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Selecting and Prioritizing Behaviors

23 blog avatar Selecting and Prioritizing Behaviors
Expert Name: Amanda Fishley, MA, BCBA, COBA
Expert Title: MA, BCBA, COBA
Company Name:  Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Amanda Fishley, MA, BCBA, COBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst. She has experience working with children,

adolescents and adults in variety of settings including school, home and mental health facilities. In each of these environments, she worked closely with parents, teachers, and paraprofessionals to develop and oversee implementation of behavior intervention plans. She has extensive experience mentoring and providing supervision to RBTs, BCBA candidates and behavior analysts. As an Associate Director of Clinical Solutions for Special Learning, she is responsible for creating and presenting educational materials and promoting Special Learning’s mission to positively impact the special needs community. She received her Master’s degree in Special Education/ABA from The Ohio State University. She has been working with in the field of ABA for over ten years.

Selecting and Prioritizing Behaviors
Do you work with a student that exhibits a couple or several behaviors that need targeted to be increased or decreased? Cooper, Heron, and Heward (2007) outlined some guidelines when selecting and prioritizing target behaviors.
• Safety is always first and foremost when prioritizing target behaviors 
   – Does the behavior pose a danger to the student or to others?
• To what extent will this behavior change improve the person’s life experience?
• How often will the appropriate behaviors be exhibited in the natural environment? 
• Does this behavior change have long standing effects or lead to further skill development?
• Will this behavior change be reinforced by others?
• How likely is the success in changing this target behavior? 
   – Consider current research, experience of the practitioner, ability to control consumer’s environment, resources for children with special needs available. 
• What’s the cost?
   – Consider the time and resources for children with special needs needed 
• Is the behavior change age-appropriate? 
There are likely to be additional factors when selecting and prioritizing behaviors and it’s possible to target multiple behaviors at one time. This should be a collaborative effort between the parents, the individual (if appropriate), and school/staff implementing the behavior change. 
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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