- A Brief Explanation of Discrete Trial Training
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
- Applied Behavior Analysis: A Focus on Outcomes
- A Challenge to Reframe our Thinking About Behavior
- Concerning Consequences: What Do I Do When...?
- Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
- Don't Forget About Self Management
- Ever Had a Crisis Kind of Day?
- Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities
- Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism: an Impetus to Re-Examine Behavioral Issues
- Observing Behavior Using A-B-C Data
- Positive Behavior Supports Creating Meaningful Life Options for People with ASD
- Ten Steps Towards Supporting Appropriate Behavior
- The Challenge of Combining Competing Input in the Classroom
- "Your Attitude Just Might Be My Biggest Barrier"
- Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining
- Tips for Choosing a Provider for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- What to Consider When Looking for a Qualified ABA Provider
- “If They Could Only Tell Me What They Are Thinking.” The Need for Augmentative Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Assessment Day: Questions About the Communication Development of Your Young Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions
- Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?
- Comprehension of the Message: Important Considerations for Following Directions
- First Steps and the Journey to a Diagnosis of ASD for a Child under Three
- Functional Categories of Delayed Echolalia
- Functional Categories of Immediate Echolalia
- Initial Guidelines for Developing a Communication Intervention Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Significant Limitations in Communication Ability
- Long and Short Term Strategies for Reducing Specific Repetitive Questions
- Successfully Using PECS with Children with ASD
- Meeting the Challenge of Social Pragmatics with Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Opportunity to Communicate: A Crucial Aspect of Fostering Communication Development
- Reading with Your School-Age Child: Building Vocabulary One Word at a Time
- Social Communication and Language Characteristics Associated with High Functioning, Verbal Children and Adults with ASD
- The 21st Century Speech Language Pathologist and Integrated Services in Classrooms
- The High Functioning Person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A "Tourist" in His Native Country
- The Role of the School Speech Language Pathologist and the Student with Autism
- Using a Visual Support to Enhance WH Question
- Visual Resources for Enhancing Communication for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities
- Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions
- Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
- What is the Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS?
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- PICO - A Decision Making Tool For Selecting Apps
- Helping Your Child to Develop Communication Skills
- Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Communication and Social Intervention
- Important Predictors
- The Use of Technology in Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Teaming
- Educational Programming
- Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Advice from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teachers Regarding Literacy Instruction
- Advice for Peer Tutors
- Applying the Ziggurat and CAPS Model in Your School District
- Aspects of Support for Learning
- A Young Adult's Guide to Deep Breathing as a Relaxation Technique: A Personalized Fact Sheet
- Can Schedule Usage Training Include Elements of Literacy Instruction?
- Clean Up Your Act! Creating an Organized Classroom Environment for Students on the Spectrum.
- Change is Good! Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum when Introducing Novelty
- Classroom Choreography: The Art of Scheduling Staff and Students
- Creating a Circle of Support
- Complexities of Instructional Support
- Critical Features of Early Intervention: Merging Best Practices
- Developing Long Term Relationships Between School and Parents
- Early Intervention for Young Children on the Autism spectrum: Parent’s Perspective
- Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
- Establishing Long Term Goals: What Are We Hoping to Achieve
- For General Education Teachers: Helpful Questions to Ask About Students with ASD
- Get Engaged: Designing Instructional Activities to Help Students Stay On-Task
- "Ham It Up and Get It Cookin!!" Thoughts From Dr. Greenspan
- Home-School Communication
- "I Can Do It Myself!" Using Work Systems to Build Independence in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- “I Wake Up for MY Dream!” Personal Futures Planning Circles of Support, MAPS and PATH
- Life After High School...So Now What
- Literacy Resources
- Lovaas Revisited: Should We Have Ever Left?
- Making the Most of Morning Meeting
- Motivating Students Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Moving from Preschool to Kindergarten: Planning for a Successful Transition and New Relationships
- Peer Support Programs
- Promoting the Educational Success of Students with Autism: The Role of the Parent-Staff Relationship
- Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
- Practical Steps to Writing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: And Writing Them Well
- Practical Recommendations for Utilizing a Range of Instructional Approaches in General Education Settings
- Recognizing Different Types of Readers with ASD
- Reframing Our Thinking and Getting to Know the Child
- Restricted Repertoires in Autism and What We Can Do About It
- School Cultures that Support Students Across the Autism Spectrum
- Service Learning: Something to Think About
- Supporting Staff Using Coaching Model
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome
- Teaching Students Who Are Low-Functioning: Who Are They and What Should We Teach?
- Theory of Mind in Autism: Development, Implications, and Intervention
- There is No Place Called Inclusion
- The Road to Post-Secondary Education: Questions to Consider
- Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism
- Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education
- Transition: Preparing for a Lifetime
- Transition to Middle School
- Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another
- Understanding the Design and Power of a Personal Schedule
- Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents
- Who Are We Working for Anyway? Avoiding Personal Agendas at Meetings to Better Support Individuals Across the Autism Spectrum
- Structured Teaching Strategies: A Series
- Growing Up Together
- How to Open A Combination Lock/Locker
- Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through Postsecondary Transition
- Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Implementation and Effectiveness of Using Video Self-Modeling with Students with ASD
- Video Self-Modeling How To and Examples
- Advocates: Qualities to Look for and Choosing the Correct One for YOU
- Considering an Overnight Camp Program for your Child on the Autism Spectrum?
- Finding or Starting a Support Group
- Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
- Selected Bibliography for Families of People within the Autism Spectrum
- Selected National Resources for Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Selected Resources for Understanding and Supporting Siblings
- Setting the Stage for Parent-Professional Collaboration
- Siblings Perspectives: Some Guidelines for Parents
- What About the Dads?
- When Your Child is Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Son/Daughter Might Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- For Parents: Preparing for the School Year
- Self Help/Medical
- Teaching a Young Man to Shave
- An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The "M" Word
- Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads
- Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite:
- Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist
- Teaching a Young Woman to Shave
- Anxiety and Panic Struggles
- Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Having THE Talk with Your Child with ASD
- General Information
- Assessment Processes for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Purpose and Procedures
- Autism Awareness Month: Facts and Tips for Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder
- Disability Information for Someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Customized Example
- Getting Started: Introducing Your Child to His or Her Diagnosis of Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Increasing Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Continues in Indiana
- Standardized Tests and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Article 7, Title 511
- What’s in a Name: Our Only Label Should Be Our Name: Avoiding the Stereotypes
- For Physicians: Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders and Working with Schools
- Behavioral Issues and the Use of Social Stories
- How to “Lose the Training Wheels:” A New Way to Teach Bicycle Riding
- Living in Fear: Anxiety in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Local Community Resources to Enhance Activities
- Making (and Keeping) Friends: A Model for Social Skills Instruction
- Making Camps Accessible for All
- Play in the Lives of Young Children with Autism
- Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Social Activity Groups: Another Approach for Helping to Bridge the Friendship Gap
- Teaching Social Skills through Theatre
- The Collective Outcomes of School-Based Social Skill Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum
- The Value of Movement Activities for Young Children
- We All Need Exercise
- Finding a Friend in School
- Bullying and Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Articles by Temple Grandin
- An Inside View of Autism
- Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome
- Evaluating the Effects of Medication
- Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism
- Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work
- Social Problems: Understanding Emotions and Developing Talents
- Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism
Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
Contributed by Steve Buckmann & Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., Indiana Resource Center for Autism
Though challenging behaviors are frequently the primary obstacle in supporting students with Asperger's Syndrome, there are few published studies to direct educators towards the most effective behavioral approaches for these students. What we know to date is largely based on experience and relies heavily on generalizing strategies from the applied behavior analysis arena. However, what appears most evident (given the heterogeneity even among these individuals) is that a primarily categorical approach will be unsuccessful for most, and that effective behavior support will require highly individualized practices which address primary areas of difficulty in social understanding and interactions, pragmatic communication, managing anxiety, preferences for sameness and rules, and ritualistic behaviors.
Recent reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '97) will greatly impact how behavioral support is conceptualized and delivered to students with Asperger's Syndrome. IDEA '97 requires school districts to conduct functional behavioral assessments when student behavior negatively impacts individual student learning and the school environment. Although functional behavioral assessment has been regarded for many years as best practice for supporting a diverse array of students, its application to school settings in general, and individuals with Asperger's Syndrome in particular, is in its infancy. A general understanding of the characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome in combination with a functional analytic approach to developing positive behavioral supports is needed to achieve best outcomes on behalf of these students.
General Characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome:
Williams (1995) provided a concise description of a broad range of characteristics of individuals with Asperger's Syndrome that may influence a student's school performance, and that provide a beginning road map for instructional and behavioral support issues that must be addressed in the school setting:
- Insistence on sameness: easily overwhelmed by minimal changes in routines, sensitive to environmental stressors, preference for rituals.
- Impairment in social interactions: unable to understand the "rules" of interaction, poor comprehension of jokes and metaphor, pedantic speaking style.
- Restricted range of social competence: preoccupation with singular topics such as train schedules or maps, asking repetitive questions about circumscribed topics, obsessively collecting items.
- Inattention: poor organizational skills, easily distracted, focus on irrelevant stimuli, difficulty learning in group contexts.
- Poor motor coordination: slow clerical speed, clumsy gait, unsuccessful in games involving motor skills.
- Academic difficulties: restricted problem solving skills, literal thinking, deficiencies with abstract reasoning.
- Emotional vulnerability: low self- esteem, easily overwhelmed, poor coping with stressors, self- critical.
Characteristic of a Functional Analytic Approach to Developing Positive Behavioral Support:
A functional analytic approach to developing effective positive behavioral supports rests on the use of a process commonly (and most recently) known as functional behavioral assessment. Functional behavioral assessment involves employing a diverse array of strategies (e.g., person-centered planning, team meetings, systematic interviews, direct observations) to formulate hypotheses about why an individual behaves as they do. In order to effectively adopt a functional behavioral assessment approach, several assumptions about behavior must be regarded as valid:
- Behavior is functional - it serves a specific purpose(s). For individuals with Asperger's Syndrome, these functions may be expressed in highly idiosyncratic and often complex verbal ways.
- Behavior has communicative value (if not specific intent). Though it is generally accepted that all behavior has communicative value, it is important to remember that individuals with Asperger's Syndrome generally do not have a behavioral intent to disrupt educational settings, but instead problematic behaviors may arise from other needs, for example, self-protection in stressful situations. Although students with Asperger's Syndrome typically have excellent language skills, their ability to use communication effectively in a social context may be extremely affected. Inappropriate behavior may be the only available communicative response to difficult situations until other options are systematically taught.
- Behavior is context related. All individuals demonstrate some level of variability in behavior across different settings. This is just as true for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome. In fact, understanding how setting specific features impact an individual (either positively or negatively) is one of the chief outcomes of a functional behavioral assessment. This information has particular value for adopting preventive efforts or to set the stage for teaching alternative skills.
- Effective behavioral support is contingent on understanding the student, the context in which he operates, and the reason(s) for behavior.
- Though there is often disagreement about the best means to conduct a comprehensive functional behavioral assessment, most researchers and clinicians are in agreement about the key outcomes of such an assessment. They are:
- A clear and unambiguous description of the problematic behavior(s);
- A description of situations most commonly, and least commonly associated with the occurrence of problematic behavior; and
- Identification of the consequences that maintain behavior. In other words, once a behavior starts, what keeps it going over time? What is reinforcing the behavior so that it continues?
Conducting a functional behavioral assessment is a hollow exercise unless it provides information that: á increases understanding of the individual, the problem behavior itself, and the physical and social setting(s) in which the behavior occurs; and â can be used to guide the development of supports that are logically connected to this information. Once general understanding of problem behaviors is achieved, it is useful to adopt a positive behavioral support framework to systematically delineate interventions.
Positive behavioral supports are often difficult to define given the diversity of strategies and supports that encompass this term. However, it is important to remember a few hallmarks of positive behavioral supports, including: á a focus on preventing the occurrence of problem behavior; â a focus on teaching socially acceptable alternatives to problem behavior, especially alternatives that serve the same purpose as the problem behavior, and therefore are more likely to be adopted by the individual; and ã a focus on expanding beyond consequence strategies, and in particular those generally used as programs (e.g., time out, response costs) across a student's entire school day without regard for how they might match or mismatch with behavioral functions or individual student need.
Bambara and Knoster (1995) proposed a comprehensive format for outlining "multi-component" supports which addresses the following issues: á antecedent/setting event strategies; â alternative skills training; ã consequence strategies; and ä long term prevention. Each of these areas will be addressed in turn:
Antecedent/setting event strategies: The primary goals of this type of strategy are to prevent or reduce the likelihood of problem behavior and to set the stage for learning more adaptive skills over time. For example, many students with Asperger's Syndrome have difficulty with noisy, crowded environments. Therefore, the newly arrived high school freshman who becomes physically aggressive in the hallway during passing periods may need an accommodation of leaving class a minute or two early to avoid the congestion which provokes this behavior. Over time, the student may learn to negotiate the hallways simply by being more accustomed to the situation, or by being given specific instruction or support.
Key issues to address when discussing this type of strategy are:
- What can be done to eliminate the problem (i.e., the antecedent condition)?
- What can be done to modify the situation if it cannot be eliminated entirely?
- Will the antecedent strategy need to be permanent, or is it a temporary "fix" which allows the student (with support) to increase skills needed to manage the situation in the future?
The importance of using antecedent strategies should not be underestimated among the constellation of support strategies. Student's with Asperger's Syndrome often have to manage a great amount of personal stress. Striking a balance of short and long term accommodations through manipulating antecedents to problem behavior is often critical in setting the stage for later skill development.
Alternative Skills Training: The primary purpose of this type of strategy is to teach skills that replace problem behavior by serving the same purpose as the challenging behavior. For example, a young child with Asperger's Syndrome may have trouble "entering" into a kickball game by asking to play and simply inserts himself into the game, thereby offending the other players and risking exclusion. Instead, the child can be coached on how and when to ask to enter into the game.
Again, Knoster and Bambara (1995) provide a particularly useful framework for guiding efforts towards teaching alternative skills by examining the following three categories: equivalence training, general skills training, and self- regulation training.
Equivalence training requires support persons to ask the following sequential questions:
- What is the function of the problem behavior?
- What alternative skill(s) will be taught which serves the same function as the problem behavior?
- How will the alternative skills be taught?
General skills training requires asking the following sequential questions:
- What skill deficits are contributing to the problem behavior?
- What other academic, social, or communication skills will be taught that will prevent the problem behavior from occurring?
- How will these alternative skills be taught?
Self-regulation training requires asking the following sequential questions:
- What event's appear to be contributing to the student's anger or frustration in reference to the problem behavior?
- What self-control skills will be taught to help the student deal with difficult/frustrating situations?
- How will these skills be taught?
One particularly relevant means to teach alternative skills is through the use of self-management strategies. Self-management is a procedure in which people are taught to discriminate their own target behavior, and record the occurrence or absence of that target behavior (Koegel, Koegel & Parks, 1995). Self-management is a particularly useful technique to assist individuals to achieve greater levels of independent or even inter- dependent functioning across many settings and situations. By learning self-management techniques, individuals can become more self- directed and less dependent on continuous supervision and control. Instead of teaching situation specific behaviors, self-management teaches a more general skill that can be applied in an unlimited number of settings. The procedure has particular relevance and immediate utility for students with Asperger's Syndrome.
The basic steps for teaching self- management, as outlined by Koegel, Koegel and Parks (1995) are: á clearly define the target behavior; â identify student reinforcers; ã design or choose a self-management method or recording device; ä teach the individual to use the self- management device; and å teach self-management independence. Readers are encourage to access this article for further instructions in this process.
It is also important for teachers to monitor their own behavior vigilantly when working with student's with Asperger's Syndrome. Each time a teacher reprimands a student for mis-behavior, an opportunity to reframe the moment in terms of the student's need to develop alternative skills through a means such as self-management training may be lost.
Consequence strategies: Though consequences have traditionally been framed in terms of how they reduce problem behavior as punishment for behavior, reframing consequences in terms of reinforcement for achieving alternative behaviors should be the focus for student's with Asperger's Syndrome. One way to reframe the use of consequences is to develop them as planned responses to instructional situations. This shift in the type and use of consequences does not mean that negative consequences can or should be eliminated, especially in moments of crisis, but that a predominance of negative consequences is likely to heighten anxiety levels for the student and compete with teaching alternative skills.
Long term prevention: In the presence of immediate behavioral concerns, it may be difficult to adopt a long term approach to a student's educational program. However, it is imperative that plans for supporting a student over the long term be outlined right from the start. Many procedures and supports with the most relevance and utility for student's with Asperger's Syndrome (specific accommodations, peer supports, social skills, and self- management strategies) must be viewed as procedures that are developed progressively as the child moves through school. These are not crisis management strategies but the very things that can decrease the occurrence of crisis situations.
Once these questions are addressed, behavior support plans can be established. At the heart of these behavior support plans should be a discussion about how students with Asperger's fit into typical classroom management practices and school- wide discipline procedures. One issue to consider is how a student responds to practices such as response costs, penalties, or fines which are often built into such frameworks. Many students with Asperger's Syndrome become highly anxious in the presence of such penalties, and often cannot regroup following their application. This is especially true if threats over losing highly preferred items or activities are used. Another issue relates to school-wide discipline procedures. Schools which focus on suspension and expulsion as the primary approach rather than on teaching social skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, and on building community learning will typically be less effective with all students, including those with Asperger's. When school-wide discipline procedures and classroom management practices are adopted which are ineffective with the broader school population, students with Asperger's will use their behavior to highlight the weaknesses in these systems. As a result, school staff are forced to adopt intrusive practices which would be unnecessary in more effective systems. Once broader systems are addressed, family members and professionals will often need training about principles of behavior support, and about the characteristics of individuals with Asperger's Syndrome. There are many false assumptions about this population. For example, assumptions about what an individual with Asperger's Syndrome understands, especially related to social conventions, often sparks confrontation with the student but also among staff when discussing appropriate interventions.
Finally, those involved with the student will need to collaborate on a behavior support plan which is clear and easily implemented. Once developed, the plan will need to be monitored across settings. Inconsistencies in our expectations and behaviors, will only serve to heighten the challenges demonstrated by an individual with Asperger's.
Bambara, L. M. & Knoster, T. P. (1995). Guidelines: Effective behavioral support. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education.
Koegel, R. L., Koegel, L. K., & Parks, D. R. (1995). "Teach the individual" model of generalization: Autonomy through self-management. In R. L. Koegel & L. K. Koegel (Eds.), Teaching children with autism: Strategies for initiating positive interactions and improving learning opportunities (pp. 67-77). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.
Williams, K. (1995). Understanding the student with Asperger Syndrome: Guidelines for teachers. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 10, 9-16.
Pratt, C. & Buckman, S. (1999). Supporting students with Asperger’s syndrome who present behavioral challenges. The Reporter, 4(3), 6-10, 14.