior occurs and the student’s rejoinder to the repercussions that follow their behavior must also be considered (Filter & Alvarez, 2012).
Psychologists have found out that BIP is more effective in helping students change or improve their behavior rather than using reprimands and isolation methods when a student demonstrates the unacceptable behavior (Steege & Watson, 2009). BIP involves an individual education program (IEP) teams, which look into the needs of the student and device appropriate interventions to help the student.
Functional Behavior Analysis
Definition and Description of Target Behavior
A target behavior is an unacceptable behavior that needs to be changed or improved. In this case, the target behaviors are the disruptive mannerisms exhibited by client 1, which are common in the classroom and other settings such as the recess and specials. According to the reports provided by the school staff, the student is aggressive and does not comply with the school regulations.
Collection of Information on the Possible Causes of the Target Behavior
Understanding problem behavior requires adequate information about the function of the behavior. This information can be collected through methods such as natural observation of the student, conducting interviews, and analyzing the behavior under controlled conditions (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). It is important to know if there are other settings where the student does not exhibit disruptive behavior. The functional behavioral assessment for this child should also seek to understand the frequency and intensity of the behavior.
Categorizing Behavior (Forming a Hypothesis)
Categorizing behavior requires an understanding of the specific causes, which could fall into three categories, namely, skill deficit, performance deficit, and function. One probable hypothesis for this case is that client 1 desires to get attention from teachers and other students and thus behaves in a way that ensures he gets their attention. It is also likely that a particular subject is challenging to client 1, or interaction with other people is difficult for him.
Thus, he uses disruptive behavior as a communication strategy to air his frustrations. It is also likely that client 1 desires to have control of his surroundings. Therefore, the disruptive behavior, which is characterized by defiance and aggression, is meant to compel the teachers, other students, and school staff members to allow him to exercise control. The child’s home environment also plays a substantial role in promoting his behavior. There is a likelihood that his parents’ actions are motivating factors for the expressed behavior. It is also likely that he exhibits similar behavior at home, but his parents either tolerate it, or their response acts as a positive reinforcement of the behavior.
Planning Interventions (BIP)
BIP entails strategies and interventions put in place to help the client to change his behavior. According to Marnat (2009), these strategies are formed after analyzing the information collected in the FBA. The strategies fall into three categories, namely proactive, educative, and effective.
The child’s environmental conditions can be altered to reduce the likelihood of the problem. The expected student behavior in class and other settings (such as the recess) should be emphasized. Any behavioral triggers should be eliminated from the student’s surroundings. Educative strategies include teaching the student-specific acceptable behaviors such as how to seek attention from other people in an appropriate way. There is a possibility that the child’s disruptive behavior is due to the lack of proper communication skills hence limiting the child’s capacity to air his grievances.
The child’s parents must be made aware of their child’s behavior and asked to provide information about the frequency and triggers of the disruptive behavior. Their response towards the child when he shows the disruptive behavior should also be provided to help determine whether the responses act as positive or negative reinforcement. Consequently, the parents need to be advised accordingly to eliminate any negative reinforcement. Certain emotional problems also lead to disruptive behavior in children, such as exposure to traumatic events, violence or abuse. The child’s parents need to be interviewed regarding any traumatizing occurrences in the child’s life that could be contributing to their child’s behavior.
A plan is devised to monitor the progress of the interventions put in place, which should be in line with the set goals. If positive changes are not noticeable, then the interventions and strategies in place should be revised, and better strategies be formed to help the client. The IEP team, which includes the teachers, administrators and other students are involved in monitoring the progress of the client.
Importance of Antecedent Stimuli and Conditions
Antecedent stimuli are functions of behavior because they control whether or not a given behavior occurs. In operant conditioning, antecedent stimuli happen before the manifestation of a behavior and can act as a reinforcement of behavior. The events that unfold before a student behaves in a certain way are crucial in determining the student’s underlying needs (Marnat, 2009). A behavior analyst assesses the real cause of the target behavior, which may be a need for attention or avoidance of a challenging task. Reports about antecedent stimuli may incorporate the location and scheduling.
A discriminative stimulus is a situation where behavior is influenced by the presence or the absence of past stimuli that elicited a positive consequence. Motivation operation, conversely, is a situation where behavior is demonstrated due to a reinforcing consequence. Behavior is based on an assumption that there is always a state of deprivation or satisfaction in an individual. Motivation operation has two main consequences, which are the behavior modifying and value changing outcomes. In this case, the student’s past disruptive behaviors can be reinforced if the consequence meets his needs.
Importance of Consequence Stimuli and Conditions
The consequences of behavior determine whether that behavior is repeated or not. The likelihood of an individual repeating the behavior that yields positive outcomes is high. However, if the outcomes are negative, the behavior is avoided. Behaviorists refer to this phenomenon as reinforcement.
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Positive reinforcement occurs when a person gains from their behavior. The client is positively reinforced if their disruptive behavior fulfills their needs. Negative reinforcement occurs when a person loses something as a result of a given behavior, which reduces the probability of repeating that particular conduct in the future. According to Cooper, Heron and Heward (2007), automatic reinforcement occurs when the target behavior is not influenced by another person, but the positive consequence motivates a person to repeat an action. Automatic reinforcement is independent of social reinforcement.
Components of the SMIRC Model in this Referral
The SMIRC model provides a guide for the functional behavior analysis. The components of the model include stimulus, motivating operations, individual variables, response, and consequence. The collection of data entails addressing these components to formulate effective interventions.
A stimulus is an event that occurs just before the demonstrated target behavior. The stimulus is determined, and the function of this behavior is analyzed. This component addresses the classroom environment and how it contributes to the student’s disruption.
Motivating operations for the student can be addressed by involving teachers and students who could be the causal factors or motivation for the observed behavior.
Individual variables of the student are crucial and can be addressed with the help of his parents. Cultural considerations and family background also form part of the individual variables that should be analyzed.
The responses that emanate from the people in the student’s environment are important and should include how the student is treated after the expression of the target behavior. Consequences of the problem behavior can be addressed. For example, the student’s disruptive behavior can be ignored to diminish its value. In the intervention phase, the student can be rewarded if a positive, acceptable behavior is learned successfully.
Any form of client abuse can be termed as unethical. Sexual, emotional or intellectual harassment of the client due to their incapacitation should be avoided by the therapist. A student with maladaptive behavior is still entitled to good therapy characterized by respect and professional care (Marnat, 2009).
Every assessment is carried out by a competent psychologist who should have the right knowledge and skills that warrant him to perform the functional behavioral assessment. It is unethical for a therapist to carry out a task that he does not have adequate training (Groth-Marnat, 2009). In such an instance, a referral to a more competent therapist is necessary to help in the discharge of the plans and the actual assessment of the patient.
The therapist should also ensure that the behavioral intervention program contains pertinent information such as the overall objectives to be attained, interventions aimed at modifying the student’s behavior, the individuals charged with the task of executing the suggested interventions, evaluation techniques as well as the timelines to be followed. The inclusion of a realistic timeline, as well as the review dates for certain sections of the BIP, is necessary to ensure that the desired consequences are achieved within the set period, which is a measure of the efficacy of the behavioral intervention plan.
The society has unwritten set standards that qualify the behaviors of its people as acceptable or unacceptable. Behaviorists often encounter people with socially unacceptable behavior that need to be addressed. There are various ways of helping people change their behavior or learn new acceptable behaviors in the society. However, not all these strategies can be effective. The functional behavioral assessment gives the most effective strategy to address behavior change since it focuses on the function of behavior.
Cooper, J., Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Filter, K. J. & Alvarez, M. (2012). Functional behavioral assessment: A three-tiered prevention model. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Groth-Marnat, G. (2009). Handbook of psychological assessment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Steege, M., & Watson, T.S. (2009). Conducting school-based functional behavioral assessments (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.