Behavior Chart Ideas for Students with Autism

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Are you looking for ways to manage the behaviors of your students with autism spectrum disorder? This lesson will provide all the information you need to start using behavior charts in your classroom today.

How Can a Behavior Chart Help Me?

Have your students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ever exhibited challenging behaviors in the classroom? You can help your students manage their behaviors by using a behavior chart that helps them track their actions. Using behavior charts can help increase a desired behavior such as making eye contact, a difficult objective for some students with ASD. You can also use behavior charts to decrease disruptive behaviors such as rocking or hand flapping, which are common stimming, or self-stimulatory, actions for students with ASD.

Behavior Chart Example

The following behavior chart example could be used for any age group, any ability level, and to increase or decrease a specific behavior. To create this chart, you just need a piece of paper and pen, or you can create a chart online. Consider any sensory issues your students might have. Students with ASD often have adverse reactions to certain textures, colors, etc. Use materials that will not distract them from the purpose of the behavior chart.

Once created, the chart can be used to track behaviors in specific time increments for the entire day. Using the chart will help keep students on track by providing a record of their behaviors, as well as showing you any patterns in their behaviors. Patterns can include certain times of the day the behavior increases or decreases. You can use this information to modify the learning environment as needed.

Create a chart that has one column, broken into specific timeframes or activities. For example, you could break the day down into hourly increments such as 8:00-9:00, then 9:00-10:00, etc. Alternately you could break the day down by activities such as 'Reading Circle', 'Math Station', 'Recess', etc. The chart should now have a different box for every section, and they should be in sequential order so that it is easy for you and the student to track. You might have to make the time increments smaller for some students, e.g., 30, 15 or even 5 minute time periods. How you choose to block the day will depend on the student and the behavior. You could also add more columns for a weekly chart, but that can be visually overwhelming to a student with ASD so use your best judgement.

Student Name: Johnny Applewhite
Target Behavior: Decrease shouting out
Time Monday
8:00 - 8:30
8:30 - 9:00
9:00 - 9:30
9:30 - 10:00 +
10:00 - 10:30
10:30 - 11:00 +
11:00 - 11:30
11:30 - 12:00
12:00 - 12:30
12:30 - 1:00
1:00 - 1:30 +
1:30 - 2:00
2:00 - 2:30 +
2:30 - 3:00
Total 4

In this chart, the behavior to be tracked, or the target behavior is to decrease Johnny's shouting out in class. It is disruptive to the other students. Johnny's school day is broken down into half-hour increments. For each 30 minute time frame that Johnny did not shout out a + was placed in the box. For the times Johnny did shout out in class the box was left empty. Try to avoid using sad faces, red X's or anything with a negative connotation. The total number of +'s was tallied at the end of the day.

Rewards and Consequences

When using a behavior chart with a student, you should decide how you will reward progress or, if necessary, apply consequences for lack of progress that is recorded on the chart.

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