Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memorable Moment #4: "Bad" Behavior/Communication Tool

We all know that behavior communicates something. The trick is to figure out what the "something" is and then react in a way that does not reward the "bad" behavior but honors what the child needs/wants. Let me tell you...that's a great trick!!!

Behavior analysts will tell you that every behavior supports a person's needs/wants (not just a child, not just a student....adults, too.) Behaviors are exhibited to get us what we need/want. Most of the time we identify the four reasons (functions) for behavior as: to get attention, to escape a demand or task, to get something..tangible, to stimulate our senses...sensory.

My teaching partners and I found the following "bad" behavior to be quite humorous. Of course, we have to deal with the behavior and why the student was doing it, but.....the process of that can be quite funny. (Note: Make sure when "bad" behavior is funny, you don't let your student know that it's funny because they could get conflicting messages. Chances are it's only funny the first or second time....after that it's just "bad.")

See if you can figure out what the following student is telling us.... :-)

Libby is a three year old student with Down's Syndrome. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we set up a 6 center rotation where children travel from center to center according to a timer. We organize this within two classrooms that are connected by a middle door. This can be quite demanding for some students.

Libby reached her 4th or 5th center for the day which happened to be her Language Therapy lesson. In the middle of the lesson she decided she was done!

Libby hopped off of her chair and ran from the Language Therapy room to my classroom. (The speech/language pathologist (SLP) was right on her heels.) She tried to shut the door on the speech pathologist! keep in mind...a 3 yr old, shutting the door on the speech path!

Well, the SLP and I happen to be good friends, so when we saw a 3 year old attempting to shut the door in her face, we both wanted to laugh. :-) Fortunately for us, we had our wits about us. Libby was redirected back to her group with a firm voice and reminded that group was finished when the timer "beeped." (by the way....we laughed later!!!!)

What was Libby telling us through her behavior? What was the reason/function for her behavior?

If you guessed "escape," then your hypothesis matched ours. We suspect that she was telling us that she needed to get away from work at that point.

What did we do? We try to get Libby's group within the first few rotations before she gets fatigued. This way we can ensure that her time at language therapy is time well spent. We follow up her groups with gross motor or low demand activites that support her need/want for escape. In short, we go straight back to the "Pre-mack principle." (see previous post: http://michellespecialeducation.blogspot.com/2008/04/benefits-of-daily-routine.html ).


shanny_nole said...

So hard to not die laughing with my buddy when things like this happen. Just goes to show that Kids really do say and do the darndest things:)

Michelle_special_ed_teacher said...

It IS hard not to laugh right then! And sometimes we do. :-)