A behavioral intervention plan for a seven-year-old autistic boy is outlined following a functional assessment of behavior. Three target behaviors are identified and recommendations for intervention are made using simple behavioral techniques, visual stimuli, and modeling. The intervention is simple and the functional assessment should continue as an ongoing part of the intervention.
Discussion of the Case
The subject is a seven-year-old (male/female) with a diagnosis of autism currently enrolled in the second grade. Due to behavioral issues a functional assessment of the subject's behavior was completed followed by a behavioral intervention plan. Three target behaviors were identified for intervention following the functional assessment. These target behaviors will be discussed separately. The functional assessment was brief and covered one day of observation and recording. Ideally a longer period of observation would produce a more reliable functional assessment (Vismara & Rogers, 2010); however, it was believed that a plan of action should be implemented immediately and the functional assessment would be ongoing. The three target behaviors are described below:
1. Hitting others. The first target behavior is the subject's hitting others. Over the observational period the subject was observed to strike others four times. Three of the four observations occurred in the afternoon (75%), and the other observation occurred first thing in the morning. We would expect that this behavior would occur when the subject was engaged with others; however one observation states that the subject was alone. This is obviously a miscode. The settings in which this occurred varied (highlighting the need for continued observations of this behavior) and the consequences of this behavior were that the subject received attention. Thus, we suspect that the subject is prone to aggressive behaviors when tired, over-stimulated, and perhaps feels neglected (again we are working with a small n). A retroactive plan of remediation would include some consequence that takes the attentional reward away (Vismara & Rogers, 2010). Time outs in this situation can be useful, but need to be strictly applied (Houston-Wilson, & Lieberman, 2003). Nonetheless, reinforcing positive behaviors should be the primary mode of intervention. For proactive behaviors, working with the subject to get the subject to verbally express feelings to teachers using short phrases or with a picture book (faces depicting emotions) and setting up a reinforcement system for verbally discussing feelings, expressing them through visual mediums, and not striking others would be useful (Hattier, Matson, Sipes, & Turygin, 2011). The use of gestures and modeling on the part of the teacher may also be useful. The best reinforcement system might be letting the subject play with favorite toys for a few minutes.
2. Yelling. The subject was observed yelling on two occasions, both in the morning and both when alone, again suggesting that this behavior may reflect frustration and occur when the subject is either tired of anxious. He received attention following one instance and was ignored following the other. One instance occurred in class and one on the playground. Again, we are working with only one day of observations and a low n regarding behaviors. However, we can hypothesize that like the hitting there may me a functional consequence to this behavior of getting attention and as an outlet for being lonely or frustrated. Intervention here should be proactive, discussing how to verbally discuss feelings with teachers and how to productively reduce stress, again using as many visual aids and simple phrases as possible. Modeling proactive behaviors can be of use. For this behavior the use of proactive strategies and reinforcement should be the primary methods of intervention as well as ignoring minor instances (which is a reactive measure) and using more severe reactive measures like time outs should only occur if the yelling is extremely disruptive (Houston-Wilson, & Lieberman, 2003).
3. Going off task. This occurred three times, once in the morning twice in the early afternoon. All three occasions occurred in a classroom setting following a request, nothing was done for two occasions and a break was given on the third. Of the three target behaviors, this one is probably the easiest to work with. First, we can surmise this reflects confusion and poor attention. Breaking everything down into short steps, giving breaks, and reinforcement for staying on task will help lesson this behavior. Modeling…