Behavior Solutions: Difficulty With Starting Assignments

Behavior Solutions: Difficulty With Starting Assignments

Excerpted with permission from Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom by Beth Aune, OTR/L, Beth Burt & Peter Gennaro

Behavior Solutions is an excellent easy to read book that presents four behavioral sections along with comprehensive appendices. I highly recommend this book as a resource for all teachers for quick and easy solutions to implement for problematic behaviors. Also, a fantastic resource for the advocating or homeschooling parent!

This the final post wherein OJTA is featuring one problem with one solution from three of the four sections contained within the book.

This week, pulled from the section entitled, Difficulty With Routine and Academics, we are presenting the following problem behavior:

Difficulty with Starting Assignments

Instead of doing classwork that was assigned to him, the student may be reading a book.  This may happen 5 times a day or more.  Why?  Students with learning disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorders usually have difficulties problem- solving, abstract and conceptual thinking, and organization.  These students are capable of doing the work, but may need a little more guidance from the teacher. 


Reduce the number of choices so the student has fewer options to weigh.  For instance, if the assignment is to write about “What I Did Last Summer,” consider changing it for this student to something more specific, such as “Explain what is was like getting swimming lessons last summer.”  Of course, this assumes that you have some background information about the student, and such background information is a must.  Working closely with the family and case manager can help in this area. 

More solutions to this problem found in section three of Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom.

We asked Author, Beth Aune, OTR/L…

What would you suggest to homeschooling parents who are seeking to develop a positive behavioral support plan in the home?

One of the first discussions I have with parents who homeschool their child with ASD is to help them differentiate their two very important roles: one is a parent, and the other is a teacher. The child also has two separate roles: one is a son/daughter/sibling, and the other is a student. So, when a positive behavior support plan is designed, the targeted behavior should directly relate to the child’s role as a student (e.g. completing a non-preferred/challenging task such as editing), and the reinforcer should be a highly preferred activity or tangible reward that is NOT one that is offered for other familial expectations (e.g. keeping one’s room clean or doing the dishes).

When the plan is designed, it is most helpful to have the student actively participate by working with the parent/teacher to identify the targeted behavior, the reinforcer, and the expectations to earn the reinforcer. Children are more likely to participate in a BSP when they feel some “ownership.” It is also helpful to write a “contract” between the teacher and the student that shows mutual agreement to utilize the behavior support plan. This helps decrease the natural negotiating that children exhibit more frequently with their parent teacher as compared to students in a public school setting.

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