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Does Your Child Need More Help In School?
Judith S. Cohen, Psy.D., LMFT
Home-based behavioral services for children with autism are aimed at helping them develop and live as independent a life as possible.
In school, the aim is the same – to help a child develop independence while providing a school-based education that facilitates independent living. Helping children whose behaviors interfere with getting the most out of their education is difficult work, especially when teachers are overwhelmed with large numbers of children in their classroom. This is when schools can use our help.
When a child’s behaviors interfere with their ability to learn, it is important for the parents and the school to recognize and figure out a plan to assist learning and development. If your child has an autism eligibility, then he/she has been through a special education assessment which resulted in the development of an Individualized Educational Program or IEP. The IEP Team determined that your child requires goals and services to help them progress in the school setting. Your child’s IEP outlines how your child performs in academics (reading, writing, arithmetic) and socially. Depending on needs identified in the IEP, additional services such as speech and language, occupational therapy and a behavioral aide may be offered.
Sometimes your child may demonstrate disruptive behaviors, such as being non-compliant, having difficulty paying attention, throwing a tantrum or even running away – which interfere with their learning. Classroom structure can be challenging for children with developmental delays. Your child may not have the skills needed for independent planning, organizing, sitting, listening, initiating and following through on assignments or tests. Children, for example who have difficulty paying attention to a classroom activity might feel anxious and refuse to participate.
There is a way to help! That help can be given in school by using a highly trained and qualified behavior specialist who will guide your child throughout their school day. Behavior Intervention Implementation or BII and Behavior Intervention Development or BID are services that can be offered to help them. BII services are a direct, one-to-one service provided by a trained behavior expert who collects data and has expertise in targeting problem behaviors that interfere with your child’s learning. This can be provided throughout the entire day or as identified in their IEP. BID services provide supervision to the BII, and an assigned BID is responsible to write reports based on the data collected by the BII, dialogue with parents and attend IEP meetings. Parents HAVE a say and if they feel BII services are needed, then they should speak up and let the IEP Team know.
A Behavior Intervention Plan or BIP is additional documentation that is part of your child’s IEP. It identifies the behaviors that interfere with learning, what is missing or needed in the school environment to insure success, and a strategy to guide the teaching replacement behaviors. Ways of reinforcing the replacement behaviors are designed based on what your child responds to and can change from time to time.
BII and BID services offer opportunities for your child’s long-term success in life.
Dr. Judith S. Cohen’s background includes 33 years as a school psychologist – which includes 29 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and four years with a school system in New Jersey. After retiring from LAUSD in 2011, Dr. Cohen’s passion for children led her to a new role as an educational advocate, where she helped families in need obtain a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Dr. Cohen currently serves as the school district coordinator for California Psychcare, a position she’s held since January 2016. Her goal is to have every child with special needs get an appropriate Individualized Educational Program (IEP) with goals and services and the appropriate educational placement aimed at helping each child grow each year.
Dr. Judith S. Cohen
School District Coordinator
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) / Behavioral Therapy – School Based
Our school-based ABA services are delivered in the classroom. A school-based approach is beneficial because it provides the opportunity for the individual receiving therapy to participate in a normal school environment – often with their peers or siblings. Community immersion and integration is a major advantage of this type of program.
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