Posted: September 11th, 2023
Case Study: Stephen
Stephen is a seven-year-old boy with autism who receives most of his education in an inclusive first grade classroom. He speaks in one-and two-word utterances and can say “book,” “food,” “more,” “hi,” and “drink.” However, his main mode of communication is a picture-exchange system.
Although Stephen has demonstrated that he really enjoys group activities, he has lately begun biting his fellow students. In addition, he has begun pinching his teacher during one-on-one instruction. After he engages in one of these behaviors, he yells, “It hurts!” and starts laughing.
A behavior analyst has conducted a structured interview as part of a functional behavior assessment for Stephen. The teacher and parents’ responses indicate that the function of Stephen’s aggressive behaviors is to seek attention. Keeping this information in mind, the analyst needs to directly assess Stephen’s behavior.
Stephen’s general education teacher, Ms. Gonzales, has recorded data regarding the frequency of his behaviors, but with inconsistency as she is the only adult in the classroom. The special education teacher, Mr. Kuchar, has not been able to spend much time in the inclusion classroom to support Stephen and Ms. Gonzales and to observe Stephen’s behavior. Ms. Gonzales has requested a meeting with the Child Study Team to discuss the possibility of changing Stephen’s placement.
Ms. Gonzales frequently communicates with Stephen’s parents and has mentioned a possible placement change to them. Stephen’s parents do not want him to be pulled out of the inclusion classroom even though other students are being hurt. Currently, there are five other students in the inclusion classroom who receive special education services for behavior issues. Stephen’s behaviors are the most severe. Ms. Gonzales does not feel she can effectively meet Stephen’s needs with regards to his behaviors and keep the other students from being hurt.
Mr. Kuchar agrees that Stephen needs to be placed in a different classroom to better fit his needs; however, he has realized that there is inconsistent data collected thus far to support this need. The school principal also agrees with the suggestion of a placement change and has asked Mr. Kuchar to set up a meeting to discuss this with Stephen’s parents.
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