Behavior Intervention Plan at School: What is it and how to get one for your child
People often ask me if it's possible to can get a 504 Plan or IEP for a child's behavioral problems. The answer is yes, and no. It really depends on the entire situation. If your child is on a 504, IEP or no plan at all, you can still pursue a BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan). The goal is to help your child behave better at school when their behaviors impede their learning or the learning of others.
BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN:
So what is a BIP? A Behavior Intervention Plan is used to address undesired behaviors. It is an individualized plan specific to the child. It focuses on teaching a child how to replace undesired behaviors with more appropriate behaviors. Ultimately the goal is to address misbehaviors to improve educational experiences and decrease disruptions in the classroom.
For children without a disability diagnosis and with severe behavioral issues, the school may implement a BIP. In this situation the behaviors are usually quite disruptive and often involve suspensions for the student's actions. When this occurs, the school often initiates a BIP on their own. They attempt to extinguish the situation before it escalates further or involves more severe discipline.
If your child is on a 504 Plan or IEP, you should become familiar with the BIP. There are many potential benefits for a child with behavioral challenges.
How many times have you heard "your child won't focus", "he makes noises and distracts the other students" or "she won't stay in her seat"? As a parent of an ADHD child the response in my head was always "thank you for giving me the definition of ADHD, so how are you going to help him?" I wanted to scream every time a teacher said those words!
So what's a parent to do? This is where the BIP comes in!
WHAT ARE THE REQUIRMENTS TO GET A BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN?
Let's take a look at what the Federal Regulations say about Behavior Intervention Plans. It states:
"if a child's behavior impedes the child's learning or that of others, consider the use of PBIS and other strategies to address the behaviors"
So you are wondering what PBIS is, right? It is Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. This is an evidence based proactive approach used to help children learn better behavioral skills. You can learn a little more about PBIS here. The PBIS strategies are incorporated into the Behavior Intervention Plan. A focus is placed on positive reinforcements for good behaviors, instead of repeated punishment for poor behaviors. Over time, the frequency of poor behaviors should diminish if the plan is developed properly.
HOW DO I GET A BIP FOR MY CHILD?
Now that you know what a BIP is, you can request one when behavior becomes an issue. Always make any request to the school in writing. Be specific and clear about what you are requesting and why you are requesting it.
When a BIP is considered, there is a process that is usually followed. First there is an assessment to get more information. Usually a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is performed. This involves interviewing the child, gathering information from teachers, observing the student in class and performing some testing. This identifies the problematic behavior and any factors contributing to it. Data is also collected, including how often and when the undesired behavior occurs. Understanding triggers or potential causes of the actions is important in developing an effective plan. Once information is collected, the team makes it's best determination for the cause of the behavior. Then they present their recommendations and interventions based on PBIS.
WHAT'S IN A BIP?
There are three parts to a BIP
- Undesired behavior
- Cause of the behavior
- Strategies being implemented will correct the behavior
EXAMPLE OF A BIP:
Let's assume your 2nd grader is saying funny things and acting silly during class. The behavior does not allow him to learn and it is disruptive to other students. When the FBA is performed the team comes up with the conclusion that your child is doing these behaviors to try to be funny and get attention from other students. He wants to be liked and have friends. So the behavior is the funny jokes and silliness and the cause of the behavior is to be accepted and have friends.
The strategies implemented may be something like if you make silly comments less than 20 times (a goal will be developed based on the data collected from the FBA) in a day you will get a reward of 10 minutes of computer time at the end of the day (this was an incentive identified for the student).
The teacher will then track how many times she needs to redirect this behavior in a day and determine if the child reached his daily goal. If the goal was reached, the positive reward is given. Once he starts reaching the daily goal, the goal is changed. Instead of 20 times a day it may be reduced to 15 times a day. Slowly over time the goal keeps changing until the behavior diminishes. If the strategy does not work over time, it should be adjusted and a new strategy should be implemented.
Another component of the BIP may include a social skills class. This teaches your child the appropriate way to make friends and better understand social situations.
ONCE A BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN IS IN PLACE:
If the school agrees to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan for your child, make sure to get regular updates and reports on your child's progress. If the plan is not monitored and evaluated often it may not be effective. It may take a few tries before the team finds the right strategies that work for your child, so communication is key. The BIP is a working document. If your child is not progressing, changes need to be made. If progress is being made then strategies may need to shift to align with the improvements made. The BIP changes over time as the behaviors change.
WRAPPING IT UP:
So if you keep hearing over and over again that your child is disruptive in class or not paying attention, why not talk to your school staff about exploring a BIP? It beneficial approach to improving behavior in school in a positive way that will allow your child to grow and thrive!
Have you pursued a Behavior Intervention Plan for your child?
If so, did it work? It worked for my son!