August 17, 2021 by Ben Schorr 0 Comments

Behavior Support Plan

A behavior support plan (BSP) identifies positive skills and strategies that can help reduce problem behaviors, based on the findings of a functional behavior assessment. In this article, you’ll learn more about how behavior support plans are used to manage challenging behaviors and replace them with appropriate ones.

What Is a Behavior Support Plan?

A behavior support plan (BSP) is a formal written guide intended for teachers, parents, and other individuals working with a child who displays a problem behavior. The plan outlines the strategies that can be used to teach the child new, positive ways to meet their needs in the classroom and at home. 

 

A BSP has two goals: to reduce or stop unwanted behaviors and to increase appropriate behaviors. In order for a BSP to be effective, the alternative behavior must serve the same function as the problem one, but it must be easier to do, more efficient, and socially acceptable. 

 

A behavior support plan relies on the information gathered through functional behavior assessment (FBA) to propose new skills, changes in the child’s environment, and reinforcements that need to be implemented in order to reduce the misbehavior. It can include measures such as creating an alternative schedule, allowing early entry to class or activity, or sitting near the teacher, for example. 

Parts of a behavior support plan

Behavior support plans typically consist of the following parts:

  • Definition of the challenging behavior
  • Interventions needed to replace and reduce the unwanted behavior
  • Plan for teaching and reinforcing new skills
  • Evaluation plan

Definition of the challenging behavior

The definition of the challenging behavior summarizes the findings of the functional behavior assessment. The behavior is described using clear language and the plan lists its antecedents and consequences, in other words, what typically occurs before and after the disruptive behavior.

This part of the plan also includes a hypothesis on why the child engages in the problem behavior and what is its function. Understanding the reasons behind the unwanted behavior will allow for developing adequate strategies to minimize or replace those behaviors.

Interventions needed to reduce and replace unwanted behaviors

An intervention plan indicates the skills or behaviors that should be taught to the child or the changes that can be done in the child’s environment, activities, or personal support to replace the negative behavior. The intervention plan is based on the information gathered during the functional behavior assessment stage.

Plan for teaching and reinforcing new skills

This section of a behavior support plan documents the ways an intervention and individualized support will be implemented within a child’s daily routines in school and at home. The plan needs to be appropriately tailored to the child’s individual needs and abilities. In addition, it must set reasonable and realistic measurements for success.

Evaluation plan

An evaluation plan includes: 

 

  • A short-term goal based on the child’s current performance
  • A long-term goal that focuses on increasing desired behavior
  • Specific procedures that will be used to evaluate progress
  • Data that will be collected to verify whether the plan was implemented correctly and whether it is having an impact on the child’s behavior
  • A specific date for progress review. 

 

Both short-term and long-term goals need to be written in specific, measurable terms and indicate how the team will know when the child reaches the goal. 

Prevention strategies

Prevention strategies are designed to reduce the likelihood of problem behavior occurring in the future. After implementing these strategies, the child will no longer feel the need to engage in the problem behavior to have his or her needs met. 

Replacement skills

Replacement skills are appropriate behaviors that serve the same function as the challenging behavior and can replace them. For example, a child that reacts negatively to loud noises can learn a more appropriate way to respond, such as going to a safe place or using noise-canceling headphones.

 

The purpose of replacement skills is to make the behavior of concern ineffective, so that the new behavior becomes a more efficient way to meet the child’s needs. A behavior support plan should explain in detail how the team is going to teach this replacement behavior.

Consequence strategies

Consequence strategies are guidelines on how adults working with the child are expected to respond to problem behaviors. These strategies include positive reinforcement and minimizing reinforcement for problematic behavior.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a reward for the child’s use of new skills or appropriate behavior. Positive behavior should be reinforced immediately and consistently. What’s more, it needs to serve the same function as the negative behavior. 

Minimizing reinforcement for problematic behavior

In addition to positive reinforcement, the response to problem behavior includes: 

 

  • Redirecting the child to the alternative behavior, for example, immediately reminding the child what would be considered a positive behavior in the given situation.
  • Extinction of the problem behavior, that is, not allowing the behavior to “pay off” for the child. In this case, the teacher should minimize the attention and limit any verbal interactions when the child engages in challenging behavior. Extinction of the interfering behavior should always be combined with positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors.

Long term strategies

This section of the behavior support plan indicates the long-term goals that will assist the child and family in meeting behavior targets. It also describes the ways to reach those goals.

 

A behavior support plan consists of multiple steps. Read on to find out what they are. 

Steps of a Behavior Support Plan

The behavior support process involves the following steps:

  • Define the interfering behavior that needs to be reduced or replaced
  • Outline the antecedent, consequence, and function for the problem behavior 
  • Explain possible causes of the behavior and provide reasoning to justify it
  • Develop a plan that suggests actions that will prevent the unwanted behavior
  • Identify the skills that need to be taught to replace the behavior 
  • Identify short-term and long-term goals for a new behavior or behavior modifications 
  • Create an intervention procedure to achieve these goals
  • Implement the plan consistently across different settings and environments (school, home)
  • Monitor and evaluate the progress of the plan and development of new, positive skills.

Below, we explain the importance of functional behavior assessment in creating an effective behavior support plan. 

Functional Behavior Assessment

The first step in creating a behavior support plan is a functional behavior assessment. 

 

A functional behavior assessment (FBA) is a process of identifying the behavior that interferes with a child’s ability to learn. It is typically used when habitual school interventions are not effective in controlling the behavior. The FBA is based on the belief that problematic behavior serves a specific purpose. An FBA attempts to look beyond labeling an unwanted behavior as simply being bad and determine what functions that behavior may be serving. 

 

The main reason for conducting a functional behavior assessment is to understand the relationship between the inappropriate behavior and the environment in order to determine what is causing the challenge. Understanding why a child behaves in a certain way is the starting point for developing suitable strategies for improvement.

 

An FBA results in a theory about the functions that the behavior serves and a targeted intervention plan—a behavior support plan—for an alternative behavior that will not interfere with the child’s education. The plan focuses on positive outcomes that can help build a better relationship between the child, the teacher, and the family.

 

A functional behavior assessment can be conducted by a licensed behavioral specialist, a school psychologist, or a teacher. The school counselor and other staff who work with the child may also be involved in the process. Finally, as a parent, you will have a crucial role in advocating for a fair FBA for your child and creating a behavior support plan.

 

Keep reading to learn more about building a behavior support team. 

Building a Behavior Support Team

A behavior plan is not written by only one person or an expert. To be effective, the plan needs to be developed by a team of individuals who work together to find strategies that will help replace negative behavior with a positive one. This cooperation will allow the team members to focus on the task, establish accountability for completing the plan, and ensure communication and consistent implementation of the interventions. 

 

The behavior support team can include anyone who is involved in the child’s life. In addition to the child’s parents and educators, it may also involve family members, friends, therapists, and other instructional or administrative personnel. Team members will collaborate in different ways to develop and implement a suitable behavior support plan.

A collaborative approach is one of the key features of positive behavior support for children with problem behaviors and their families. It is particularly important for children whose challenging behaviors occur in multiple settings, for example, at home, at school, during therapy visits, and so on.

Parents’ role in developing and implementing a BSP

As a parent, you should be involved in each step of developing a behavior support plan for your child. In order for the plan to be effective, it is necessary to monitor the child’s behavior not only at school but also at home. At the same time, the school should keep you updated on your child’s progress and provide you with the necessary tools to reinforce the BSP at home.

Person-Centered Planning

An essential part of ensuring an effective behavior support process is to set up a person-centered plan. As mentioned above, the plan is written by a team consisting of family, teachers, caregivers, and other community members who are brought together to discuss their goals for the child. It is crucial that the team’s planning process is focused on the child’s behavior goals.

 

Besides, the child should be involved in the planning process as much as possible. He or she may be able to offer their own views on the problem and suggest what can be done to solve it. This process not only helps the child to feel included, but it is also a good way to make sure the strategies developed are specific to their needs.

Another crucial success factor of a behavior support plan is appropriate monitoring. Here’s why. 

Monitoring Behavior Support Plans

A behavior support plan is an active document that needs to be consulted and reviewed on a regular basis in order to be effective. Monitoring a BSP is a twofold process that includes: 

  • Monitoring changes in problem behavior, and
  • Monitoring the achievement of new skills and lifestyle outcomes.

The key to successful monitoring is frequent collection of data that describes when, where, and who implements the plan but also to how the plan is being implemented and whether or not the same intervention steps are followed each time. Direct and indirect measurements, such as rating scales and check sheets, should be done in order to:

  • Document whether the plan is implemented with consistency
  • Whether the plan is effective in achieving the identified goals
  • Whether the replacement skills are maintained over time, and
  • Whether the new skills can be applied in a variety of contexts or settings. 

The behavior support team should periodically review the collected data to ensure good communication, make any adjustments if needed, as well as to review progress in the context of the long-term vision for the child’s development.

Data collection for the purpose of monitoring progress is simpler and less extensive than it was in the functional behavior assessment phase. Once the BSP is in place, the data only needs to indicate whether the behavior is staying the same or changing. The team has to track the frequency, duration, and intensity of the behavior. In addition to collecting the data regularly, it is necessary to analyze the information and verify whether there is any improvement in the child’s behavior.

In the next section, we provide useful tips for writing and implementing behavior support plans.

Tips for Behavior Support Plans

Replacing a challenging behavior

 

  • When your child displays unwanted behavior, you should always first rule out health issues such as acute illness, pain, or discomfort before proceeding with functional behavior assessment and creating a behavior support plan.
  • Keep in mind that all challenging behaviors serve a specific purpose, function, or fulfill unmet needs.
  • The meaning and purpose of behavior may sometimes be difficult to determine. In some cases, it will take lots of time and patience before the team can gain a good understanding of the behavior.
  • The purpose of a behavior support plan is not to show how the child should change his or her behavior, but to outline the steps that will be taken by the members of the team to modify the environment and teach the child new skills. 
  • It is important to address the interfering behavior immediately as it happens so that the child can successfully change the habit.

When a BSP isn’t working

  • Make sure the chosen interventions provide an alternative way to accomplish the function of the problematic behavior. 
  • If the proposed plan is not working and the behavior doesn’t improve, there may have been a misunderstanding of the reason or function behind the targeted behavior. In this case, the implemented strategies won’t be effective. 
  • Some behaviors have been present for a long time and changing them may take a lot of reinforcement and encouragement.
  • If a behavior support plan is not working, the team should document the interventions that are ineffective and look for other alternatives.

Writing an effective BSP

  • Behavior support plans should be kept as simple as possible. Simple plans are easier to implement, evaluate, and are often the most effective.
  • The interventions in the plan should include enough detail so that the team members are able to understand and implement the proposed strategies.
  • It is better to implement just a few carefully selected interventions with confidence than to list many strategies that will not be used consistently.
  • It is better to start slow and gradually build on success than to set unreasonable expectations.
  • Behavior support plans must be person-centered and specific to each child. In other words, each behavior support plan must be unique. What works for one child won’t necessarily work for another.

Reviewing the plan

  • A behavior support plan should be reviewed and updated regularly, approximately every six weeks. As your child grows, his or her behavior will change and it will be necessary to make adjustments to the plan to target new problem behaviors.
  • Decide the review date for a BSP at the time of writing the plan. It can be reviewed sooner if needed, but deadlines will increase the chances of the plan being effective.
  • If there’s new information or if the child needs a change, the plan should be adjusted as needed.
  • If the child changes environments, new information should be gathered to determine if and how the behavior was affected, and whether the team should consider new strategies.
  • Failure to update the BSP on a regular basis, especially when it comes to rewards and reinforcements for appropriate behavior, could cause the child to relapse into unwanted behavior.

Scott Rustulka

Scott, a native of Canada, joined the Hidden Talents team at the onset of 2021, moving his family of 6 from San Diego to the great state of Georgia. He began his journey in behavior analytics in 2001 at a time when autism programs had very little oversight by credentialled clinicians. The onset of that journey was wrought with disappointment in a system that seemed to do very little lasting good for the long-term growth of the individuals within that system.

Over the years, Scott determined to ensure that dignity and respect was afforded to the children he had the privilege of working, while devoting a lot of energy into understanding how the development of a child is the key focus to treatment and not reactive behavior modification. Truly listening to the child and the family and finding ways to make behavior change fun and engaging continues to be his passion. Over the last 20 years, Scott still relishes every opportunity to visit families and have the honor of being a part of their lives.

Maureen O'Brien

Maureen joined the Hidden Talents ABA Team in 2020 and has over 15+ years’ of Office Management and Administrative experience. Maureen is that friendly voice that will most likely greet you when you call into the office with a positive attitude and ready to assist with the screening and the ABA authorization process. Maureen said “the best part of my job is working with a phenomenal team and helping as many families as possible.

Olivia Steele

Olivia’s goal is to act as the bridge between our Registered Behavior Therapists and the families that they serve. She has always gravitated towards opportunities that harbor a personal client connection, with a mission statement to always help others.Olivia is passionate about fitness and wellness, spending the last decade as a part time fitness instructor. She most enjoys yoga and Pilates, disciplines that have both physical and meditative benefits. In her free time, she likes crafting and is an amateur woodworker. She is also a big animal lover; she owns a cat and 13 tarantulas.

Arye Hartal

Arye is a Licenced Behavior Analyst and a former airline pilot. His areas of interest include verbal behavior (VBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Improving the quality of life for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families is of great importance to him. Over the course of his career, he has become highly qualified in implementing many ABA techniques including PRT, FCT, ESDM, DTT and NET.

Arye has experience working in the school, community, and home-based settings. His patience, compassion, and knowledge of ABA contributes greatly to the success of the children that he works with. His interests outside of work include volunteering for I Can Bike (teaching kids with disabilities how to ride a bicycle), traveling, spending time with friends and family, playing hockey, and reading.

Joanna Young

Joanna is a graduate of Ball State University and became a licensed, board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) in 2016. She has worked in this field since 2014 in a variety of settings ranging from in-center, in-home, and currently telehealth. Joanna was introduced to the world of behavior analysis as an undergraduate trying to fulfill her degree requirements, which landed her an internship working as an in-home behavior technician. She quickly realized how effective early intervention ABA therapy was and enjoyed seeing her clients gain new skills as they became more independent.

Joanna particularly loves working with children under 3, especially now that she has her own 6-month-old daughter! She is passionate about ensuring ABA strategies and techniques translate well into the home setting and parents feel empowered to help shape their child's life. Joanna joined the Hidden Talents team in March 2021 as a clinical supervisor and works remotely from Houston, TX.

Elissa Watson

Elissa is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst from Greenville, South Carolina. She has a Masters in Science for Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis and has been working in the field of ABA for 9 years. She has had experience as both an RBT and BCBA in the home, clinical, community, school and telehealth-based environments with a wide range of clients and ages. Elissa, as a part of the Hidden Talents team has broadened her experience to make ABA more accessible to all. When not working, Elissa enjoys spending time with her husband and pets, traveling, and playing music.

Matthew Grennell

Matthew received his Masters of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis in May of 2009 from Florida Institute of Technology. Over the course of his career, Matthew has worked in Florida, Texas and New York, serving both children and adults in both in-home as well as clinic-based settings. The majority of Matthew’s work in Applied Behavior Analysis has been in the in-home setting. Matthew has also consulted with schools and worked as part of multi-disciplinary teams as well as concurrently teaching certification courses for Florida Institute of Technology’s Applied Behavior Analysis program for four years.

Through teaching Matthew was able to not only ensure quality of services provided by himself but also work to ensure that high quality of services could be provided by other Behavior Analysts and service providers. Matthew is very familiar and experienced in working with families to ensure that behavioral progress for every child is maintained in the home through extensive involvement of parents in the process. Matthew has worked primarily with parents and families in all three states he has worked in and has experience with collaborating successfully with all professionals involved in a child’s care.

Matthew believes strongly that a child’s success is best achieved through building skills that maximize success in all areas of their life as a comprehensive approach. Matthew believes that, through this approach, not only does the child benefit directly from improvements in their skill level but the family benefits as well.

Sharifah Christie

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Sharifah moved to America when she was 8 years old. She knew from a young age that she wanted to have a career focused on helping children. In college for her undergraduate program, she studied Speech Pathology at the University of West Georgia. In the later part of the program, she was exposed to the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and decided to make a switch, eventually graduating with a masters in ABA with an emphasis in Autism at Ball State University. Her fascination with the field deepened as she continued to work as a Behavioral Therapist for over two years.

Desiring to develop in other roles and responsibilities within this field, Sharifah is now managing the administrative aspects of the clinical hiring and training at Hidden Talents and enjoying every moment of it! Sharifah has always said that the most favorite part about her career so far has been the privilege of seeing the progress the kiddos have made overtime and making a difference in their lives while creating a fun learning experience for each of them.

Kimberly Culbreth

Kimberly is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst from South Carolina with more than 10+ years in the ABA field. Kimberly completed her undergrad at Clemson University, and she graduated from Capella University with a Masters of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2018. Kimberly is very passionate about working with children with disabilities and helping them succeed. She consistently goes above and beyond for all of her clients.

Kimberly has experience working with children in the home, clinic, community, and telehealth-based settings. She recently started at Hidden Talents to help broaden her experiences with working with children with disabilities. Outside of work Kimberly enjoys spending time with her 3-year-old daughter, traveling, and cooking.

Bisirat Haile

Bisirat Haile is a passionate Board-Certified Behavior Analyst serving her community for over 10 years. Bisirat Has a 10-year track record of working collaboratively with families and RBTs to create lasting change for children with ASD. Bisirat is a telehealth BCBA for Hidden talents. Listening to the priorities of families and earning their trust is extremely important to Bisirat. Bisirat joined the Hidden Talents team as the company shares her commitment to learning and listening to families to provide them support. Bisirat is excited to potentially work with you and provide you support.

Lindsay Campbell

Lindsay Campbell is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Advanced Certified Autism Specialist. She is a future clinical neuropsychologist who is passionate in diagnosing, assessment and creating individualized treatment plans to address each child’s area of need. Lindsay has worked in a variety of settings including forensic, school, home, hospital, and telehealth settings. Lindsay received her dual bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice from California State University, and her Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from National University. After receiving her BCBA, Lindsay went back to complete her Doctorate in Clinical Neuropsychology from California Southern University and will be graduating in 2021 with the highest honors.

Her ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between diagnostic evaluation and treatment with ABA to allow timely access to ABA services. Lindsay believes the most important letters after her name are 'MOM' as she is the mother of an atypical child. She brings a professional and personal perspective to teaching and raising a child with atypical learning skills to build relationships and further support parents. Integrating ABA techniques and evidence-based practices, she believes we can make significant changes to increase skills of children and their family.