Reduce Challenging Behaviors

Reduce Challenging Behaviors

Before and even while placing students with autism in natural social contexts with typically developing peers, teachers and others must address challenging behaviors exhibited by the students with autism. Challenging behaviors should be assessed using functional assessment (see Chapter 3 ), and interventions should be implemented to reduce those behaviors and establish functional replacement behaviors. Behaviors such as self-stimulation, self-injury, and aggression will undoubtedly result in fewer social initiations from peers and may result in the student with autism being restricted from participating in those activities. Furthermore, children with autism who exhibit such behaviors may become targets of negative social interaction such as bullying (Didden et al., 2009). Children with autism probably do not need to be completely free of negative behaviors before socialization interventions (Simpson, Myles, Sasso, & Kamps, 1997), but they must be basically compliant and safe (e.g., pose no threat of harm to themselves or peers) and have ways to communicate their wants and needs.

Teach Pivotal Behaviors

Koegel and his colleagues recommend targeting pivotal behaviors , or behaviors that are central to many areas of functioning (Mohammadzaheri, Koegel, Rezaei, & Bakhshi, 2015). Pivotal behaviors serve a similar purpose in a variety of areas of functioning, including social functioning (Koegel & Koegel, 1995). As such, they can lead to higher-quality social interactions and can improve generalization across behaviors and environments. Comprehensive socialization planning should include interventions targeting pivotal social behaviors (Koegel et al., 2012). Potential pivotal behaviors for improving socialization include initiating interactions, communication, using appropriate affect, responding to initiations, engaging in joint attention, and terminating interactions.

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