Tommy is a 10 year-old boy who enjoys baseball, swimming, and baking. He does not like art activities or large crowds. Tommy has a good sense of humor but he can be irritable. He is fearful around new people and may become quiet and more reserved in those situations. His parents and teachers talk him through exposure to new people. Tommy is highly verbal and speaks in sentences. Tommy is above grade level in reading. He enjoys reading, and his favorite book is the Percy Jackson Lightning Thief. According to Tommy, he dislikes writing. Most of his writing is simple sentences with a great deal of grammatical errors and little detail. He also struggles with math, in which he is approximately 2 grade levels below. He has recently learned how to pitch left-handed. Tommy has a medical diagnosis of Autism, Childhood-onset bipolar disorder and an educational classification of severe emotional and behavioral disorder. He takes medication for bipolar disorder on a daily basis. He is currently on a new medication. Tommy has a new baby brother who is 5 months old.
Tommy has been increasingly disruptive the past few months. He has verbal outbursts and pushes classroom materials onto the floor after being given an academic task during quiet work time. His verbal outbursts include yelling that he is not doing the assignment, telling a student to shut up, using profanity, and calling student’s names. His teachers do feel that they spend about an hour per day dealing with the behavior, and they usually respond to Tommy’s behavior by scolding him or by initiating an office referral.
School Classroom Environment
Tommy attends a regular K-5 public elementary school. Tommy is new to the school. Tommy is in the 5th grade. There are 19 students in his homeroom classroom. Tommy has 2 segments in a resource SPED class with 5 other students. Tommy also has 1 co-teaching segment for math. His teacher is very organized and structured. She is loving and understanding with regards to Tommy’s needs.
Tommy has attended your school for two months now. Initially, he seemed to acclimate to the the new school well. However, things have gotten more difficult for him lately. Tommy’s teacher set up some rewards for him to earn if he does not engage in the disruptive behavior. His behavior has not improved and it has been difficult for his team to identify “why” he is engaging in the behavior. There is not consensus among his team that the rewards are the appropriate intervention for his disruptive behavior. His team agreed that they should conduct an Functional Behavior Assessment and develop a Behavior Intervention Plan.
We know that Applied Behavior Analysis is the standard treatment for helping children on the spectrum with treating challenging behaviors and replacing challenging behaviors with functionally equivalent replacement behaviors. Given the case example above please develop a 2 to 4-page paper that addresses/reflects on the following items:
1. Discuss some possible antecedents that might be valuable to evaluate in Tommy’s case (sleep issues, medications, social connections, academic tasks, anything other you might wish to know). Discuss what you would like to know and how you might go about acquiring this information (interviews, direct observation notes, phone calls to parents and caregivers). 50 points
2. Discuss the specific target behaviors in the case study and discuss how any of the target behaviors might be associated with an Autism diagnosis (for example is yelling associated with a communication deficit or a social interaction deficit? How might profanity, non-compliance or name-calling of others be associated with one of the core deficits?) 50 points
3. Discuss why any one of the behaviors mentioned in the case study might be occurring. What purpose might the behavior be serving Tommy? Does it get him attention from others? Does it get him to escape from something he wants to avoid? Does it occupy his time simply because he is bored and has nothing else to do? Explore the possibility of why the behavior might be occurring. 50 points
4. Given the limits of this case study information, briefly discuss what might be helpful for teachers or parents to do to help reduce the target behavior and replace that behavior with a response more socially appropriate for Tommy to practice. (For example, if Tommy is calling a peer names to get their attention we will want to teach some other more appropriate interaction so he can get the peers’ attention). Discuss what you might want to do and how you might go about teaching it in a school setting. 50 points
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