Defining a Break in Functional Communication Training

In my last post, I talked about how to teach a communication response to replace escape-related challenging behavior and had a protocol for teaching a break response as one of the options.  I wanted to take some time today to talk about what a break might actually look like.  As I noted in that post, the type of break and what happens during a break can vary as much as all our different students.  A break can take place in the same place as the activity the student is asking to escape.  Typically this would make sense if the student is escaping from work.

Functional Communication Training: Teaching Asking for a Break

In talking about replacement behaviors, probably one of the replacement strategies that most challenge teachers is how to replace behaviors that serve to escape from situations.  It goes against our grain to teach a student to "get out of" the work we are trying to teach him.  It goes against everything we are told by our supervisors and parents.  I think this is becoming particularly true in our "high standards" age.  I realize when I tell teachers that we should let a student "choose" not to complete something that this seems to be counter to her purpose in her job.  I get it.  I really do.  I promise.  And yet....

Teaching Appropriate Attention-Seeking to Replace Challenging Behaviors (Freebie!)

When we talk about replacement behaviors and functional communication training (FCT), the three most common applications are teaching attention seeking, teaching escape behaviors, and teaching requesting items and actions (for the tangible function).  Today I want to talk about how to teach an individual to use an appropriate communicative way to gain attention from others.  You can teach students to gain attention in a variety of ways from telling jokes, initiating interactions in play, and initiating conversations among others.  These work well for students who have some communication skills but aren't using them effectively.  I want to focus today more on the student who does not have effective communicative ways to gain attention.  They might be nonverbal and have limited communication skills or they might be verbal but not use their language effectively or communicatively (like the kid who recites the newscast but can't ask for a banana).  These are the students who need the basics of communication specifically focused on gaining the attention that their challenging behavior currently serves.  Obviously this is something you would use for students whose FBAs indicated attention as a primary function of challenging behavior.  I am going to give you the highlights and then I have included a free download of a protocol with more details about how to set it up.

Functional Communication Training: Why It's More Than Just "Use Your Words"

Last time I talked about some beginning considerations in replacement skills.  Today I want to talk about one of the most common type of replacement skills: communication skills.  Functional Communication Training (FCT) is teaching specific communication skills that serve the same function as the challenging behavior.  It's probably one of the most common forms of replacement skills that we use.  We reference it all the time whenever we tell a student, "Use your words."  However, replacing challenging behavior with communication isn't as simple as that.  If it was as simple as that, we could just redirect and move on and the problem would no longer exist.  And repeating "Use your words" multiple times isn't going to do it either.  So what is FCT and how do we use it? Let's talk about that today.

Functional Elementary Classroom Elements

I am so excited about this blog post....partly because it's mostly pictures.  And let's face it, on a Thursday and Friday, who has time to read!  I was lucky enough to do some consulting this week and to visit a school where a teacher told me she had bought stuff from my TPT store.  So I went by her room to take a look and was excited to not only get to see some of my products in action, but to see this great classroom set up of functional centers she has set up in her room.  I asked her if I could take some pictures and share them with you because I really love her ideas!  So thank you Mrs. Gaines of East Ridge Elementary School for letting me share!!  So now, less words, more pictures!

What Are Replacement Behaviors and What Do We Need To Know to Be Effective?

Thanks to I Teach
What's Your Superpowers for Clipart
So, how are you surviving the beginning of the year? Class set up? Schedule set (does it ever really get finalized??).  At this point in the series, we are ready to move on to the second part of the behavior support plan--the teaching parts.  If you haven't seen the post on the format of a behavior support plan, check here.  There is a freebie, so go ahead and check it out and I'll wait.

OK, ready to continue?  This section of the support plan is divided up into 2 components: teaching replacement skills and teaching ancillary skills (or skills the student needs but that aren't necessarily related to the function of the behavior).  Before we get started on specific skills in each area, let me clear up a few frequently asked questions about them.

Workbasket Wednesday-September 2014 Edition: Quick and Easy Tasks

Welcome to Workbasket Wednesday!  This is a time for us to all indulge our love for work tasks that work in independent structured work systems and capitalize on the visual strengths of many of our students to address their need to learn to work independently, maintain learned skills and generalize their skills across different materials.  If you want to link up, see the end of the post for directions and the link up.  If you don't have a blog, you can link up as well by leaving photos in the comments or messaging them to me on Facebook and I'll share them.

Since we just started September, many of you have just started back to school while others have been back in the classroom long enough to get to know your students.  So, I thought today, I would focus on tasks that are fast and easy to set up so you can expand your work tasks quickly.

5 Ways to Prep Students to Prevent Challenging Behavior: Antecedent Strategies

To read more of the series on challenging behavior click HERE.

So, in this post I want to finish up talking about antecedent strategies by talking about ways to prepare a student prior to a situation that may be related to challenging behavior so that the student can get through the activity productively and without difficulty.  Sometimes preparing someone before they have to manage a difficult situation can help them manage their behavior.  Think of it as when you remind your significant other that we decided to try not to argue with the in-laws during the dinner tonight.  We all do it, it's just a matter of making the preparation clear and meaningful for our students--and planning the time to be able to do it.  Here are some ways that we can prepare students to help their behavior be more successful.

6 Ways to Change Task Presentation to Prevent Challenging Behavior: Antecedent Strategies

To check out the rest of this series on 5 Steps to Meaningful Behavioral Support, click HERE.

If this series proves nothing else, it is that addressing and preventing challenging behavior is a complex, complicated, long job...and it is. But there are some things you can do that will prevent challenging behaviors just in the way you present tasks to students.  These will work well if you have a student whose FBA showed that the behavior served to escape from demands from staff or parents.  Essentially these are strategies that will lessen the student's negative response to task demands by making them easier, more interesting, and/or more palatable in some way so they are more likely to comply.  And let's face it, increased compliance, and decreased challenging behavior is a win-win for you and the student.  So, let's look at some strategies.

3 Ways to Adjust the Physical Space to Prevent Challenging Behavior

If you are looking for the special education blog hop and the freebies and giveaway, click HERE.

Today I am continuing with the antecedent strategies for preventing challenging behavior in step 4 of 5 Steps to Meaningful Behavioral Support.  To see the rest of the series click HERE.

Sometimes, preventing challenging behavior can be as simple as changing around the furniture.  And sometimes it helps to have the furniture you need. Since many of us are setting up classrooms for the school year, today I want to talk about how the physical arrangement of the environment can affect challenging behaviors.


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