Monday, May 24, 2010

Developing an Autism Behavior Plan

Intervention, medical or otherwise, is a good way of somehow putting a stop on the progression of autistic behaviors. One good intervention is the autism behavior plan or the Behavior Intervention Plan.

Definition of Behavior Intervention Plan
The Behavior Intervention Plan or BIP is a written plan that lists down supports and strategies to reinforce positive behaviors while discouraging the recurrence of unwanted behaviors. In many ways, this plan may be associated with behavioral analysis, an area in the field of psychology that experiments on the best ways of modifying behaviors. The tools here typically involve the use of the ABC model which shows the relationship between the antecedent or cause of the behavior, the behavior itself, and the consequence of the behavior. Quite simply, BIP focuses on these three areas to improve the behavior of an autistic individual. It gives more attention, however, on the function of the behavior.

According to the principles of functional behavior assessment, all behaviors are purposeful. Although it is clear within autism that some children act spontaneously, many experts believe that these behaviors are not completely devoid of purposes. In one way or another, a behavior serves a purpose for the individual performing it.

There are plenty of ways to determine the function of a particular behavior. One of the most effective is the systematic analysis of a certain behavior that provides a prediction of the motivation behind the behavior. There are at least four categories wherein most behaviors fall under namely, escape or avoidance function, gain attention function, gain sensory input function, and gain a tangible item function.

Special attention should be given in understanding the function of a problem behavior and the indicators for each function since an autism behavior plan is partially established on these functions. Below are some of the widely accepted indicators of each function:

Escape or avoidance function
Misbehaviors typically occur when a task or a new activity is presented. This will continue until the activity has begun. At this point, misbehavior will progress until the autistic individual is allowed to discontinue doing an activity or when he is allowed to leave.

Gain attention function
Before or after performing a specific behavior, the patient would try to gain the caregiver's attention by smiling at him or by performing gestures.

Gain sensory input function
Some behaviors are products of an autistic's need to experience sensory input such the need for better lightning or the need to hear a particular song or melody. This is expressly indicated by the child's direct request for a sensory input.

Gain a tangible item function
This function is indicated by an autistic individual's need to access or get an item. Indications of these may happen before or after the behavior. The autism behavior may begin as a result of a delay in getting the item or when he clearly knows that he cannot have it. It may end when the item is received.

What is included in an autism behavior plan?
Apart from the function of the behavior, other details should appear on the plan. The target behavior is of prime importance. It should be clear for the observer which problem behaviors are targeted for modification and what possible function do these behaviors serve. Based on these two, strategies to increase or decrease the occurrence of the behavior should be specified. Interventions or skills to be taught and external supports needed should also be indicated on the autism behavior plan.

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