This will be part 1 of 3 on challenging behaviour. There’s a lot that could be covered, so I thought I would spread them across 3 posts to not overwhelm readers!
First, the following point should be noted. I’ve heard people say something like, ‘little Jonny had a behaviour in the last session’; well I should hope so, as behaviour is anything a living organism does. Referring to an incident as a challenging behaviour, or problem behaviour is clearer.
Challenging behaviour is a reality for many of those on the spectrum. Challenging behaviour can present in many different ways, but it’s important to look at why something is happening – the antecedent.
For each incident of challenging behaviour, we should strive to look at the ABC (antecedent, behaviour, consequence).
A – Antecedent – the ‘trigger’, why did it happen, the function
B – Behaviour – what the learner did, the challenging behaviour
C – Consequence – what consequence was achieved
Rather than adopting a blanket consequence for a challenging behaviour, we should use the consequence appropriate to the antecedent. For example, a child may hit regularly, but each incident may occur for a different reason. What we do should be dictated on why the problem behaviour occurred.
There’s no such thing as ‘out of the blue’. It may seem that way as the antecedent isn’t clear, but there is always a reason. When it’s difficult to see the antecedent, it may be worth taking some video, and if you catch any challenging behaviour, watch it back and see if you notice anything. Try looking at what happened immediately before the onset of the incident.
Taking constant accurate data is vital. It’s the data, and graphing the data that informs us whether we are making good decisions, and whether the improvement is because of our interventions. It’s a good idea to take data on the following; total frequency of problem behaviour, total duration of problem behaviour, and frequency of problem behaviour for each antecedent (I’ll discuss common antecedents in Part 2).