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I can really relate to your self analysis of “interfering behaviors.” I am queen of avoiding work, especially on a nice day. I will find everything else there is to be done, except for the thing that I am supposed to be doing. I talked about this in my post, however, I thought of it as “latency,” I was given a task to do, but am taking too long to start the task. I think many of these patterns overlap and it is important for us to keep that in mind when looking at a student’s behavior. We may see many of these patterns occurring, but we need to look at the function and what is most important to decipher how to best teach them.
Part I: Comments Regarding Types of Patterns
Patterns of Quality
Quality is defined as a demonstration of a concept or skill in a way that, while allowing the child to accomplish a desired task, is done in such a way that it may hinder understanding of others, the accuracy of the performance, and/or may get in the way. Examples of quality include, issues around intelligibility, application of too much or not enough force, moving too quickly or too slowly, talking too loudly or softly etc. Patterns of quality don’t automatically suggest a concern; rather, they are an important consideration if they are interfering with interactions, physical health, and/or acquisition of future concepts and skills.
What I understand patterns of quality to be are the results that differ from the norm. These results can be too slow, too fast, too messy, too incorrect, too loud, etc. I think patterns of quality don’t necessarily have to be bad. I think that students can show patterns of excellent quality, standard quality, and below standard quality.
What I don’t understand about the patterns of quality is how they may hinder the understanding of others. Is this talking about a student who is yelling in class may hinder the lesson for other students? Or is it that if another student did it the same way, it would hinder the understanding?
Patterns of Latency
Latency, as it relates to learning or development, is defined as the amount of time it takes for someone to act or “do” after a request or prompt. In other words, how quickly does a child respond? Examples of latency include issues around time to task or verbal responses to questions or prompts, and also include concerns around impulsivity. Patterns of latency may not always be a concern, however they are important to consider if they are negatively impacting learning, development, health, communication, and/or behavior.
What I understand about latency is that it is the amount of time it take someone to respond to a stimulus. This stimulus is often a verbal or visual prompt in the school setting. Latency becomes a concern when a student takes longer than expected to respond to a prompt and therefore needing more reminders. It can also be responding to a prompt on impulsivity. This student needs to learn how to think before they act and slow down.
Patterns of Assistance
Assistance is when an adult, a peer/sibling, or the environment performs part of the concept or skills under consideration. Assistance alone does not warrant concern or a higher tier of instruction (i.e., assistance might be expected based on what is known about developmental expectations); however, when a pattern of needing assistance (e.g., required under predictable circumstances/situations beyond what would be expected of a novice learner, for the child’s age/present level of ability/developmental readiness, culture, and/or prior exposure) emerges, a concern is noted.
What I understand about patterns of assistance is how much help someone needs from another person or environment to complete a task. This is important in an educational setting because we want to increase the independence of our students. I have seen many students who show signs of “learned helplessness.” This is when a student has learned that another person will intervene and help them before they even try. We want to look for patterns of assistance to see where we can teach a student to become more independent.
Patterns of Interfering Behaviors
An interfering behavior is one that a child demonstrates instead of the desired or expected concept of skills. Not all interfering behaviors are aggressive or purposeful; however many times they are (e.g., hitting, biting, throwing). At times, behaviors can interfere given that the child (by choice or otherwise) is not able to maintain or establish attention, walks away from interactions or tasks, or even outright refusal to participate. Sometimes these are unconscious (sensory/biological); so this pattern has less to do with challenging behavior and more to do with a barrier to learning.
What I understand as interfering behaviors are ones that occur that make the desired behavior unachievable. For example, if a child is asked to sit quietly, but is humming to himself, the humming is interfering with him sitting quietly. I think looking for patterns of interfering behaviors is important in school because we can teach to that behavior. We can teach an interfering behavior to the interfering behavior. If the student screams every time a paper is put in front of them, we can teach the child to ask for a break instead. Asking for a break interferes with the screaming.
Patterns of Unexpected Performance
Patterns of unexpected performance represent instances where the child’s performance would not have been anticipated or expected according to typical development. For example, a child was demonstrating a later skill before demonstrating an earlier skill, or was emerging across early and later skills simultaneously. This pattern may also represent situations where children have a tendency to demonstrate inconsistent performance, to the extent that they may excel or struggle on the same skill without a clear explanation for the difference in performance.
What I understand of patterns of unexpected performance is that the student is inconsistent in his performance. Patterns of unexpected performance may show a child performing above what you would expect in a certain area, but be missing some of the basic skills when asked to do them. Another example may be a student who can follow 3-step directions in one setting, but only single step prompts in another. We want to look for the barriers that are getting in the way of the expected performance of the child, so we need to see and look for the patterns of unexpected performance.
Part II: Example of at Least One Pattern
Patterns of Latency
List Patterns of Latency:
-Starting an assignment after a delayed amount of time that was planned
-cleaning the house instead of starting an assignment
-writing lesson plans instead of working on finalizing an IEP
-Finding a colleague to collaborate with (talk to/waste time) instead of analyzing data
Pattern Considerations: What do the identified patterns mean? What does it tell you about yourself? What are the implications?
I think that these patterns that I listed mean that I have a severe case of procrastination. I know that I like to complete tasks, but it takes me a while to get them started. I like to think about my tasks before starting them and then complete them in one sitting. I sometimes get anxiety when I don’t know what is exactly expected of me in a task or I think it is overwhelming, so I put it off until there is pressure to get it done. The implications that I have learned about myself is that I need to make lists and check things off my list. If I have a mental list, I will procrastinate and dawdle. If I have a physically written list, I am more likely to sit down and check items off the list. Another implication is scheduling when I will get the tasks done. I will also schedule in breaks or allow myself a break after completing each task.
I like your definition of the “messy middle.” It can be so challenging to know how to help students who are struggling. I like how you said that we should focus on the specific needs and areas and keep in mind where we want them to go, or the desired outcome. It can feel like we are bushwhacking our way to find that answer, but I think that if we keep in the end in sight, we can try different approaches to help the student be successful and reach the target.
Are all Tier 3 needs IEP worthy?
I don’t think all Tier 3 needs are IEP worthy. I like thinking about the child as a triangle and how moving between the Tiers is a fluid thing. I think there could be times in a child’s life where he is struggling and needs Tier 3 support in a certain area, I don’t’ think that this necessarily means that he has a disability and needs an IEP. This is especially true if he responds to the intervention and no longer needs that amount of support. I do think that students who have IEP’s often need Tier 3 support in certain areas to allow them access and participation and meet their needs in specific areas.
How would you define “the messy middle”?
I would define the “messy middle” as a student who has an area of struggle. This student is falling behind in a certain aspect and the teacher has tried many interventions, but isn’t seeing growth. I think the messy middle is when we need to collaborate with our peers and really dive into the questions about why the child has stalled. We can help think of solutions, interventions, supports, and ways to collect data on this student to see if they are working or not.
Can a Tier 2 (targeted) need be IEP worthy?
I do think that Tier 2 can be IEP worthy, but I think that the child must have other needs to make it an area that is IEP worthy. I think that if a student only has one area of struggle and they fall in Tier 2 for that particular area, it would not necessarily be IEP worthy. I think that a student who has an IEP could receive instruction in a general education class with Tier 2 needs and have specific accommodations and modifications to her curriculum so that she can access the material.
In what way can a child who is eligible for special education have Tier 1 needs?
I think that all children have Tier 1 needs, but our students who are eligible for special education also need the layers of Tier 2 and 3 needs. I think that each student has different needs in certain areas and each student is a triangle with strengths and struggles within that triangle.
I really like what you said in your second paragraph about helping struggling students and I absolutely agree. I think that collaboration is so very important for helping kids who are struggling. When we collaborate and have solid data to work with, we can create an atmosphere for struggling students to get the support they need. I think that a strong UDL instruction reaches many students in the classroom in a meaningful, person-centered way.
Are there supports or resources in place that would allow a child who struggles but does not qualify to receive high quality instruction to meet their unique needs?
In my school, we have many resources for students who struggle, but currently they are more strong in certain subject areas than others. We have on going data for reading that shows progress students are making school-wide. We have reading interventionists that provide high quality instruction for students who are falling behind, but do not qualify for special education. We are currently piloting a social emotional curriculum that would help all students, including those who have struggles to learn about their social emotional needs. An area in which we are lacking is in math.
What steps could you take to ensure this child receives what they need, even if they do not get an IEP?
I think that collaboration is key to helping all students regardless if they have an IEP or not. We can share what we know about certain interventions and communicate with our colleagues. My school is starting to implement a new problem solving process and we recently gathered a list of resources that we have as a school that can ensure that all children are receiving what they need.
Does district/agency policy allow you to work with general education teachers to help kids who are not on your caseload?
Yes, I have had several students who are not on IEP’s join my small reading group over the years. I have also lead a math intervention group that included students who none of which had IEP’s. I also am approached by general education teachers who have students that require more intervention, they ask for ideas and I can share my resources with them. Our school also encourages teachers to observe each other and/or students to help with ideas to help kids and provide high quality instruction.
Describe how you usually address this situation, and what you would do in an ideal world (with needed supports or resources).
As I said before, collaboration is key in helping kids in general. To address this situation, I would ask what has be done in the past and what is going on in that child’s life? In an ideal world, a group of teachers could get together and look at data from all areas and talk with the family to see what is going on at home. There would be a bank of supports and resources to choose from and they could be tried out to see if that helps the student. In an ideal world that is.
Talk about when, where, and under what context you have observed any of the seven (7) learning progressions, as well as what you would do in the future to address them.
The first example that I thought of when looking at the 7 learning progressions is a student that I had that hated pencil and paper work. He would rip up any paper that was put in front of him or escalate to the point of destroying the room. To him, “work” in the traditional sense was very unpreferred to him. He did, however, love playing games and hearing stories. I learned very quickly to present “work” to him in the format of game play or a story that he was interested in. It took several years to get to the point of presenting a worksheet to him. In the future, I will keep all 7 learning progressions in mind and try the zig-zag process to make learning more accessible to specific students and address their needs in an appropriate way.
I really like what you said,
“To determine the child’s “perspective” takes observation of the child and listening to the parents describe their child’s behavior. Knowing what a child’s preferences, likes, and dislikes are, can provide that foundational information that will help a teacher in planning for the child and embedding learning opportunities into their day that are meaningful and genuine.”
I think that the younger the student is, the more we must advocate for them to know “what matters.” I think that when we have an older student, they should give their input at an IEP and that should be the spring board for all other decisions that are made. It is important to look at the child’s preferences, likes, and dislikes to create those meaningful and genuine learning opportunities.
When I think about a PLAAFP, I think about a detailed picture painted with words about a child. It tells about the child’s strengths, both as an individual and academically. It tells what the family sees. It tells the struggles that the child may have and how they fit compared to their peers. A families priorities should really drive the conversation of the IEP. That being said, the team should bring forward all they can to create a comprehensive picture of the child. The family is going to have the most knowledge and input about their child. We take what we know in the PLAAFP and think about what the child needs, we want them to grow in the right direction and this is based on the input from the entire team. I think the child’s perspective varies depending on the age of the child. A younger child may have more decisions made “about” them, but the team needs to be mindful that they are advocating for the benefit of the child and what will matter to them.
The ABC formula helps us decide what really matters in terms of writing a meaningful IEP. First we think about the antecedent, or the context in which the child experiences life. I currently work with students who have high needs, so their context is within the school setting, but often focused on behavior, social skills, and functional academics. We also want to make sure that what we teach them is transfering to other areas of their lives to focus on needs that connect to many or most contexts. Next we look at behavior. This is seen in the PLAAFP and is in that detailed picture that the team paints. It is the driving factor for “what matters”. It can help us answer the question of “what are our priorities?” Last is the criteria which helps us think about the change over time. We want to think about where we want the child to get and why it matters for the child to get there. Essentially, if we ask “what matters” within every decision, we will create a meaningful IEP.
I really like your goals for accuracy and duration. I feel that naming peers and teachers is a really essential life skill for students in friendship naming and safety. It is important for John to be able to say his teacher’s names accurately (and other adults in his life) and name his peers.
I also like your duration goal because it focuses on John’s participation with his peers. This helps him learn to be cooperative which leads to friendship making. It also helps him be included with his class. The longer he can participate in this, the more independent and more access to what his peers are learning.
Frequency-Initiate to use bathroom throughout the day. I would use frequency data to measure this. Every time the student initiates that he has to go to the bathroom, I could easily mark the time and see how many time he goes without having an accident. I think frequency would best measure this skill because I don’t need to know how accurately he uses the bathroom or how long it takes him to go to the bathroom after he asks. I just want to know how often he independently initiates to use the bathroom.
Accuracy-Correctly match objects to a number. I would use accuracy for this goal because there is a correct answer. If there are 4 objects, the only correct answer is selecting the number 4. I want to know how many times my student can count objects and select the correct number. I don’t need to know how frequently she dos this or how long she can do this task.
Latency-Will begin task within 2 minutes. Latency is the best way to measure this skill. I use this goal for students that often sit and wait to be helped or prompted without trying a task. I want the student to work on beginning tasks on her own and more quickly than she currently is. This is the best way to measure because I don’t need to know the intensity in which she is delaying the task or her insurance. I just need to know how long it takes her to begin a task.
Duration-Will work on task for 5 minutes without break. I would use duration for this skill because i want to increase the amount of time my student will work on a task. I can measure how long the student works on each task given. I don’t need to know the frequency of tasks or accuracy, just how long he works on the task.
Endurance-Participate in 5 conversational turns. Endurance would support a conversational turn goal because my student is practicing repeating the same behavior for 5 conversational turns. I want to increase how many conversational turns the student is taking and therefore his endurance for conversations. I don’t need to know how long it takes or how accurate he is in his conversations.
Intensity-Will calmly ask for a break. Intensity would be measured for this goal by marking what type of behaviors happen when the student asks for a break. The student could currently be screaming, ripping papers, or tipping chairs to show that she needs a break. Calmly could be measured by the student showing that she needs a break by pointing to a break picture or saying “I need a break, please.” I don’t want to know how frequently she is taking a break or even how long, I am trying to teach her to calmly ask for a break, therefore intensity is the best way to measure this behavior.
Independence-Transition with 3 or fewer prompts. I want to measure how independent a student can be at transitioning by recording how many prompts from adults it takes for the student to transition. The fewer the prompts, the more independent my student will be. I am not looking for how long it takes her to transition or the accuracy of her transition, I just want a goal that shows that she is becoming more independent at transitions.
I like both of your examples of quantitative and qualitative data. Your qualitative data is based on a group circle and you are looking for a certain behavior, it sounds like the circle time is a variable length, so you chose to have “most of” be your factor. For your quantitative data, you can measure how correct Joy is in answering questions.
Qualitatively-One example that I have been using qualitative data for recently is having a student come in each morning and use the bathroom and brush her teeth. Using qualitative data is the best approach for this because it is something that needs to happen every morning. It is not something based on the number of times she does it, it is purely just a thing that needs to be done every morning and it only happens once a day during that particular time.
Quantitatively-An example of of a quantitative behavior goal that I have for a student is for him to work on a task for 5 consecutive minutes. He currently works in about 2 minute periods and then needs a break. I would like to measure quantitative data for this goal because I am wanting to increase his stamina for minutes of work. I can only know if he is making progress by timing how long he works for a consecutive amount of time.
I felt very similarly about our school, a teacher had a concern about a kid and had tried a few things, but there was still a concern, so the kid got referred. The whole school saw major problems with this system and we got a team together to figure out a better system. We now have a problem solving procedure for when a child is struggling in general education. There are many interventions to try with the child and collect data before the child is referred for special education. It is a much more team-oriented approach than before. In the past it was just the teacher trying what she had in her tool belt and then the students went through testing. Now, the process is based heavily on intervention, data, and problem solving.
It is ironic that I happened watched the DDDM lesson the day after an inservice at my school that we learned about the new intervention and referral process. In the past, the referral process was very foggy to me and all parties included. Kids would be nominated by the teacher as having struggles and a team would talk about the kid. If there was enough of a need, they would be referred for Special Education and go through testing. I enter the picture when I am told that I have a new referral and I will be contacting parents, getting the meeting together, and making sure the assessments are completed. The biggest struggles that our team had in the past is enough documentation about how the child compares to other students and what has been done as an intervention with the child.
Our new problem solving procedure is far more involved and aligned with the DDDM process. The first steps are to gather information about the student and what interventions have been done in the past, talk with team members and previous teachers. The next step is to brainstorm tier 2 interventions to try with the student and document progress. If there s still a need, the information is summarized and the child is discussed and analyzed with the team and parents. The results are interpreted to determine if the child qualifies as a referral for special education.
I definitely agree that transitions are very difficult for Spencer. I didn’t think to ask about what his day looks like when he stays home from school. If he gets to stay home and play mine-craft, there is more of a “want” reason behind the escalations. Either way, I agree that a meeting needs to be held and his day analyzed to figure out how to support Spencer and his mother in the beginning of the day transition and alleviating the stress that school brings.