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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Understanding the reasons behind difficult behaviour

I am currently in the middle of marking the assignments of my Dip Ed and B Ed students. The assignment is about researching different types of disabilities and describing how these disabilities effect the social/behavioural, communication, cognitive, sensory, physical and literacy/numeracy development of children.

As I was reading through these assignments I came across a really good summary of the key functions of behaviour displayed by children with Autism. I spoke to Nicole, who agreed that I could share her summary with you....

By Nicole Ribera

There are four primary functions of behaviour, as identified by Helfin & Alamio (2007):

1. To get something (attention/access)

Behaviours occur so the individual can obtain something that is desired. Sometimes it is attention and sometimes is access to an object, food or activity.

2. To avoid (escape) something

Behaviour occurs to allow the individual to escape something that is undesirable. Individuals may want to avoid work that is perceived as too hard, too boring or uninteresting.

Behaviours can also communicate information about the interaction between an individual and their environment. Individuals may communicate through their behaviour that others are too close to them or that they want to be around (or want to avoid) particular people.

Students may become aggressive toward their peers so that they can be sent to the office and avoid an unwanted activity. Students may engage in behaviours so they can escape being the centre of attention or having peers close to them.

3. Sensory-based responses

Behaviour occurs to get pleasurable feedback. Individuals may participate in an activity, movement or behaviour because of the sensory stimulation or feeling that it gives them. An example may be a child may rock, flap or suck their thumb for the sensory pleasure that is received from the action. These behaviours help to reduce anxiety, stress and pressure sometimes felt by individuals.

4. Pain attenuation

Behaviour may occur so that a pain does not hurt as much. For individuals with ASD, their behaviour may indicates pain or discomfort. An individual with a toothache, for example, may hit their jaw. Or if a student has a headache, they may hit their head on the desk.

Helfin, L.J & Fiorino Alaimo, D. (2007). Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Effective Instructional Practices. Pearson Education: New Jersey USA


Kit's page September 4, 2009 at 7:03 PM  

Hi Amanda - I thought I'd get in early with a question for you - I am exploring the idea of adapting a PECS system to help Hannah cope in an inclusive classroom. Can you suggest some ways to introduce her to this, also how would it work in a classroom? ( Is it really that easy for a teacher to and child to use? it is the one I am considering because my experience is that teachers rarely ahve the time to learn signing and then use it consistently) Also - what should I include in it eg are there categories that are commonly going to be useful in kindy? Anecdotally I have heard parents say that using this system has helped their children increase utterance length due to the sentence strip. I have access to the 2008 pecs cd - if I find it is working I will probably consider buying an updated version - next year. Thanks a lot. Shelley of Mainstream Musings(using Kit's private blog address cos I am not very technologically able - sorry!

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