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Behavior Modification

Plans for Developmentally Disabled Children

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Supporting behavioral needs in developmentally delayed children. One of the best approaches to use to modify behaviors for mild to severe mentally disabled children is to use behavioral objectives. Most importantly the behaioral objectives need to be measurable. In other words, how will success of the objective be measured?

Synopsis

  • Behavior objectives are statements that will describe no more than 3 things about the individual's behavior.
  • State exactly what the behavior is that is being exhibited. .
  • Describe how often and how much the behavior is being exhibited.
  • Indicate the specific circumstances for when the behavior occurs.

Behavior objectives must be stated very specifically and in observalble and measurable terms, again, you need to think about how the behaviour will be measured. Writing effective behavior objectives requires a great deal of practice, be prepared to reflect on your objectives and learn from them. You will soon find out what works and what doesn't.

Starting Out

What is the behavior? Think about verbs when considering behavior. Examples could be: cries, feeds self, runs, sits, swallows, says, lifts, chews, holds, walks etc. These statements are all measurable and easily defined.

Let's practice writing a few behavior objectives using some of the above examples: If we use the word 'feeds self'. We can state that "Student LM will use a spoon without spilling food on 5 attempts to feed. We can use the word 'walks' and state that Student LM will walk to the coatrack at recess time without assistance. Both of these statements are clearly measurable and one can determine if the objective is being met successfully or not.

An important item to remember when stating your objectives is to specify a time limit for when the behavior is being achieved. Specify the number of repetitions that will be required and state the accuracy level. You can also state the level of performance you are looking for. For example, feed him/herself without spilling food. You may also set the conditions for the pinpointed behaviors. For example: Student LM will eat meals, using a spoon without spilling food on at least 5 attempts at lunch time. Or, Student LM motions for the teacher's attention after a task has been completed when the teacher is NOT busy with another student. Again, notice that these statements are all measurable and observable.

Remember the 3 Rules:

  1. Pinpoint the verb for the behavior you want the student to perform
  2. Describe how well and or how often the student will perform the behavior.
  3. Describe the conditions or circumstance that the student is expected to perform the pinpointed behavior.

Your goals also need to be meaningful and realistic and not something that the student is already performing.

In summary, the most effective techniques for teaching students with mental retardation or developmental delays come from changing behaviors by using the clearly stated goals and direct observation. Well written behavior objectives can be one of the most useful tools for planning and evaluation the exceptional student's educational goals.

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