Knowing the ABC’s of Behavior Can Benefit Your Child in Special Education

Does your child with autism or another disability have difficulty with their behavior at school? Are you trying to figure out why your child is misbehaving at school? This article will introduce you to the ABC’s of behavior. It is the first place to start, in trying to figure out why your child has behavioral difficulty.

The process for figuring out what the behavior is and what to do about it involves 6 steps:
Step 1. Determination of what the behavior is.
Step 2. Finding out what the ABC’s of behavior are.
Step 3. Conducting a appropriately performed functional behavioral assessment (FBA), to determine what function the behavior has for your child.
Step 4. Consider the use of Positive Behavioral supports.
Step 5. Use the hypothesis from the FBA to develop a positive behavior plan.
Step 6: Reviewing the positive behavioral plan to see if it is working, and change if necessary.

This article will discuss step one and step two; determining what the behavior is and finding out what the ABC’s of behavior are.

Before step three can be done, you and special education personnel must understand what the behavior is that your child is having. The behaviors need to be defined in concrete terms that are simple to measure, and should be included in your child’s individual educational plan (IEP).

For Example: Mary hits children while at recess, when she does not get her own way. Johnny makes animal sounds in class when his teacher is paying attention to other students.

The ABC’s of behavior are;
A. Stands for antecedent: Which is what is occurring in the environment before the behavior happens?
B. Stands for behavior: Specifically what the behavior is
C. Stands for Consequences of the behavior: What happens in the environment or to the child because of the behavior.

In the above examples the ABC’s for Mary and Johnny are listed below:

A. Mary is at recess, playing with other children
B. Mary hits other children when she does not get her own way. If another child picks the game, if she wants a ball that is being used by another child etc.
C. The children usually give in to her and give her what she wants. If the teacher sees it she has to sit down for the rest of recess.

A. Johnny’s class is doing individual work, and Johnny’s teacher is helping another child.
B. Johnny starts making animal sounds.
C. Johnny’s teacher comes over to him

If your child is having negative behavior at school, ask special education personnel to track the behavior for several days or a week, using the ABC’s of behavior. This will help you and school personnel be prepared for the next step which is conducting a functional behavioral assessment, to determine what your child is receiving from the behavior.

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