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The next step in the 5 Steps to Meaningful Behavioral Support is to gather information. Or to paraphrase my friend Abby, the Undercover Secret Behavior Detective stage. This is the crux of assessing the function of the behavior and has 4 stages that can be used in different combinations, which I’ll address as I go through. All of them are important and all have pros and cons to the information the provide. We need to gather information from the student’s past records and get an understanding of who he or she is. We need to figure out what is motivating and might serve as a
reinforcer for him by doing preference assessments. We also need to gather information from people who work or live with the individual (teachers, family members) to figure out the scope of the behaviors and their impressions. Finally, we need to collect observational data through direct assessment. This is the most time consuming but often the most important stage so we’ll talk about a number of ways to do that.
The first step is to review the individual’s records. One of the most important components of any assessment is to have a thorough understanding of the individual. I always feel great when a parent tells me that I have captured their child and/or their child’s behavior in my assessment–that is a sign to me that I’m on the right track. Another good reason to review as many records as you can access is to find out what has been tried and what has been successful for the individual in the past. For instance, if I see that two years ago this student was using a visual schedule for each transition and when I observe there is no schedule, particularly if the behaviors seem to occur around transitions, one of the first things I’m going to suggest is putting some type of visual schedule back in place. Similarly, if the student used to have a communication device but is no longer using it, I’m going to try to figure out why and how his or her communication skills have developed to assure that he has effective communication. If you are a teacher or working in a school, you have the student’s educational records to review and, if there are outside evaluations that the family has, ask to see those if they aren’t part of the record. Observing in the home might also be helpful if it’s feasible to see if the family has supports that are working for the student. Support will be put in place faster if there is something that has worked before. Similarly, if you are a family member or working with families, they often have evaluation reports and notes from therapists working with their child and from the school. Ask to review any information that they have, including ask to observe at school if possible to see what might be working there.
Below are some resources for reviewing records that are available around the web. If you have others, please share them in the comments.
Special Connections Record Review Notes
Broward County Schools Functional Behavior Assessment Manual has a large variety of forms including a record review form
Until next time,