Are You Implementing too Many Interventions?

a woman thinking

It seems like educators are in constant problem solving mode. We throw everything including the kitchen sink at our student in effort to decrease their problem behaviors while increasing appropriate ones. We are trying all of the things, all at once. Then one day…BAM! Success! Something we did worked. We aren't totally sure what it was that worked, so we keep everything in place just to be sure. We keep running this social skills group, we keep the timer, we keep the visuals, we keep the token board, we keep the replacement behavior, we keep it all. 

But here's the problem with that. We need to know which one(s) actually had the effect on the behavior if we are to ever: 1) continue to the next steps of that intervention and 2) eventually fade those supports.  We can easily add too many supports in the classroom, and then we are left with a student who struggles to do anything independently. We are also then stuck having to continuously implement all of these different interventions to no end – and who has time for that?

So what should we do?

  1. Identify your behaviors for decrease and/or increase. Clearly define them in observable and measurable terms. 
  2. Gather some baseline on your behavior. Ideally you want 3-5 data points to serve as your present level of performance, but if the behavior is dangerous, you will want to intervene sooner than later. This will serve as a comparison for your intervention data
  3. Select an intervention or strategy to implement. Consider the function of the behavior, environmental variables, skill deficits, etc. and choose an intervention that will target the areas of need. As always, be sure to weigh the risks vs. the benefits of interventions as well - there will be times when an intervention you may use for one student may not be appropriate for another student given a variety of factors. 
  4. Develop a goal. What type of change in behavior do you want to see? Identifying this will help you to see if your progress is headed in the right direction.
  5. Progress monitoring is your friend, so make nice and collect data for enough time to start to see a pattern. Graph the data in a simple spread sheet and analyze it; Is the behavior increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? Let the data do the talking! If your intervention does not seem to be having an effect on the pattern of the behavior, you may consider changing the duration, frequency, type of intervention or add a component.
  6. If the intervention is proving to be effective, continue to progress monitor it until you reach your goal. Then, determine how you will fade out the intervention so the student doesn’t regress backwards. Remember, some interventions may take longer to effect the behavior than others, so patience is key.