Meme Hieneman, Tracy Raulston, & Laura Strobel 2017-12-15 10:53:07
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION OF THE ARTICLE This is the final installment of a six-article series on positive behavior support PBS. The previous articles focused on identifying goals and behaviors of concern, gathering information to determine the patterns affecting behavior, designing proactive, teaching, and management strategies, teaching new skills, and implementing the plan. This article is about making sure the plan is working – or monitoring progress. TRACKING BEHAVIOR CHANGE Monitoring progress loops back to the beginning of the PBS process when you established broad goals, identified routines you wanted to improve, and defined specific behaviors to increase and decrease for your child. It is important to make sure that each of the desired changes is achieved. You do so by continuing to track behavior objectively. Examples of how progress might be monitored include: Recording the percent of steps successfully completed within a routine (e.g., grooming, competing household tasks, playing a game with a sibling) Keeping track of the number of behaviors observed (e.g., words said or signed, academic problems completed, foods consumed) Timing how long your child takes to complete or remains engaged in an activity (e.g., time it takes to get out the door in the morning, remaining in bed, working on homework) Tracking the frequency, duration, or intensity of problem behavior (e.g., number of times your child refuses to do what you ask, length of tantrums, level of injury caused by aggression) It is often helpful to keep a written record of these behaviors and even to summarize your progress on a graph. In the following video, the mother was prompting her son to ask for snacks using a picture card instead of banging on the gate. As you can see, at first he resisted the picture exchange, but, with more practice, he used it with reminders. Over time, he was mostly independent, only needing an occasional verbal reminder. This progress is depicted on a hand drawn graph his mother kept on the refrigerator. On a second graph, the mom tracked the number of times her child banged the baby gate. She made a tally count on a post-it note, and then graphed the number at the end of the day. CHECKING IMPLEMENTATION In reviewing your data, you may see improvements as shown on the graphs above. In that case, it is time to celebrate your progress. If, however, your child is not making the progress you had hoped, it may be a good time to try to understand why that might be. You may want to make sure that you are implementing the strategies in the plan you designed. You can do that by rating the components of the plan. You can estimate how often you are implementing the strategies using a scale such as never, rarely, sometimes, usually, and always. See the example below. Quickly checking in on each of these components can be a nice reminder of what strategies you had planned. If you are addressing all of these things, and your child still isn’t making improvements, you probably need to identify new goals, re-analyze patterns, and design different strategies. Remember that positive behavior support is a problem-solving process and sometimes it is necessary to adjust. IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE When evaluating the outcomes of your plan, you should consider the big picture as well. You want to make sure that it is leading to improvements in quality of life. You might ask yourself some of these questions: Is my child physically or emotionally healthier? Is my child better able to advocate for her own needs? Is my child engaging in more productive activities? Is my child developing stronger, more positive relationships? Is my child going more places and doing more things? These questions are also relevant for you as a parent and for other family members because a plan can only be sustainable if everyone is benefitting – if everyone’s lives are improving. In the following video, you will see how the children learned skills and improved their behavior, making their lives and those of their family members better. In this series of articles, we have described the process of positive behavior support as a series of steps, but you should instead view it as a continuing cycle. As your child develops, learns new skills, and has new experiences and challenges, the steps need to be repeated. New goals lead to new patterns, which lead to new strategies and new outcomes. At each stage, you get to support your child a bit differently and celebrate their progress. Positive behavior support offers a way to focus your efforts, understand what influences your child’s behavior, plan and implement strategies, and monitor changes, helping your child and your family thrive. Meme Hieneman, has a Ph.D. in Special Education and is nationally certified as a behavior analyst. She has published a variety of articles, chapters, and books including “Parenting with Positive Behavior Support: A Practical Guide to Resolving Your Child’s Difficult Behavior.” In her professional career, Meme has worked with children with severe behavior problems for more than 20 years.
Published by Parenting Special Needs Magazine. View All Articles.
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