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Behavior Intervention Plan

A behavioral intervention plan (BIP) is designed for a specific child to try to help that child learn to change her or his behavior. Once the function of a student's behavior has been determined, the Individual Education Program (IEP) Team should develop the behavior intervention plan

A behavioral intervention plan can be thought of as a plan to support the student in order to help him or her change behavior. Effective support plans consist of multiple interventions or support strategies and are not punishment. Positive behavioral intervention plans increase the acquisition and use of new alternative skills, decrease the problem behavior and facilitate general improvements in the quality of life of the individual, his or her family, and members of the support team.

As the IEP team is developing the BIP, they should keep in mind some key characteristics of individual positive behavioral support interventions. The plan should focus is on the whole child .and teach the child coping strategies. It must be proactive and strength based. The plan must address the function of the behavior and include information gathered in the functional behavioral assessment. Changing the environment when appropriate and possible and recognizing and modifying behavioral triggers are key components of any plan. In order for the plan to make improvements in the child's whole life, it is important to teach the child self management skills. The ability to implement the plan effectively is trust and relationship dependent. The child must be willing to work with the adults who are implementing the plan and believe that they are trying to help him or her.

Comprehensive behavioral intervention plans have antecedent and setting event modifications, the teaching of alternative skills, consequence strategies, and lifestyle interventions. Some examples of positive supports that might be included in a behavior intervention plan are:

  • Teaching the child replacement behaviors
  • Rewarding the child for using socially acceptable behavior
  • Teaching the child to avoid the behavior "triggers"
  • Teaching the child to identify emotions
  • Changing the responses of the adults
  • Changing negative stimuli in the environment
  • Identify a caring adult to give positive time at school
  • Supporting the child at problematic times

When the IEP team is ready to create a behavior intervention plan, they should start by brainstorming possible interventions and then clarifying the items on the brainstorm list. The members of the team should discuss the appropriateness of interventions on the list in terms of how they relate to the hypothesis and how easy they would be to use within typical routines across settings in the classroom and the school. Hopefully this discussion will help the group select the most appropriate interventions. Next they need to identify the types of supports team members will need in order to implement the selected interventions. If a staff person is going to work individually with the student on a specific social skill, someone will need to be sure that the person's other duties are covered. The selected interventions and support for staff and the student should be documented in the plan. How and when the BIP will be evaluated must be included, also.

At times it may be possible to modify the environment of the student by implementing preventive strategies. Some examples of these are teachers stating clear expectations, modifying seating arrangements, adapting the pace of instruction, avoiding exposing the student to long delays, providing a choice of activities, and allowing the student to take breaks.

There are three types of alternative skill instruction. Replacement skills or behaviors must serve the exact same function as the problem behavior. More general skills alter the problem situations and help prevent the need for the problem behavior. These skills may include academic instruction if academic deficits are the main reason the student has behavioral issues. Coping and tolerance skills such as anger management are things the student learns to do when he or she is faced with difficult situations.

Replacement Behaviors must serve the same function and have meaning for the student. It is important that the behavior be something the student is capable of doing and be socially acceptable in the context. The behavior must be immediately effective and tolerable to the teacher. An effective replacement behavior must fit into the natural environment of the school and classroom with as little change as possible. The replacement behavior must be at least as effective as the problem behavior. The amount of physical effort required, the ease with which others can interpret the behavior, the likelihood that the behavior will produce the desired result and the delay between the behavior and the desired result (or function) must be equivalent or less than original behavior.

The student must be willing to learn the replacement behavior. The behavior must be taught directly by explaining and discussing the benefits to the student, modeling the skill, and allowing the student to practice the behavior with reinforcement. Many times a replacement behavior is teaching the student how to communicate needs more directly. As the student begins to be able to use replacement behaviors, school staff should create situations for the student to practice the new skills. Staff persons need to be aware that change occurs in small steps. The student's problem behavior is comfortable, habitual and works. It takes a while to change any behavior.

Part of the plan should be effective consequence strategies. Planned consequences reinforce the acquisition and use of alternative skills and reduce the effectiveness of problem behavior should it continue to occur. Having planned consequences should help teach the student that his/her use of alternative skills is a better way to bring about the desired result.

Because it does take a while for a behavior intervention plan to change a student's behavior, it is important that the IEP team decide what will happen when the problem behavior still occurs. If it is a manageable behavior, it is important to come up with responses that discourage the problem behavior and do not provide the function or desired result of the behavior. In some cases the behavior may be extreme. The IEP team should develop a crisis plan to address those situations. First the group needs to define what is a crisis. Then they should describe the intervention procedures to be put into place including who will be involved. They must identify the resources needed to implement the plan and agree on the procedures for documenting the use of the crisis plan.

Lifestyle Interventions may be included in a comprehensive behavior intervention plan. These interventions lead to a general improvement in the student's quality of life. Examples are helping the student have the opportunity to make friends, assisting him or her in accessing events or activities of interest, and giving more personal choice and power over age-appropriate life decisions. If learning social skills has a pay off in terms of making the student's life more enjoyable and desireable the student will have even more reason to use them. In order for lifestyle interventions to be effective there must be on-going, long-term support for the student.

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