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Addressing Challenging Behavior - Part 2

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Welcome back. Wendy here for Part Two. As you recall, this is a series, which means that you've already watched the introduction webcast, possibly the point of view webcast, and then Part One on defining behavior. We will be building your knowledge step by step through each of the webcasts.

Today we'll be discussing data, antecedents, and consequences. If you chose to work through the process with your own individual, since the last webcast, you were working on defining a challenging behavior that was observable and measurable. Hopefully you got to review the factors to see if the definition of the behavior can be counted, timed, or measured by intensity. And maybe you got to run it by a couple of people to see that anyone could understand it.

Just a reminder. It's OK to pause the webcast and review the handout or to back it up and play a section over again. This process takes some time to learn, and we sometimes learn best by repetition. So take the time you need to take in the information. And we are ready to talk about data.

I'd like you to meet data. Data needs to drive decisions made about how things are progressing or not progressing with individuals who have disabilities. This includes how someone's doing academically, on IEP goals, with independent living goals, with job goals, or particularly with behavior change. Data keeps us honest about what's actually happening.

Collecting and using data for behavior is a good thing. Keeping data about a target behavior gives a baseline of how often and/or how much the behavior's occurring. Continuing the collection of data during implementation gives ongoing monitoring of changes in the behavior and shows if the intervention is working. Because we're all humans, who have good and bad days, keeping concrete data takes guesswork, impressions, and emotions out of the process. Also, in schools, data collection is required for the IEP and for legal purposes that's sometimes arise.

These are some methods of data collection. Some of you may be familiar with these, and for some it may be new information. Remember the pause button if you want to spend more time on each method. We're going to discuss each of them briefly. Keep in mind as you choose the method of data collection type, intensity, frequency, and duration of the behavior.

One method is frequency recording. For this method, you tally the number of times the target behavior occurs. As you continue tracking during interventions, the number of times a behavior occurs will decrease if the intervention is effective. If you're using it to track a new skill you're trying to teach, then the number of times will increase.

When we measure duration of a targeted behavior, this shows how long the behavior is lasting. As an intervention is implemented, we hope to see the duration of a negative behavior decrease or the duration of the positive behavior increase.

Latency tells us how long it takes a person to respond to a direction or to begin a task. We would expect latency to decrease as an intervention is implemented.

The rate of behavior tells how often a behavior occurs during a given period of time. With an invention that is working, the rate of a negative behavior would decrease and the rate of that new skill would increase.

With interval recording, we mark if a behavior occurs, or does not occur, during certain time periods of the day. This might help discover specific times of the day when the behavior is present or absent so you can examine what's happening at those times. Sometimes it's difficult to collect data all day, so this is a way to record snapshots of when it is occurring.

Sometimes you might not see decrease in the frequency of a behavior, but if the intensity is lessening, then the data shows improvement. Measuring intensity is a bit more complicated, and it can sometimes be hard to get an objective measurement. You're measuring the force, or severity, or strength of a response. To do this, an intensity scale is developed, and documentation is taken using the scale.

Let's consider the example of Josh, who is hitting staff hard enough to leave a mark and cause bruises. Josh's team is using the scale of very severe/intense, which means there's a bruise, pretty severe, which means there's a mark left on the skin but no bruising, somewhat severe, which means hard enough to make a sound but no mark or bruise, and not at all severe, which is just a tap with no sound, mark, or bruise. The time is recorded, and the level of intensity is circled.

This is one way to track intensity. Another way to keep data on intensity, as this example shows, is to develop written descriptions of each intensity level and then mark the time, rating, and initials of the person who was involved on the chart. This data chart is tracking the intensity of disruption verbally or by physical actions, aggression, and material and property destruction. You can see that the descriptions need to be very clear, and all staff would need to fully understand how to mark the data charts.

Using graphs to show data collection results makes the tally marks or numbers on daily charts into a visual picture of progress or sometimes lack of progress. This graphing example shows data about a student who grabs food from other students' trays at lunch time. The first section is the baseline. This base shows when the first intervention was implemented. As shown by the data illustration on Thursday of the intervention week, you can sometimes experience a spike in the target behavior when an intervention is implemented, and then the occurrence may decrease. Being able to see the progress or lack of progress on graphs can support making decisions about interventions. There are many graphing programs and apps that make this process doable.

When you're starting data collection for an identified behavior or new skill to teach, it's good practice to collect baseline data. That is, what is happening with no interventions at the present time. At least a few days up to a week is usually sufficient to document an average. There's an exception to collecting baseline. If an individual's behavior is causing injury to him or herself or others, teams must use the data they already have to examine the situation, select strategies, begin implementation of the plan, and, of course, continue to collect data. But don't wait to implement a support plan if there's a safety concern.

You don't have to collect data on everything. Determine the when, where, and why about the data to help decide about what to track. It's very important that everyone involved understands how to collect the data. And it should be easy to collect, so that anyone can do that.

We want to collect data across environments to help us determine if skills are being generalized from environment to environment through the use of the interventions that are being implemented. If data shows differently, then the team revisits environments, interventions, whether data's being collected consistently, changes in the individual, and other factors that might be affecting progress. If data is collected but not analyzed and used in decision making, it's useless. And data analysis truly is the only way to tell if an intervention being used is actually working.

Remember Molly for Webcast One? Well, we're going to think through data and Molly's targeted screaming behavior. What would we measure? Probably the number and maybe the duration of interruptions. How would we track the data? On a data sheet. Who will make the sheet, track the data, and graph it? In Molly's situation, the teacher, or a psych, or behavior specialist would create the sheet. Teacher and parapros can track the data. Teacher, psych, or behavior specialist would graph the data. When would the team meet to review the data and make decisions about interventions? They decided to meet weekly the first month, and then biweekly, and then monthly to monitor progress.

So how you feeling about data? Do you need to stop and review this information, or are you ready to go on? You can always come back to this section later. We're now going to talk about antecedents and consequences.

In a functional behavior assessment, we look at ABC, or antecedent, behavior, consequence. This is where we look at what is happening around a behavior. Antecedents are what happens before the behavior, maybe immediately or maybe a period of time before it. The antecedents have some influence on the behavior happening. Then we have the measurable, observable behavior. And after that, the consequences, which occur after the behavior.

Consequences have a relationship to the behavior and will either increase or decrease the behavior. Consequences are not just the things that are done or assigned to the student because of the behavior. These consequences are the events that happened immediately after the behavior occurs.

We can identify antecedents and consequences by thinking through the answers to who, what, when, where, and how. Here are some questions to consider as you are identifying antecedents and consequences for the targeted and well-defined behavior. This list is in the packet you downloaded in the guidance documents. You can see the wh-questions to consider.

As you can see from the guiding questions, at this point in the process, we want to just look at the facts. You might have some ideas as to why the targeted behavior is happening, but we're asking you to keep an open mind about the why for now. That means we're asking you to keep the information for antecedents and consequences objective, without any subjective thoughts. We want you to write down what is seen and heard before and after the targeted behavior, without any interpretation or any possible functions of the behavior yet. And we have to keep our emotions, or sometimes we call it "head agenda," out of the information. We're asking you to keep all possibilities open as to why the behavior is happening at this point in the process. We are going to work on function in a later webcast.

Remember Molly again from Webcast One? Her behavior was identified as, "Molly screams loudly enough to interrupt the teacher's instruction to class." Let's think about the antecedents and consequences for Molly's targeted behavior. Some antecedents her team identified about the behavior is that it's more likely to occur on a Monday, during circle time, when she's sitting near Shelley, a classmate, when she's not able to finish an activity before transitioning to circle time, and when she's being touched.

When examining possible consequences, Molly's team found that when the behavior begins, first an aide approaches Molly and hugs her, which stops the screaming but leads to hitting. And then next, Molly's classmates and other adults move away from her. And most times Molly is given a break.

Now we're going to consider some things that are not antecedents. How Molly feels, in that Molly wants to have her own way, is subjective and not a true antecedent. Identifying how Shelley feels or that Molly doesn't understand directions isn't an antecedent. But looking at what Shelley did or what the teacher is saying could be antecedents.

What things are not consequences? Again, how Molly feels or thinking Molly's manipulating the situation are not consequences. Saying nothing happened can't help the situation. So try again and look at more details going back to-- and using those wh-questions. Identifying that Molly keeps screaming and kicks describes the escalation of her behavior but not what is happening around the behavior.

Did these examples and non examples help you get a better idea of the antecedents and consequences? You'll be getting started on identifying the A's and C's before and after your identified behavior before the next webcast.

If you are trying out the process as you work through the webcasts, you have two assignments to complete. Fill in the answers to the data form shown here, and then start filling in the antecedents and consequences on the ABC form shown here. Don't forget to use the guiding questions. All forms are in your packet. Thanks for attending Webcast Two. We'll see you soon for Part Three.

Learn about antecedents and consequences in this video segment. Building on what you have learned in Part 1, Part 2 addresses data collection and the importance of data analysis. The focus is on using data to drive decisions when addressing challenging behavior.

View all the Documents in this series here