Creating Behavior Intervention Plans for Autistic Children

Help autistic behavior problems

Team-coordinated behavior intervention plans for children with autism help eliminate difficult "acting out" behaviors. More importantly, they reduce frustration for all family members by helping children with autism learn how to communicate their wants and needs in more appropriate ways.

What Is a Behavior Intervention Plan?

Following a thorough Functional Behavioral Assessment, the members of an autistic child's care coordination and education team get together and develop a behavior intervention plan based on the findings of the assessment. Effective intervention plans target behavior patterns and outline specific strategies that the team members will use to encourage the child to replace negative behavior with positive behavior in order to achieve his immediate and long-term needs.

Components of Behavior Intervention Plans

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that certain elements be included in behavior intervention plans for autistic children. These requirements ensure that disabled children receive appropriate special education services until they graduate from high school. Team members frequently include additional intervention plan elements that target needs specific to individual children.

Required Elements

The list below outlines the intervention plan elements for behavior required by IDEA for any child with a disability, including autism or asperger syndrome.

  • Detailed descriptions of the behavior targeted for intervention.
  • Information about previous interventions, including their range of effectiveness and possible reasons for failure
  • A clear description of the current intervention strategies and data collection procedures
  • A list of each team member involved in the plan, including parents and children
  • Descriptions of the expected behavior changes and measurement procedures
  • The review schedule for the intervention plan and a description of information sharing options between all team members
  • Behavior crisis plan measures in case the child's behavior worsens

Additional Elements

For better results, team members often include the components below in autism targeted behavior intervention plans.

  • Any information that may affect the intervention plan (e.g. home or parent problems, illnesses, etc.)
  • A comprehensive list of the autistic child's skills, talents, and strengths
  • A good description of the purpose that the negative behavior serves for the child (e.g. deflecting attention, signaling the need for a break, communication frustration, etc.)
  • Descriptions of the positive replacement behavior that the team will encourage the child to use

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

PBIS is a problem-solving model that reinforces behavior intervention plans for autistic children by including every member of the school system and family as a valuable support for the child in need. The system is based on the idea that all children, including those with autism, can learn to display appropriate behavior with the proper support, peer modeling, and environment. The model functions on a tri-level prevention strategy as described below, but not all education systems implement the program.

  • Primary: A school and family wide approach in which behavioral expectations are clearly defined for everyone and modeled by other students, teachers, and family members.
  • Secondary: Class-wide management strategies that support established behavior plans for students or groups of students at risk for problem behavior.
  • Tertiary: Prevention strategies that target individuals with patterns of difficult behavior.

Behavioral Support for Autistic Children at Home

If your child exhibits negative behavior at home, early intervention is crucial in helping her replace her actions with positive behavior. Speak with your doctor or care coordinator about your child's issues and make sure to take an active role in any treatment or behavior intervention plan designed for her. Consistent behavior management techniques and in-home supports are important to the success of any treatments targeting negative behavior. To make sure your child receives consistent behavior management support, include her caregivers and extended family members in the treatment process.

More Information about Behavior Intervention

For more information and support for your autistic child, browse the resources listed below.

Creating Behavior Intervention Plans for Autistic Children