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Functions of Behavior: Part 3

In part three of our functions of behavior series, we are looking at some antecedent strategies to hopefully avoid challenging behaviors as well as replacement behaviors to teach a more functional way for your child to communicate in those moments.

A Behavior Support Plan includes:

  • Antecedent strategies to hopefully alter the environment so the behavior does not occur 
  • Replacement behaviors to teach in place of the challenging behavior
  • Consequence procedures to inform caregivers and staff of how to respond once the behavior has occurred

Let’s look at our examples from the last post and add some antecedent strategies and replacement behaviors.

Antecedent: Mom tells Jimmy it is time to clean up
Behavior: Jimmy starts throwing the toys and runs away
 Consequence: Mom cleans up for Jimmy 

In this instance, mom has likely reinforced the behaviors (i.e., throwing and running away) and has shown Jimmy he does not have to listen to her instructions. Based on this antecedent, the function of throwing and running away was to escape from cleaning up.

Some potential ideas for next time: Antecedent strategies Mom can give Jimmy a 1 minute warning (i.e., “One more minute to play and then we will clean up”) Use a visual timer so Jimmy can see how much time is left to play. Provide choices for what Jimmy will get to do after cleaning up his toys (i.e. “After we clean up toys, do you want to eat a snack or play outside?). 
Replacement behaviors Allow Jimmy to ask for “more” time playing, then allow him 1 more minute of play time for asking nicely. Jimmy can ask for “help” cleaning up and mom can clean up alongside Jimmy. 

Antecedent: Samantha is at the grocery store with her dad and she picks out 2 bags of candy. Dad tells her no. 
Behavior: Samantha drops to the ground crying and kicking her feet.
Consequence: Dad gives Samantha the candy to stop her from crying.

In this instance, dad has likely reinforced the behavior (i.e., tantrum) and showed Samantha she can get access to preferred items when she engages in tantrum behavior. Based on this antecedent, the function of her crying and kicking feet was to gain access to this tangible item of candy.

Some potential ideas for next time:

Antecedent strategies 
Upon entering the grocery store, Dad can give Samantha 2 choices of what she can pick out (i.e. one piece of candy or one snack bag).
Dad can bring snacks from home to the store that Samantha is allowed to have and provide her a choice before starting the shopping.

Replacement behaviors 
Dad can give Samantha a functional way to ask for the candy item before engaging in behaviors (e.g., point to the candy, request to have 1, etc.).
Dad can ask Samantha to “wait” until they finish grocery shopping and then she may have the piece of candy she requested. 

Additional antecedent strategies to consider:

  • Use first-then language (i.e. first clean up toys, then we eat snack) to keep them motivated to listen and follow directions. Use items that motivate the child such as preferred toys, snacks, or activities. Provide these choices before giving an instruction and before behaviors occur.
  • Use a visual schedule so your child can see what activities are coming up to help with the transition (i.e. bedtime routine, getting ready for school, etc.). 
  • Provide lots of praise and attention when your child is listening to directions and doing what they are asked (tickles, hugs, extra time to play).

Things to keep in mind when teaching replacement skills: 

  • Replacement skills should have the same function as the behavior they are engaging in and be just as easy as the behavior they are engaging in (ex: If your child is screaming when it is time to clean up, they can ask for more time playing).
  • Try to use skills the child already demonstrates such as pointing, using picture icons or using one word to communicate.
  • Make sure to reinforce the replacement skill, even if you have to help the child engage in that behavior.
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Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

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My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

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I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

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LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

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We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

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They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

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We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

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LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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