It is appropriate to regard Leonard’s behavior as challenging. This conclusion is indicated by many behavioral characteristics from the evaluation of Ms. Alison and the special education consultant. There is evidence that Leonard’s behavior impedes his learning. Firstly, Leonard cannot concentrate during the presentations to benefit from the teacher’s lecture. Secondly, when he is prompted to do some problems, he does them hurriedly. The result is a messy and incomplete work. Ms. Alison also noted that mathematics and writing are Leonard’s least favorite periods (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014).
The behavior is also challenging because it interrupts the learning of the other students in class. His several movements during class are a distraction for the other students. The special education consultant noted that when he was requested to sit down, he would strike conversations with his peers, something that disrupted them from learning (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014). Additionally, his disruptive behavior takes up much of the teacher’s time; time that could have been spent teaching the other students. There are many indications in the notes made by Ms. Alison and the special education consultant where the teacher has to ask Leonard to sit down constantly. The special education consultant also noted that Ms. Alison had to run after Leonard for running in the class. All these disruptions impede learning for the other students (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014).
Leonard’s behavior is not an interference or impediment to social relationships. Ms. Alison notes that Leonard likes school, the teacher and the teaching assistance. Leonard also engages in conversations with her peers in class (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014). Although this is a disruptive behavior, it is an indication of social activity. It is also inferable from the fact that physical education and recess are some of favorite periods for Leonard that his social relationships are not impeded by his behavior. This is because these are periods where pupils interact with their peers (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014).
The effects of the student’s behavior have a negative influence on his self-esteem. Ms. Alison notes that Leonard receives bad grades. This is concerning, especially because Crocker, Karpinski, Quin & Chase (2003) found that low grades affect the self-esteem of students negatively. The fact that he is already scoring low grades, he dislikes periods where writing and mathematics are taught, and that he does not concentrate in class could contribute to a low self-esteem for Leonard (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014).
There are no overt indications that Leonard’s behavior puts him at immediate risk of physical danger. There are also no indications that the other students are in immediate physical danger because of the behavior of Leonard. However, actions such as rocking the chair, climbing on the chair and the desk, and balancing in the legs of the chair are not consistent with safe behavior for the children of his age (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014). Nonetheless, the actions are more likely to bring physical harm to Leonard than the other children in the class (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014).
Leonard’s behavior occurs on a frequent basis. There are several indications from the notes made by Ms. Alison and the special education consultant. Ms. Alison uses adverbs such as repeatedly to show the frequency with which Leonard engages in the disruptive behavior. For instance, Ms. Alison says, “Leaves his seat and wanders in the classroom repeatedly.” She also says, “Repeatedly drops and picks up his pencil,” “Repeatedly sharpens his pencil,” and “Repeatedly ask questions” (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014, p.26). The use of repeatedly in those notes by Ms. Alison shows that Leonard’s behavior is frequent.
Anderson (2011) reports that some of the characteristics of third graders is that they are full of enthusiasm, energy, and are curious. This implies that they are willing to attempt new things when instructed. Leonard’s inability to take instruction is inconsistent with this behavior. Anderson (2011) also argues that the attention span of third graders is not in keeping with their enthusiasm. As a result, third graders will often take up projects that they will not necessarily finish. While some aspects of Leonard’s behavior are typical for his age, the poor performance and the low attention span are oddly inconsistent.
Leonard’s behavior should be changed by applying the functional assessment and intervention model. This is because the model is built on practical assumptions that explain how appropriate and challenging behaviors are developed and maintained. By understanding the factors that lead to the development and maintenance of appropriate and challenging behaviors, one can design interventions that discourage the development of challenging behaviors and encourage the maintenance of appropriate behavior (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014). For instance, this model assumes that the current environment supports the development and maintenance of challenging and appropriate behaviors. Designing interventions would then take into consideration the antecedent triggers and consequences for the challenging behavior in order to yield appropriate behavior (McDougal, Chafouleas & Waterman, 2006).
The model also assumes that environmental conditions present in the period leading to and after the challenging behavior predict behavior change. The implication is that functions of behavior such as sensory regulation and stimulation, negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement can be used by the child to get their desired outcomes (Chandler& Dahlquist, 2014). For instance, when a teacher reprimands a child for using profanity when the teacher attends to other students in the class, the function of the teacher’s behavior in this instance is a positive reinforcement because the disruptive child was able to obtain the teachers attention. The recommendation by Chandler& Dahlquist (2014) is to consider the child’s perspective when designing interventions. What was designed as a punishment for profanity by the teacher was a positive outcome for the student in the above example because it gained the attention of the teacher. This would imply that the continued use of this intervention by the teacher would not help develop appropriate behavior in the student. It is the intuition of this model that makes it appropriate for achieving behavior change in Leonard.
Anderson, M. (2011). What every 3rd grade teacher needs to know about setting up and running a classroom. Turners Falls, MA. Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc.
Chandler, L. & Dahlquist, C. (2014). Functional Assessment: Strategies to Prevent and Remediate Challenging Behavior in School Settings. Upper Saddle River. Pearson.
Crocker, J., Karpinski, A., Quin, D. and Chase. S. (2003). When grades determine self-worth: consequences of contingent self-worth for male and female engineering and psychology majors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(3): 507-516
McDougal, J. L., Chafouleas, S., & Waterman, B. B. (2006). Functional behavioral assessment and intervention in schools: A practitioner's guide : grades 1-8. Champaign, IL: Research Press.