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Changing a Student’s Difficult Behaviors: Behavior Consultation with Recommendations

2011 05 12_0228_edited-3A behavior consultation on a specific student with Polly Bath will focus on answering two questions:

1. What is causing the difficult behaviors?
In order to change a student’s behaviors, we must know:

  • The academic, environmental, and/or social settings under which the behaviors occur; and
  • The student’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the influence they have on behaviors in the following domains: cognitive/communicative, social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and self-help.

Ms. Bath will collect the above information through classroom observations, interviews, and a review of school records.  She employs the Mezzocchi Domain Profile* to help pinpoint the causal factors for behaviors.  She also determines what strategies have been used to manage and change behaviors, which ones have worked, and which ones have not.

* An analysis technique developed by her mentor, the late legendary New England behavior expert Dr. Michael A. Mezzocchi.

2. How can the difficult behaviors be managed & changed?
Ms. Bath will make suggestions and provide tools, such as:

  • A pinpointed, manageable list of behaviors to be targeted for change;
  • A behavior intervention plan with built-in consistency and predictability;
  • Specific new skills to be taught to the student that will reduce the need for difficult behaviors;
  • “Cognitive intervention” scripts for adults to use to help the student make better behavior choices on-the-spot;
  • Tips for building/maintaining a non-confrontational relationship with the student in order to avoid power struggles;
  • Recommended accommodations, if desirable;
  • Specific coping skills to be taught to the student to help him/her manage difficult situations;
  • A “social coaching” script for adults to use when needed to coach the student on appropriate situational behavior with peers and adults;
  • A plan for identifying school space and staff for student de-escalation and re-direction, if needed;
  • Identification of and strategies for changing roadblocks in the student’s environment that contribute to behaviors; and
  • How to avoid common pitfalls.

Ms. Bath’s successful methods of behavior management and change are amply supported by research.

A behavior consultation usually takes one day, two at most.  It culminates in a meeting in which Ms. Bath makes a verbal report of her findings and recommendations to the key adults (which might include the team, other school personnel, parents/guardians).  Findings and recommendations are available in writing when requested.