Early Intervention Services 0-4 yrs.

Pre School Readiness Skills 4-6 yrs.

School for Special Education 6-16 yrs.

Pre Voc & Vocational Centre 18+ yrs.

Recreational & Activity Club 5+ yrs.

Remedial Teaching Services Speech, OT,

Mental Disability

Behaviour Modification Technique

Behaviour modification, based on the learning theories, is very effective in reducing the occurrence of undesirable behaviour. However, before implementing the techniques to reduce the undesirable, a detailed assessment of the child in tune with the ITP/IEP (Individualized Educational Programme) principle need to be done.

Steps involved in decreasing undesired behaviour :

1. Identification of problem behaviour: Once the problem of behaviour is brought to the notice of the teachers it is his/ her duty to identify it appropriately.

2. Behavioural description of the problem behaviour: In behaviour modification, symbolic terms of the behaviour have no value. Only behavioural terms are used for describing behaviour. For example, the problem behaviour 'anger' can be viewed as, abusing somebody, shouting at others, beating others or self beating, throwing things at others etc. Hence by using the term anger it will not be possible to plan a management programme. It is essential that the behaviour be described in an objective manner, which could be observed and measured.

3. Prioritization/ Selection of problem behaviour: A child may possess more than one problematic behaviour. But only one or two problems at a time are selected for management. Since selection of more problems would pose difficulty in controlling the environmental factors, which influence the behaviour, this selection or the prioritization of the problem behaviour is done by applying the following criteria:

a. Choosing the problem behaviours, which are easier to manage (This will help the teacher to gain confidence in managing more difficult problem behaviour later).

b. Choosing problem behaviours, which are dangerous in nature for self or to others.

4. Base Line Assessment (Observation Technique): Observation is the process in which one or more persons observe what is occurring in some real life situation and they classify and record pertinent happenings according to some planned scheme.

There are four ways of observation:

a. Event or frequency recording: In event or frequency recording, the number of occurrence of the problem behaviour are documented after direct observation, for a specified period of time in a given day, which is repeated for a minimum of three days. The event or happening that triggers off the problem behaviour is noted. Also the frequency or the number of times that it occurs in a day is noted. This will enable the teacher/person concerned to get a better idea about the behaviour under observation and also enable them to find out the average occurrence of the problem behaviour that will serve as a baseline data. Frequency recording method is used for problem behaviours, which could be counted in numbers.

b. Duration recording: Used to record behaviour, which vary in their length of occurrence. For example, not paying attention in the class (staring outside), over active behaviour, rocking back and forth etc. Recording of the behaviour is obtained by documenting the duration (endurance) of occurrence of the problem behaviour for a specified period of time in a given day. This is noted for a minimum of three days. The average duration of occurrence of the problem behaviour could be calculated for the specified period of time. This method is useful to record behaviours, which vary in length. However, continuous attention is required for accurate assessment, which may not be always possible in a group-teaching set-up.

c. Interval Recording: Occurrence of the problem behaviour is observed in short span of intervals like, observing the behaviour for five minutes every hour. It can be used for recording both frequency and duration of responses. However, even if the problem behaviour occurs in between, the recording will be done only during the intervals chosen for the same.

d. Time Sampling: The problem behaviour is recorded only at a predetermined time. For example, observing the behaviour of the child every 30 minutes. This method is useful when the frequency or the duration of the problem behaviour is more. It does not require continuous observation.

5. Functional analysis (Behavioural analysis): Functional analysis is the process of understanding the complexity of the problem behaviour in its most elementary components. Problem behaviours, which are learnt in nature, may have various environmental influences. According to learning theories, learning occurs through association (classical and operant conditioning), observational learning etc.

There are a number of models available for analyzing behaviour problems.

One simple model is known as A-B-C- model, which is used commonly to analyze problem behaviours of persons with MR. This model helps to identify the factors, which contribute for the occurrence of the problem behaviours.

A stands for the ANTECEDENT factors.

The analysis of antecedent factors, antecedent means before. It helps in identifying the reasons, which contribute to the problem behaviour before its occurrence. The following factors have to be looked into to get more information in this regard.

a.When does the problem behaviour generally occur, like during recess or in the classroom when the teacher is busy with another student or during lunch break etc.?

b. Are there particular times of the day when the problem behaviour tends to occur more? For example, during morning hours or meal times etc.?

c. With whom does the problem behaviour occur? That is, does it occur with any particular person, like with the student who is sitting in the front seat or on the side seat etc.?

d. Where does the problem behaviour occur? That is, are there specific places or situations where the problem behaviour occurs? Example - in the school play ground or classroom or at home or when the child is sitting alone etc.?

B stands for the BEHAVIOUR

That means what happens during the problem behaviour.

Results from the base line assessment of the behaviour will help to analyze the 'during' factors contributing to the problem behaviour and will answer the following questions:

How many times does the problem behaviour occur?

How long does the problem behaviour occur?

C stands for the CONSEQUENCES of the behaviour, i.e., the factors that follow immediately after the behaviour.

Analysis of 'after' factors include answering the following question :

a. What is the reaction of the people around the child immediately after the occurrence of the problem behaviour?

b. What effect does the problem behaviour have on the child or others?

c. Does the child benefit or gain something by indulging in problem behaviour? The analysis of consequences or after factors generally shows that most of the behaviour has a link with benefits (reward or reinforcement). As per the operant conditioning theory, if there were no benefits, the behaviour would cease to occur. Thus functional analysis gives the complete details of behaviour, which would help in identifying the reasons for the particular behaviour.

6. Reasons for problem behaviour: According to Behaviourist theories, particular behaviour is a component of a stimulus and a response. The stimulus factors could be the reason behind the behaviour. Research studies on the behavioural analysis of the problem behaviour of person's with mental handicap have indicated the following reasons :

a. Attention Seeking Factors: Attention has a tremendous influence in the behavioural pattern of an individual - be it any age level. It may not be possible for a person to live without seeking attention from another person. But on many occasions, we tend to seek attention inappropriately. And if we succeed in getting attention to the inappropriate behaviour, it acts as a reinforcement that will make the inappropriate behaviour to occur again - even an eye contact can be reinforcement. It has been observed that attention-seeking behaviour constitutes a major reason for the problematic behaviour of children with MR. In a classroom set-up; the teacher needs to find out whether particular problem behaviour is occurring to get attention. If the problem behaviour tends to occur more when you are not paying attention to the child and stops when you attend to the child, it means that it is an attention seeking behaviour.

b. Self-Stimulation Factors: Sometimes children learn to indulge in repetitive behaviour such as body rocking, thumb sucking etc. This is more commonly observed with severely and profoundly challenged children. Usually self-stimulatory behaviour increases when these children are without any meaningful activity.

c. Escape: On many occasions, children may indulge in problem behaviours in order to escape from a given task. For example, whenever the teacher assigns a task to the child, he/she may start crying. The teacher may then withdraw that activity. The child will gradually learn to cry in order to get away from the activity. If a child's problem behaviour increases in the presence of demands and stops when the demands are removed, it suggests that the child is indulging in the problem behaviour to escape certain demands or situations.

d. Tangible Factors: Some problem behaviour in children may be actually fetching them tangible/material rewards. For example, if mummy gives a biscuit to the crying child so as to make him/her stop crying, the child may temporarily stop crying. But in the long run mummy has indirectly taught the child to cry frequently as that would easily fetch him a tangible reward. This again is a very commonly observed reason for the problem behaviour like 'stubbornness' and 'tantrum throwing'.

e. Skill Deficit Factors: They contribute to many problem behaviours in children with MR. When a child has not learnt or does not know how to behave or respond, in an appropriate manner, his problem behaviour may be an indirect expression of this underlying skill deficit. For example, a child who wants to look at the new colour book of his/her friend may snatch it, instead of asking for it, because of poor communication skills.

7. Identification of Rewards: In behaviour modification, whether it is for increasing the desirable behaviour or for decreasing the undesirable; identification of rewards/reinforcements is an important step. This helps for skill training by way of presenting the reward and for the management of the problem behaviour - by stopping its presentation, if it is followed by problem behaviour.