Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Providing Instruction from Novel Staff as an Antecedent Intervention for Child Tantrum Behavior in a Public School Classroom

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Providing Instruction from Novel Staff as an Antecedent Intervention for Child Tantrum Behavior in a Public School Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract

Using a case study method ("Level 1" research), we evaluated an antecedent intervention for tantrum behavior of a 5-year old girl who had cognitive, language, and motor challenges. The setting was a kindergarten classroom in a public elementary school. A functional assessment indicated that tantrums were most likely to occur during several "high demand" activities and that novel staff were associated with absence of tantrums. The antecedent intervention, consisting of having novel staff conduct instruction, was implemented during the "high demand" activities each day. Tantrum behavior was eliminated during intervention and remained absent at a 1-month follow-up. Staff who participated in the intervention judged it to be highly effective and acceptable.

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Antecedent control interventions have been used effectively to reduce and eliminate challenging behaviors displayed by people who have developmental disabilities (Luiselli & Cameron, 1998a; Smith & Iwata, 1997). In contrast to consequence based strategies, antecedent approaches are proactive

and preventive because the intent is to modify variables so that problems are less likely to occur. Antecedent interventions include the manipulation of discriminative stimuli (Sd) and establishing operations (EOs) (Miltenberger, 1998).

Several studies have evaluated the effects of antecedent control as intervention for challenging behaviors maintained by negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement applies to situations where behavior terminates (escape) or postpones exposure to (avoidance) an undesirable condition. Escape-motivated behaviors, in particular, are encountered frequently in educational settings. To illustrate, a student may experience certain instructional activities as "demanding" because they are too complex, confusing, or effortful. If instruction is stopped when the student demonstrates behaviors such as throwing objects, screaming, or hitting the teacher, an escape contingency may be established because the student's behavior was reinforced negatively through the consequence of activity termination.

A number of intervention strategies have been found to be effective in reducing escape-motivated challenging behaviors. These include eliminating and gradually "fading in" instructional demands (Zarcone et al. 1993), introducing choice-making opportunities (Vaughn & Horner, 1997), programming noncontingent escape from activities (Coleman & Holmes, 1998), and changing how verbal directions are given (Piazza, Contrucci, Hanley, & Fisher, 1997). The continued evolution and refinement of antecedent control interventions for behavior support of people with developmental disabilities requires the identification of additional procedures and demonstration of their application within naturalistic ("real world") settings. In the following case report, we describe antecedent intervention with a child who had developmental disabilities and tantrum behavior. An assessment-derived behavior support plan was implemented by educational staff at a public elementary school that included an alteration of staff (novel versus fami liar) present during demanding activities. We also assessed social validity (Schwartz & Baer, 1991) by soliciting satisfaction and acceptability opinions of participating staff. In contrast to previous research concerning antecedent intervention for escape motivated challenging behaviors, our study did not alter the demand characteristics of instruction but instead, was based solely on a substitution of staff as a controlling variable. An additional contribution to the literature is the evaluation of intervention in an inclusive educational setting as opposed to experimental or simulated (analog) conditions.

Method

Participant

Lisa was a 5.5-year-old girl who had developmental disabilities associated with a diagnosis of Joubert Syndrome. …

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