Frustration. Tears. Shock. Stress. Certainly not words people use to describe their dream job-but when challenging behaviors enter the picture, sometimes these are the only words we can think of.  For a little while…

Add behavior supports or behavior interventions. Behavior supports are the strategies and plans you put in place ahead of time to help with experiences in the behavior you want to see. Behavior Interventions are items put in place to intervene and address what is going on.

Behavior Support 

Antecedent based interventions

Antecedent based interventions are rooted in a collection of evidence-based and proactive strategies that you can use to prevent problematic behavior before it arises. The solution often comes down to the way in which you can modify the classroom environment. so that, hopefully, the behaviors do not occur.

What could possibly trigger problematic behavior? Whether it be a certain object or the way that things are arranged, the issue can be identified by your close observation skills. As soon as you’ve determined the source of the negative behavior, you can put the antecedent based intervention into action. Your students will soon begin to feel more in control of the space they’re learning in.

Reinforcing visual supports

Students on the autism spectrum often need more than one method of communication to fully comprehend a message. To reinforce the rules that you may convey by speaking alone, you can also add in visual support. These tools can help provide the clarity that might not get across to your students and can be as simple as a picture, graphic, or a word. Without any additional effort on your part, these visual supports can help students better understand what is expected of them when it comes to the routines, tasks, and rules of the classroom.

Stick to a schedule

One big challenge that students on the autism spectrum often deal with is time management. It can be especially hard for them to know when to transition between activities or to adjust to sudden schedule change. To prevent any subsequent negative behavior from arising, it’s important to make sure that you establish a clear schedule which is consistently followed. Extra bonus points to you if you post a schedule as a visual support! This will help your students become more familiar with what is expected of them throughout the day.

Teaching routines

Within the classroom, students can often feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks they have to do, from putting their coats in the cubbies and preparing their supplies to eating at lunch and solving difficult problems. If students don’t receive enough guidance on these routine tasks, then the tasks can almost become triggers for problematic behaviors on their own. By providing your students with mini routines on these tasks, this can ultimately help reduce the stress that comes with completion. It can also even increase their independence and confidence levels!

Providing Choices

As an educator or a parent, you can’t forget about giving your students the freedom to choose from time to time. It not only conveys that you respect the decisions they make, but also helps gain more confidence and control of their lives. It’s this very act of choosing for themselves that can aid in preventing problematic behaviors.

Behavior Intervention

Invest in token boards

Once a problematic behavior has arisen, you can invest in a token board as a visual way for a student to demonstrate their progress. These boards can encourage students to complete their tasks with a reinforcing reward at the end. Every time the student finishes a target task or behavior, you can hand them a token to place on a token board. As soon as the board is filled out, you can give them the reward and start the board over again.

Create social narratives

Social narratives are basically short stories you can create that allow students to gain a better understanding of the appropriate social behaviors to use in certain social situations. This helps your students develop more contextual skills in social settings because they are more explicit ways of learning.

As you’re crafting a story, be sure to focus on the key details at hand. Don’t forget to include a brief description of the situation, what the appropriate behavior should be, an explanation of why it’s appropriate, and how the behavior would benefit the student. In no time, your students will be able to apply those social narratives to the situations they counter in real life and choose the appropriate behaviors every time.

Behavior Support is most likely one of the main types of support educators, parents and family members are researching when they have an individual that has challenging behaviors. Behavior Support is complicated and should be highly individualized to the needs of the individual. Many times you will need to begin identifying the target behavior (we have a very detailed article to get you in the right direction here) very clearly and then identify the root cause or function of the behavior behavior in order to develop a meaningful way to intervene.


Antecedent Based Interventions strive to change the environment ahead of time to avoid the behaviors in the first place. Other methods many attempt to provide a communication method that takes the place of the behavior's message and says the same thing without the individual using the challenging behavior. Sometimes teaching appropriate behavior related skills can be a way to address the topic globally.  In either case, a clear understanding of what the behavior is, why the behavior occurs and what the plan is to address the behavior is needed. 

Here are various pages that discuss behavior interventions:

Positive Behavior Supports and Preventative Supports

Interventions for Challenging Behaviors

Supports for the School

Functional Behavior Assessments 

How to Identify Target Behaviors For a Functional Behavior Assessment

Ways to Help Identify the Function

Strategies to Respond to Each Function

Behavior Intervention Plans 

Writing a Behavior Intervention Plan

Social Skills Related to Behaviors

Applied Behavior Analysis

Verbal Behavior Analysis






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