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Addressing Behavior Issues With an IEP

For Schools

, By Jenny Barker


anger management worksheetIndividualized Education Programs (IEPs) are used to address educational needs for students with disabilities.  Educational needs can be academic or social, as both classroom and non-classroom behavior have a large effect on academic performance.

In the Blog Talk Radio show “Your Special Education Rights with Jen and Julie,” special education advocate and parent Julie Swanson and special education lawyer Jennifer Laviano talk about common special education issues that both districts and parents face. This particular show covers the importance of using an IEP to address academic and behavior concerns for students with special needs.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specifically addresses academic, functional and adaptive skills. The functional and adaptive skills a child is struggling with can be based in either the social and communication realm, or in emotional and social well-being. If a student is exhibiting a behavioral issue at school, community or home, this may be an issue that can be addressed with a behavior intervention plan under an IEP.

Many behaviors can be addressed with a behavior intervention plan, but Swanson and Laviano focused on three categories:

  • behavior that leads to self-injury
  • task avoidance or attention seeking behaviors that lead to a serious and obvious dip in academic performance
  • maladaptive (or socially inappropriate) behavior

According to Swanson and Laviano, the first step is to perform a functional behavior assessment (FBA). This evaluation, usually conducted by a school psychologist, consists of interviews with parents and teachers, as well as direct observation of the student. The psychologist may also interview the student. The FBA first determines whether a student’s action is truly a behavior of concern, and then identifies the function of this behavior so that the team of educators can work together to alter or stop the behavior with a behavior intervention plan.

Performing FBAs and following through on behavior intervention plans, however, do take time — a scarce resource for many districts, especially those where one counselor serves multiple schools. Online counseling services like those provided by PresenceLearning can help cover gaps and stretch resources in such cases. For more information about online counseling, click here.

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