Replacing Challenging Behaviors with Communication for Non-Verbal and Emerging-Verbal Children
(No Prep Kit)
Children who are not able to communicate effectively with those around them often resort to what we call “challenging behaviors” in order to express themselves and get their wants and needs met. Some of those children are very good at making those challenging behaviors work for them but they can interfere with our ability to help them communicate with those around them and participate in daily living activities or school.
We can help these children replace those challenging behaviors with effective communication strategies that will help them communicate their wants and needs without becoming disruptive or destructive. Our job as the speech-language professional is to take a look at those behaviors and figure out what they are communicating. Then, we can teach the child effective communication strategies that will help reduce the need for the child to engage in those other behaviors. And we can do this even if the child is non-verbal or doesn’t have many language skills yet.
This packet includes everything you need to do just that!
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This 56-page packet includes everything you need to walk you through identifying the function of challenging behaviors and replacing them with effective communication strategies. Everything is laid out for you and we’ll walk you through the entire process, step-by-step. You’ll find resources for parents and educators for every step of the process so you can keep the whole team on the same page to keep the child moving forward.
Age Range: This packet is perfect for children who are non-verbal or who are just beginning to communicate (up through the simple sentences level). We find that this often corresponds with ages 1-5 years but older children may benefit from this packet as well if they are in those non-verbal, pre-verbal, or emerging-verbal stages of development.
Follow this kit from front to back and you’ll have everything you need to do the following:
- Gather Information about the child’s behaviors in the natural environment
- Conduct an Effective Observation of the child’s behaviors while altering the environment to test theories
- Identify the Function of the behaviors
- Choose Appropriate Replacement Behaviors that use effective communication strategies to get wants and needs met
- Meet with the child’s team to Create a Behavior Response Plan and Identify Environmental Modifications
- Introduce the New Communication Strategy to the child in a 1:1 session (in the natural environment)
- Help the child’s team carry out the plan to Help the Child Establish the New Strategy
- Help the child Generalize the New Communication Strategy
- Help the child Learn to Wait to get what he has communicated when in the middle of another activity
- Choose New Behaviors to target or identify other areas of need
Discover What's Inside:
Sample goals for using rubric-style assessment for the following skills:
- Using Language to Request a Break instead of Using Escape/Avoidance Behaviors
- Using Language to Request Something
- Using Language to Seek Attention
- Using Language to Request a Sensory Break or Activity
Use this rubric-style data collection sheet to record progress on how independently the child is able to use language to communicate a specific want/need.
Keep parents, caregivers, educators, and staff on the same page throughout the whole process. Each phase of therapy includes letters and/or questionnaires that can be sent to parents and educators to get feedback and inform them of their role in the process.
For each phase of therapy, we’ll tell you exactly what to do during your sessions and how to make decisions about the best replacement behaviors to choose and strategies to try. You’ll have exactly what you need for each of these phases:
- Observing Behaviors
- Determining the Function of Behaviors and Choosing Replacement Beahviors
- Establishing the Replacement Behavior
- Generalizing the Replacement Behavior
- Reviewing Behavior and Resetting
A key component of this process is meeting with the child’s team (teachers, therapists, parents, caregivers, staff, etc.) and keeping everyone on the same page. Large-scale behavior changes can’t occur without a team approach. This packet includes fill-in-the-blank forms and instructions for how to conduct each aspect of your meetings with the team. The “Behavior Response Plan” will allow you to fill in an exact script that you can hand to all adults on the team to help them respond to the child in the same way each time. We’ve taken the guess-work out of working with the team to get everyone on the same page. We’ll tell you exactly what to do, what to write, and how to get everyone on board.
Children who are non-verbal or minimally-verbal require a lot of visuals to use for communication. That’s why we’ve included visual aids for 13 different communication strategies as well as two for encouraging the child to wait to get what he wants. The visuals for the communication strategies target one word/phrase that is often used in this type of therapy and includes a picture of the target vocabulary word, the American Sign Language sign for that word, and an AAC-style sentence builder that can be used to support children who are learning to form sentences to get their needs met (either non-verbally or verbally).
This packet includes visual aids for the following communication strategies:
- I need a break
- I need to calm (used for calming sensory activities)
- I am done
- Hi! (used for seeking attention)
- Can I have a high five?
- I need a hug
- I need to move
- It is my turn
- I need ____
- No, thank you
- Can I play?
- I want ____
- A blank one for making your own
We know this isn’t an easy process. There are many factors that have to be taken into consideration and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for teaching children to use functional communication instead of behaviors. That’s why we’ve included a lot of different tips, strategies, and ideas to help you customize this plan to the child you are working with. We include ideas for children who may require the following types of communication strategies:
- Gestures: For children who aren’t able to communicate at all
- Picture Communication: For children who are able to point to a picture or hand someone a picture
- Sign Language: For children who are able to use sign language to communicate
- Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC): For children who are able to use AAC devices or systems to communicate with others
- Verbal Speech: For children who are able to speak single words, phrases, or full sentences to communicate their wants and needs.
We also include tips and strategies to try if a child is not responding well to the plan or if the staff is struggling to implement it effectively. We’re here to make this process as easy on you as possible!
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