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Managing Behaviors in Special Education

Behavior Management Ideas That Worked!
Conducting A Functional Behavioral Assessment
Creating a Behavior Modification Plan
Functional Behavioral Assessment
How to Deal With Disruptive Students

As special education laws continue to be redefined and implemented, managing behaviors in special education becomes a hot topic from time to time. Twenty years ago, congress enacted PL 101-476, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA and its amendments, districts are responsible for addressing behavioral needs of a student with special needs. Should there be a need to remove the child from his setting due to discipline reasons, there are strict guidelines that must be adhere to, such as holding a manifestation determination and providing an Interim Alternative Education Setting (IAES).

Once a child has been identified as having one of the recognized handicapping conditions, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) needs to develop an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Part of the plan must include information regarding the child's emotional and behavioral levels and needs. Based on this information, IEP goals and objectives need to be written to address the needs. Furthermore, if there are IEP behavioral goals, then a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) needs to be developed. The BIP outlines step-by-step interventions that will take place to address behavior. Most BIPs include:

- Explaining expected behaviors and what is required of the student

- Providing structure, routine and consistency for the child. When there is a special assembly, a field trip, etc., prepare the child in advance for change.

- Providing clear and fair consequences

- Following-through on consequences

- Using proactive measures when possible

- Providing teacher resources (i.e. counselor, time-out area)

- Identifying who will be notified of appropriate and inappropriate behavior

For many special needs students who struggle with behavioral needs, transition times and non-instructional times of the school day are the most challenging portions of the school day to deal with. To help manage behavior during these times, teachers should consider these techniques:

- Explain and demonstrate the expected behavior

- Use cues to inform students that an activity will soon be ending

- Provide choices for "down time" activities

- Reinforce appropriate behaviors

- Maintain close proximity to a child who's about to behave inappropriately

- Provide whole class incentives for smooth transitions

Another main area in which behavior needs to be managed, is keeping students on task. To assist in this area, try these techniques:

- When teacher worksheets are handed out, check for understanding of directions. Ask a student to verbally restate the directions.

- Set a time limit. Some children respond well to having to complete an assignment within a given amount of time.

- To help reinforce on-task behaviors, utilize rubrics, contracts or behavior charts.

- Assign a student who demonstrates appropriate behavior to sit near a child who struggles with on-task behavior.

- Assign a manageable amount of work. For a student struggling with ADHD, cut and paste questions from worksheets so that you have just 2-3 questions on a page.

As special education law continues to evolve, guidelines regarding managing behaviors in special education evolve as well. A student with special needs is to be afforded a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Measures need to be taken to ensure that behaviors are managed so that FAPE can be obtained.

Resources On Behavior Management

  1. Behavior-Development-Individuality
  2. Behavior Management
  3. You Can Handle Them All

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