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Addressing Challenging Behavior - Part 9

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Welcome back, everyone. We are covering one of my favorite areas today. As you now know, I'm Chris Filler, and I'm here to guide you through the step where you identify replacement and related skills. Since you are here, we know you have completed Webcasts One to Eight, and that you know how to hit the pause button if you need to slow it down.

If you choose to work through the process with your own individual, since the last webinar, you completed Section Four, missing skills. In Section Four, you include many missing skills that the student needs to learn that will help with the challenging behavior. We are now going to move on to Section Five, where you will identify replacement and related skills. For many people, this is a new concept. So feel free to take your time and process the information today.

Let's start by talking about what we mean by replacement and related skills. A replacement or substitute skill is what we teach to help the person replace the challenging behavior, and it has to serve the same function as the challenging behavior. This means that if you determine that the challenging behavior was helping the person communicate, the substitute behavior or skill must also serve as a form of communication. Also your substitute skill must be equally as effective as the challenging behavior. For example, that means that when I screamed to get your attention and it worked, the substitute skill of raising my hand must work equally as well to get your attention, or I may just go back to screaming. What I am saying is that when the person uses the skill or behavior we desire, others must honor and recognize this new behavior.

But this may feel like it's not a complete plan, right? I can't just always jump when that child raises his hand, right? There should be more. And yes, that is where the related skills come in.

A related skill is one that will assist the person in the targeted situation but does not get the exact results for the individual. It is not an equal exchange. Like teaching the child to wait instead of always expecting me to come to him immediately with his hand up, that would be a replacement. I will be sharing more examples of each of these concepts in the next few minutes. But I hope that at this point, you were beginning to realize that people need to be taught both substitute and related skills.

To help you realize the importance of this concept, let's look at this in a different way. You have a smartphone, let's say a Droid, and you lose it. You go to the store, and the salesperson says you can have a replacement phone, but it's an iPhone, not a Droid. You will have all the same functions, phone use, apps, internet access, texting, camera, all of it. So you're not feeling too bad about this being the replacement. Might be feeling pretty good actually.

But what if the salesperson offers you one of these phones? You are not going to be too cooperative about this choice. All these phones do is make calls and maybe text, if you're lucky. You would likely not even consider it, not really. It just doesn't work for you, probably wouldn't work for anybody. So this example is like the replacement behavior. If the replacement behavior doesn't work for the person, doesn't serve the same function as the challenging behavior, we will likely not easily get buying into the process. And we have not taught the person a different way.

Let's look at another example. Say you own the super sporty luxury car on the left, and someone ask you to trade it for this car on the right. And we're going to say it will run, okay? The function of the car is to get you from one place to another, so this is a fair trade, right? No, of course not. These really aren't equal. One has navigation, heated seats, super smooth ride, cruise control, and many other functions. While others hopefully get you to where you want to go, and hopefully the heater still works.

Now, what if you were offered some incentive with the car on the right? How about if you got a large wad of cash, and maybe this fancy motorcycle to help you with status as you cruise around? Now might you accept this car? When we are asking individuals to accept a related skill, we may need to offer extra reinforcement just like with that car.

For instance, if you want someone to sit and be quiet, maybe if you give a timer and fidget he loves, he may sit quietly for a little bit without jumping up. But he still needs to learn the replacement behavior of asking for your attention in a better way. And if you reinforce the use of the fidget and a quiet body with something he really likes, that will also help convince him to use the new coping behaviors, while he learns how to ask for your attention in a better way.

So as a review, a replacement behavior has equal outcomes to the original challenging behavior, while a related behavior teaches connected skills. I think examples really help understand this concept. So look at one more example.

Let's say a hitting behavior equals escape from academic demands. Then a replacement or substitute behavior could be teaching to ask for break, or asked to be done, or to leave. I know, you're thinking it just doesn't feel right. I can't just allow someone to get out of work. You're right. We can't just allow people to get out of working. But at this point, with a person with a challenging behavior, isn't asking for a break, or to be done, or to leave better than hitting to communicate the same thing?

And teaching someone to escape a situation in an acceptable manner is an important life skill. You do it all the time. You visit the restroom, you make that really important call, or you even daydream. But what you do doesn't hurt anyone. It's acceptable.

Okay, so this plan also includes related skills. You see that we are also teaching how to ask for help, how to request different work, and how to actually understand the academic skills. Maybe that is part of the problem. So first we teach a different way to escape. But we also teach what can help the person not need or want to escape the academic demands.

So is this starting to make a little sense? Give it a little time as we look over more information. How do you identify the replacement behavior? Go back to that Why Worksheet that you filled out and look at the function of the challenging behavior. Then think about how the individual can get the same outcome from a replacement behavior.

Here are some possible functions and questions to help identify what might be a replacement behavior. For instance, if the function of the challenging behavior is to communicate or express, then think about what is being communicated by the challenging behavior and what might be another way that the person can communicate that same message, while easily getting the same result that the challenging behavior gives him. Keep in mind that this is only the first step in the plan.

Now here are some possible functions and ideas to identify the related behaviors you will teach after the replacement behavior is in place. One area is avoidance. Possible related behaviors are coping skills to deal with the situation, or how to communicate about the challenging behavior, or possibly improvement of needed skills so avoidance really isn't necessary.

Now that you have these ways to identify replacement and related skills in your mind, let's think about another real life example. You have a sweet tooth that really kicks up when you're in stressful situations, many of us do. So eating sweets decreases your stress level and actually increases and releases those wonderful brain chemicals that make you feel better. That's the function of the behavior of eating chocolate, feeling better.

So how do we replace that function? Exercise, a quick walk, or bike ride can lower stress levels and release the same brain chemicals to give you that really good feeling, And meanwhile, for related behaviors, you can develop some skills like eating sweet fruits, doing a deep breathing, talking to a friend about what is stressful, and doing some problem solving by developing a plan to change what is stressing you out. These related skills don't meet the exact function of the behavior but will help with changing it. Are these examples helping you see how the replacement behavior has to match the function of the re-- of the re-- targeted behavior?

For the next step in the process, you will fill in the left side of the Section Five with the replacement behaviors, and the right side with the related behaviors. Here's Molly's form. Molly's replacement behaviors include being able to ask for a break, and to leave circle time, and being able to ask someone to leave her alone or not touch her. These match the function of Molly screaming, which is interrupting instruction. The screaming allowed her to escape and avoid the unwanted touching and the academic task as well.

Remember, that's just part of her plan. Molly's related behaviors are to improve her academic skills so she is less likely to want to leave the group at circle time. So first we give her more appropriate way to escape, and then we build up the skills she needs.

As we discussed in the previous webcast, if you have chosen to practice this process with the forms included in the downloadable file, you will identify both the replacement and the related skills to teach. So thanks for attending today. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Explore replacement and related skills to help the student change their behavior from the challenging behavior to another alternative. Use of the new behavior must be honored by others, and it must serve the same function – get the same results as the previous behavior.

View all the Documents in this series here