Recently, some members of the Behavior Department were fortunate enough to attend a lecture on Behavior and Anxiety. The lecture was given by Jessica Minahan, M. Ed, BCBA, an experienced public school consultant who focuses on understanding the variables that may lead to students acting out. Jessica is also the co-author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students with Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors, and The Behavior Code Blog for the Huffington Post. The focus of this lecture was on how behavior is communication and should lead staff, parents, and caregivers to investigate skills to develop to help our students become more successful and productive.
Specifically on the topic of transitioning, one suggested way to create more successful transitions is to essentially create a task analysis, breaking an activity down into smaller steps, and determine what part of the transition is the problem. Breaking a pattern of behavior can be tricky, but when we can break it down, we can identify where we need to add supports or make modifications. Here at the League School of Greater Boston, we look to identify what part of the transition appears to be challenging and determine what supports or modifications we can use to help create more successful transitions. Some common challenges we identify during transitions include; stopping a preferred activity, transitioning during a busy time, lacking clear expectations for the transition, and transitioning to a difficult or less preferred activity.
Some supports and modifications that are used throughout our setting to help prevent some of the challenges that can be seen during transitions include; visual schedules, personal visual supports, creating clear and simple expectations for each transition, providing teacher support and attention, creating clear expectations during preferred activities (how long, when time is up), and transitioning from a most preferred activity to a neutral activity before transitioning to a less preferred activity. Supports and modifications can be and are individualized per students depending on their level of need and the function of each student’s behaviors. It is important to note that all supports and modifications may not be successful for each student.
Being mindful of how demands can be presented can also lead to increased success in transitioning or engagement. When presenting any demand situation, it typically is more productive to do so in a neutral tone and supportive tone. Including students interests can also lead to an increase of successful engagement. We all know, we sometimes have to do things we really don’t want to do. In these situations, we provide as many choices so the student is able to be successful in meeting the goal of the activity.
We are very grateful to have been able to attend this wonderful lecture. These two books have been great resources in helping our department to support our students in growing into successful and productive adults.