To identify any strengths and weaknesses of the student, it is usually necessary to use some tests and questions. However, within this assessment framework, methods of observation, passive data collection, and interviews with persons close to the subject, teachers and parents, were used. The reason for this behavior is this student’s background and personality. This student is a 7-year-old multicultural girl living with her mother and two siblings. She is nonverbal and demonstrates an almost complete absence of coherent speech. In addition, this withdrawal and avoidance are combined with two hazardous target behaviors: the tendency to bang her fists and head against surrounding objects and people. At the slightest attempt to suggest objects or activities unwanted by the student, an attack of one of two target behaviors occurred.
Consequently, the administration of assessment took place for the most part in an observation format. This technique has weaknesses since there is no way to effectively determine the cause of the problem through communication with the student. In addition, since only teachers and parents were interviewed, there is a risk of bias. However, considering the personality characteristics, observation, and communication with persons close to the child allow obtaining the greatest amount of information without provoking dangerous situations. Combining these two approaches provides both a qualitative assessment of the child’s abilities and a quantitative assessment of behavior. Thus, studying official records and observing a child in various settings is a relatively reliable source of information.
The following results were obtained regarding target behaviors using observations and analysis. The first type of behavior is banging the student’s head against things and people around; the intensity of these actions is rated as 5 out of 5. The second type is similar to the first, but the student uses her fists instead of her head, and the intensity is rated as 4 out of 5. In both cases, the duration of such attacks is about 5 minutes. Seizures of this kind are seen in all contexts of the school setting, from the school bus to all premises and areas where learning takes place. The triggers of this behavior are any attempts to demand something from the student and attempts to attract her to unwanted activities. At the same time, according to observations, the girl likes to draw with markers and crayons, solve riddles, and show positive results in increased reinforcement by praise.
Observations make it clear that this student is a problematic child who it difficult to find an approach in a typical school setting. Her non-verbal nature and tendency to hit herself and others require a unique approach. The child’s behavior is dictated by the desire to receive instant sensory stimuli and tangible reinforcement. Lowering the requirements and increasing the number of material and verbal rewards has a small positive effect. To consolidate this success and continue the development and training of the student, combining softer learning conditions with individual approaches is necessary. The study shows that the girl has specific strengths – drawing and solving puzzles. Therefore, it is necessary to use these areas as much as possible, combining educational activities with those actions to avoid target behavior situations. In addition, measures should be continued to improve the safety of the student’s environment so that it cannot harm anyone.
It is also necessary to use additional resources to overcome the problem of non-verbalism. In this context, Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) tools can be considered, which, according to research, help develop speaking skills for children (Odom et al., 2021). A low-tech AAC based on the Picture Exchange Communication System can be used in this student’s context (Odom et al., 2021). Given the girl’s love of drawing, this approach can reduce the number of seizures and positively affect the learning process. Finally, it is necessary to study the student’s home situation and how she behaves at home so that correcting such behavior has the maximum effect.
Odom, S.L., Hall, L.J., Morin, K.L., Kraemer, B.R., Hume, K.A., McIntyre, N.S., Nowell, S.W., Steinbrenner, J.R., Tomaszewski, B., Sam, A.M., & DaWalt, L. (2021). Educational interventions for children and youth with autism: A 40-year perspective. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-16. Web.