Bye - Bye Bad Behavior.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst Erin Tracy started her website, Behavior in Balance to provide easily attainable tools and resources for parents and caregivers of children on the spectrum. Aside from her blog, her website also features free training courses and professional resources for both parents and practitioners. On her blog, she posted an article that she titled, "How To Decrease Challenging Behavior." Within the first section of the writing, she explains that while it would be wonderful for there to be one quick fix or a magic tool that clears all bad behavior, there is not. What works best for correcting bad behavior is actually a compilation of strategies that are derived from the principles of the Applied Behavior Analysis. These strategies will help tackle behaviors like, kicking, screaming, crying, hitting, head banging, and any other expression that falls under the category of "challenging" behavior. The first step to changing a behavior is by understanding its function. Tracy says, "Once we know a behavior's function, we can utilize strategies to decrease that challenging behavior, while supporting a child in getting his or her needs met." The four functions of behavior are: access, attention, escape and avoidance, and automatic. You determine these functions by what surrounds the behavior (what comes before and after). Once you have discovered the function of the behavior there are three different ways you can change it. Using one alone will not do the trick. You need to use these strategies one after the other to ensure that you will actually create a change. First, you will want to use prevention strategies to avoid the challenging behavior altogether. Next, you will want to find a replacement behavior that communicates to your child that they can get their needs met in a more appropriate way. Lastly, you will need to try implementing consequence strategies. These strategies are based on the concept of extinction, which is the idea that you no longer provide whatever consequence was originally maintaining or reinforcing a certain behavior. For example, if you don't want your child screaming to gain access to toy, then stop giving the toy to them in response to the screaming. Situations like this can be difficult because the sound of a child screaming or crying can be extremely trying and exhausting to listen to, but that is why extinction is so important. Eventually, your child will learn to stop responding in that way because they have adapted to the new techniques that you are implementing in order to correct their bad behavior. This process may be challenging at first, but if you stick with it and remain committed to your end goal, you will create a better environment at home and your child will ultimately be happier when their needs are met.