Monday, October 6, 2014

31 for 21 Day 6: Behavior as Communication

On Friday we had a 30 day review meeting at Colin's school to discuss his progress that consisted of a lot of the staff that is working with him.  We also have been in regular communication with his teacher regarding his progress in school.  We are finding that there is a list of challenges that they are working through with him, with the most challenging being his behavior. 

In trying to problem solve some of these behaviors, I have been spending a lot of time researching behavior in inclusive classrooms and have come across some helpful information.  I recently came across a great website called Inspire Inclusion by Dr. Julie Causton who has some great information as well as webinars that have been helpful.  Through her site, I signed up for newsletters geared towards teachers and parents which have led me to other resources as well.  One of these newsletters led me to Brooks Publishing Company where I found another webinar called "Supporting Behavior in the Inclusive Class".   The main idea of the webinar was that behavior is communication and it really gets you to look at what may be causing these behaviors.  However, more importantly, it identifies strategies that can be used to try and prevent these behaviors from occurring. 
A handful of the behaviors that have been a challenge with Colin at school are related to his still progressing social skills.  This is an area of development that does not come easy for him and is something that we spend a lot of time working on.  Because Colin's speech and language is not as developed as his typical peers, he is not able to express wants and needs easily and sometimes appropriately.  For example, it has been reported a few times that Colin has pushed other students on the playground.  We have also been told that he enjoys chasing and being chased on the playground.  We have seen him socially try to initiate play with others by using his hands instead of his words so it is quite possible that Colin is trying to engage with his peers because he wants to play with them by pushing them.  Colin's attempts to initiate play with Kailey have significantly improved but he is also comfortable with her.  With time, and as he improves upon these skills, we hope to see it translate into the school setting. 
Colin also displays certain behaviors when it comes to doing more challenging work.  We know that since behavior is a means of communication, he is expressing himself by acting out in certain ways.  If the behaviors worsen, then he is escalating those behaviors to convey what he is thinking or feeling.  In order to find strategies to work on improving these behaviors, we have to get to the root of what is causing them and it also takes some creativity to work through them.  The behaviors are reported to us through a checklist based on the goals written in his IEP.  However, I started thinking that maybe Colin could have a role in reporting his behaviors to us himself.  I created this behavior chart today with the hopes his teachers at school can use it by putting a smiley face to represent how well that period went and then review it with him at the end of the day.  Just like we address whether or not he is the same clothes for potty training when he gets off the bus, we can take the sheet out and have him show us how many smiley faces he has.  He can be rewarded for his progress and we can reinforce the negatives. 

We are hoping that we can all work together to figure out what the cause of some of these behaviors are by collecting real data on when, how and with who they occur so that we can find strategies to both prevent them from occurring and to use to correct when they are occurring.  I am grateful for the immense I have gotten from some friends who are more experienced in this than I am...and hoping that we can help Colin to make progress so that he can be successful.

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