As part of the Learning Center, we provide behavioral supports to our students as additional support in the development of the appropriate skills to access and engage in more educational and social opportunities. We have found that when our students struggle with anxiety, deficits in grade-level skills, and/or social skills their overall academic potential is not achieved. As a result, we desired to add more supports to help them overcome these and other barriers in order to help them see the success they and their family desire.
Our behavioral supports are based upon the science and technologies of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is a scientific approach to changing behavior through skill development and behavior modification. Our Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) assesses and works with the student creating an individualized plan that moves past knowledge acquisition of what to do and rather the ability to engage in the new skills fluently.
To do this we:
Teach Social Skills—Utilizing the PEERS curriculum developed by UCLA, our students are taught new skills in how to make and maintain friends. Part of this process is learning how to utilize social media appropriately, resolve conflict with peers and friends, and how to change reputations.
Utilize Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT): At times our students get stuck in various aspects of their lives preventing them from accessing the daily reinforcers of their actions. ACT is a great tool that has been developed to help increase behavioral flexibility and get our students back into the present. We additionally utilize ACT as a preventative tool to develop the skills necessary to tackle life’s futures adventures.
Utilize Precision Teaching (PT): Developed by Ogden Lindsley, PT is an evidence-based teaching tool that focuses not only on the mastery but on the fluency of the subject. When an academic skill is less effortful in recall and use, our students are able to move forward at a more accelerated pace in various subjects. We utilize PT with reading, writing, and mathematics finding that we can help our students catch up to grade-level skills quicker and help them access new information more efficiently.
Help our students Cope with Stress and Anxiety: Through a combined curriculum of Accept.Identify.Move and Learning to Breathe we teach mindfulness, problem-solving, and adaptive skills to cope properly with the stressors of life. We help our students develop self-management skills recognizing the source of their anxiety and managing it in order to engage in their daily activities.
Teach Executive Functioning Skills: Through the utilization of the assessments and curriculum of behaviorist and psychologist Dawson & Guare, we teach 13 different executive skills to help students develop the necessary academic and self-management skills to exceed in life. The skill sets range from response inhibition, metacognition, sustained attention, organization, and others.
Implement Individualized Behavior Plans—Increasing the engagement in adaptive socially appropriate behaviors and reducing learned problem behavior is a key element of our behavior supports. In addition to the preventative and skill development tools listed above, we also utilize evidence-based non-intrusive behavior change procedures through the utilization of motivation and reinforcement. Individualized plans developed through the use of functional behavior assessments (FBA) are developed for the student in order to personalize the approach.
All plans, including skill development and preventative plans, are shared and collaborated with the student’s dorm parents, teachers, advisor, therapist, academic coach, and any other key stakeholder in the student’s life. This helps to provide a full-student approach with all individuals on the same page working on the same skills. Our goal is to help each student develop the skills and tools to accomplish anything they wish now and in their future.