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The Multiple Layers of Helping a Child & Family – Part 3

Any behavior program that is undertaken has to be implemented both at home and at school.

A solid behavior program should incorporate an understanding of the child’s level of functioning with respect to his cognitive, receptive and expressive language, gross and fine motor, and sensory and visual skills, as well as auditory functioning and social emotional development.

The behavior program should also take into consideration the topography of the behavior, i.e., what does the behavior look like? A well-designed behavior program needs to consider the severity of the behavior with respect to duration and frequency. The program should also incorporate age-appropriate goals to ensure that competing behaviors are reinforced and inappropriate behaviors are appropriately discouraged. Last, but not least, we have to take into account the parent(s), siblings, extended family, and caretakers who are involved. How many hours do the parents work? When do they get home? Who is caring for the child and sibling? Is the father involved?

I have designed the behavior program in a way so that parents feel it is realistic and practical to implement. As a parent, you will feel heard and understood. Your desire to be there for your child, as well as related feelings, will be accepted and addressed. If you, as a parent, are not being heard, the behavior program is only going to be another stressor for you and your family. And, if inconsistently implemented, could make a problem behavior worse and create additional challenges in helping the child.

Before I design a behavior program, I review all evaluations, discuss treatments with the therapists, and do home and school observations as necessary, during treatments. After considering my observations, and the needs and goals for the child, parents, and family, a program is developed. All involved are trained and the program implemented. Quantifiable and anecdotal data is collected. Weekly visits, observations, retraining, or program revisions occur to facilitate progress. Manifestly, progress is measured by reduced frequency of behaviors targeted for deceleration, while other behaviors and competing behaviors are reinforced or accelerated.

Weekly discussions will include: Parents providing feedback and input about their child’s progress, and updates about interactions among siblings, parents, and the special needs child. As the genesis of the child’s behavior becomes increasingly clear, and as parents learn how and when to intervene, they’ll become more competent parents. They will come to see, with clarity, the strengths and needs of their child, and learn how to support them through difficulties rather than trying to protect them from challenges. Also, they’ll come to recognize their child’s strengths and on-going needs.

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