Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Defiant Teenagers with Chronic In-School Suspensions

Recently my husband and I started your program. We started the program because of the problem of constant In School Suspension for my 13 yr old son. He is defiant. His last time in ISS was because of chewing gum in Music class. He was told to spit it out and then was later seen with gum again. He spent 3 days in ISS. Yesterday he somehow exploded his milk at lunch and wet himself and his food. This resulted in him loosing lunch, it was not replaced at school, and the school gave him one week in the back of the lunchroom by himself. 2-3 hours later my husband was able to take him dry clothes. I try very hard to support the school in order to show my son my support for their decisions. However, I find some of the consequences from the school as excessive. Am I wrong and just being over protective? What sort of punishment should I do at home for his trouble in school? The school is threatening to send him to a behavior school that even they think may do more harm than good. He was in 1/2 day ISS today for arguing with his teacher about a complete sentence. What can I do? ~ J.


Hi J.,

Re: Am I wrong and just being over protective?

Over protective? Perhaps.

Wrong? Probably not.

Unfortunately, once a kid gets labeled a “problem child” (which I’m sure has happened to your son), things tend to take an ugly turn for the worse. Teachers (even though they will deny this) tend to view the “problem child” differently after he has “rocked the boat” excessively.

Let’s be totally honest here. Your son is a pain in their rear end – and they really would prefer that he attend school elsewhere. And if your son does leave that school, many will breath a sigh of relief.

Is this fair? No.

Is it right? Of course not.

Can you blame them? Not really.

They simply do not know how to teach an intense, strong-willed child. They are using traditional teaching methods with a “non-traditional” student.

Re: What sort of punishment should I do at home for his trouble in school?

If he’s receiving a consequence at school, you really shouldn’t issue another one at home. I’m sure your son is frustrated enough with how things are going.

Re: What can I do?

If the school is sending home complaints about your son's behavior -- and expecting you to do something about it -- put the ball back in their court by requesting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) (see below). This will force school personnel to really think about your child's behavior, not just react to it.

An FBA examines what comes before bad behavior and what the consequences are for it; what possible function the behavior could serve for the child; and what sorts of things could be setting him or her off.

If a child finds class work too hard or a classroom too oppressive, for example, getting sent to the hallway or ISS could become a reward, not a punishment. Conducting an FBA and writing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) (see below) based on it is probably the best way to head off discipline problems.

If teachers and administrators refuse to go along with it, you might need to do a little behavior analysis on them.

A Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is an attempt to look beyond the obvious interpretation of behavior as "bad" and determine what function it may be serving for a child. Truly understanding why a child behaves the way he or she does is the first, best step to developing strategies to stop the behavior. Schools are required by law to use FBA when dealing with challenging behavior in students with special needs, although you may need to specifically push for it.

The process usually involves documenting the antecedent (what comes before the behavior), behavior, and consequence (what happens after the behavior) over a number of weeks; interviewing teachers, parents, and others who work with the child; evaluating how the child's disability may affect behavior; and manipulating the environment to see if a way can be found to avoid the behavior. This is usually done by a behavioral specialist, and then becomes the basis for a Behavior Intervention Plan.

Examples: A student may act up frequently and be sent to stand in the hallway. However, a FBA may find that the student acts up only during times when a lot of writing is required in class, and that he has documented difficulty with fine motor skills. The misbehavior serves the function of getting him out of written work. Supports to reduce the amount of writing needed and tools to make writing easier may eliminate the behavior in a way that escalating punishments never will.

A good Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) can make a big difference in how a student with special needs acts and reacts in a school setting. However, getting the appropriate school personnel to do the necessary behavior analysis and put a plan together can be a frustratingly lengthy process. You may want to try proposing a behavior plan of your own -- particularly if you have a good relationship with your child’s study team, and your child's teachers are as frustrated by the delays as you are.

At the very least, seeing behavior plans that others have put together can help you be an active participant in the planning process. Below is an example of successful behavior plan for a kid with ADHD:


Positive Behavior Support Plan


Behavior impacting learning is: impulsivity, kicking and throwing self to floor, disrupts class room, and recess/ unstructured activities

It impedes learning because: he is unavailable for instruction, disrupts others and teacher

Estimate of current severity of behavior problem: moderate to severe

Current frequency / intensity / duration of behavior: 3-4 / week, sometimes, up to 3 times/day

Current predictors for behavior: teasing / rejection by peers, over-stimulation, inability to express self, “sensory overload”, unexpected changes in routine, transitions, unstructured activities

What should student do instead of this behavior: learn to communicate frustrations with adult guidance either through story telling or drawing pictures about his feelings, learn to “walk away” from frustration

What supports the student using the problem behavior: misunderstanding or misinterpretation of his behaviors and communicative intent

Behavioral Goals/ Objectives related to this plan: development of age appropriate social skills, coping skills, and self-monitoring, increased tolerance to change in routine, and the development of positive replacement behaviors

Are curriculum accommodations necessary? yes / no

Is there a curriculum accommodation plan? yes / no

Teaching Strategies for new behavior instruction: validation of feelings and offering alternative replacement behaviors in the form of 1-2 choices, consistency of social skills development with “social stories”, consistent encouragement to “use words”, use clear, simple directions, ignore inappropriate behavior whenever possible............ By: teacher, aides, parents

Environmental structure and supports, time/space/materials/interactions: consistency in routine, designate a “safe place” to calm down, using favorite toys, books or activities engage him in a desired activity, avoid confrontation through calmness, negotiation, choices, diversion of attention, do not use physical force except for immediate safety concerns, anticipate predictors of behavior and avoid or prepare for intervention......By: teacher, aides, parents

Reinforcers/ rewards: immediately reward appropriate behaviors, lots of smiles, verbal praise, read stories of his choice, outside play, being a “helper”, “special “jobs”, seating next to a positive peer role model, “Social Stories’ book, puzzles, art projects, computer time/games....... By: teacher, aides, parents.....

Monitoring results and Communication:
options: daily, weekly reports
by phone: leave message, write in “Communication Book” to be sent home on Fridays, IEP Team should meet 4-6 weeks after implementation to discuss results of plan and make any necessary changes

Below is a blank form you can use for a Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan:

Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan
Planning Form - Blank
IEP teams can use this form to guide them through the process of developing the Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan.
Student _________________________________________
Age __________
Sex ___________
Teacher(s) _____________________________________________
Grade _________________
Case Manager __________________________________________
Date(s) ________________
Reason for intervention plan:
Participants (specify names):
( ) student___________________________( ) family member ____________________( ) special educator____________________( ) general educator ___________________( ) peer(s) ___________________________ ( ) special education administrator_______________( ) general education administrator ______________( ) school psychologist________________________( ) other agency personnel____________________________________________________________
( ) other (specify) _________________________________________________________

Fact Finding

1. General learning environment: Describe the student’s school class schedule, including any special programs or services.

2. Problem behavior: Define the problem behavior(s) in observable, measurable, and countable terms (i.e., topography, event, duration, seriousness, and/or intensity). Include several examples of the behavior.

3. Setting events: Describe important things that are happening in the student’s life that may be causing the behavior(s) of concern.

4. Review existing data: Summarize previously collected information (records review, interviews, observations, and test results) relevant to the behavior(s). Attach additional sheets if necessary.

Possible Explanations

5. Identify likely antecedents (precipitating events) to the behavior(s).

6. Identify likely consequences that may be maintaining the behavior(s).

7. Identify and describe any academic or environmental context(s) in which the problem behavior(s) does not occur.


8. Functional assessment: Do you already have enough information to believe that the possible explanations are sufficient to plan an intervention?

a. If yes, go to Step 9, if no, then what additional data collection is necessary?
( ) Review of IEP goals and objectives
( ) Review of medical records
( ) Review of previous intervention plans
( ) Review of incident reports
( ) ABC (across time and situations)
( ) Motivational analysis
( ) Ecological analysis
( ) Curricular analysis
( ) Scatter plot
( ) Parent questionnaire/interview
( ) Student questionnaire/interview
( ) Teacher questionnaire/interview (specify who) ______________________
( ) Other (explain) _______________________________________________
b. Summarize data. Attach additional sheets if necessary.


9. Formulate hypothesis statement: Using the table below, determine why the student engages in problem behavior(s), whether the behavior(s) serves single or multiple functions, and what to do about the behavior(s).
Internal - External
Obtain Something
Avoid Something

10. Current level of performance: Describe problem behavior(s) in a way the team will recognize onset and conclusion of behavior.

11. Describe replacement behavior(s) that are likely to serve the same function as the behavior(s) identified in Step 9.

12. Measurement procedures for problem behavior(s) and replacement behavior(s):
a. Describe how (e.g., permanent products, event recording, scatterplot), when, and where student behavior(s) will be measured.

b. Summarize data by specifying which problem behavior(s) and replacement behavior(s) will be targets for intervention.

13. Behavioral intervention plan:
a. Specify goals and objectives (conditions, criteria for acceptable performance) for teaching the replacement behavior(s).

b. Specify instructional strategies that will be used to teach the replacement behavior(s).

c. Specify strategies that will be used to decrease problem behavior(s) and increase replacement behavior(s).

d. Identify any changes in the physical environment needed to prevent problem behavior(s) and to promote desired (replacement) behavior(s), if necessary.

e. Specify extent to which intervention plan will be implemented in various settings; specify settings and persons responsible for implementation of plan.

14. Evaluation plan and schedule: Describe the plan and timetable to evaluate effectiveness of the intervention plan.
a. Describe how, when, where, and how often the problem behavior(s) will be measured.

b. Specify persons and settings involved.

c. Specify a plan for crisis/emergency intervention, if necessary

d. Determine schedule to review/modify the intervention plan, as needed. Include dates and criteria for changing/fading the plan.

15. Describe plan and timetable to monitor the degree to which the plan is being implemented.


Good luck. I trust the above will be helpful,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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