Our team conducts assessments during the initial intake process and throughout treatment. These assessments range from brief 30-60 minute interviews and observations to comprehensive evaluations that address every facet of a child’s skill deficits and problem behaviors. Assessments are tailored to and designed for the unique needs of each child. Evaluations can include some or all of the following components:
Semi-Structured Interviews and Self-Report Measures
We use several different interview formats in order to gather information about a child’s skills, deficits, and therapy needs from the child’s caregivers. Relevant information may include functional living skills, safety skills, social skills, feeding concerns, sleep difficulties, toilet training, challenging behaviors, among others. Our team selects specific measures and tailors interviews to the needs of each family. The information we gather from these interviews and measures helps us prioritize different treatment goals according to the impact these skills or deficits have on the patient’s family.
As behavior analysts, we treat behaviors that are observable and measurable. Behaviors may occur too frequently (behavioral excesses) or not frequently enough (behavioral deficits). We observe our patients in any environment in which behavioral excesses or deficits occur. Observation prior to developing or implementing an intervention allows us to tailor our approach to the individual patient and his or her environment. Ongoing observation throughout the treatment process allows us to assess the effects of our treatments and modify them as necessary.
We gather information from family members, teachers, and other caregivers about different topographies of challenging behaviors. This information may include environments in which the behaviors occur, people present when the behaviors occur, caregiver responses to these behaviors, methods caregivers have tried to address challenging behaviors, etc.
Functional analysis is the strategic and systematic process of altering the environment to turn the problem behaviors on and off; this process is essential to demonstrating that certain contingencies cause a behavior to occur or increase. We design a functional analysis for individual patients presenting with challenging behaviors using a combination of parent interviews, direct observations, and best-practice guidelines. We conduct functional analyses to identify the behavior’s function and develop treatment that is targeted, safe, ethical, and effective.
Once we identify the function of a particular target behavior, we develop and implement a function-based treatment package. We test the intervention package, assess the effects of the treatment on the target behavior, and modify the package as needed. We then use behavioral skills training (BST) to teach parents, teachers, and caregivers to implement the intervention.
Using the information we gather through various assessments, we develop a thorough and comprehensive treatment plan that explicitly details goals for behavioral excesses and deficits. This plan includes prevention strategies, teaching procedures, consequence strategies, data collection, and generalization goals. We review each patient’s individualized treatment plan with his or her family in order to ensure families are able to actively participate in the treatment process.
Training and Generalization
Effective treatments change behavior across a variety of environments and individuals. In order to ensure generalization of treatment effects, our team implements interventions not only in the home, but also in the clinic and any other setting in which target behaviors occur. Additionally, we train parents, teachers, and other caregivers to implement these procedures to ensure global and lasting change. Training caregivers and direct-care staff to implement treatment plans in a competent, safe, and effective manner is paramount.