IEP Considerations for Students with EBD

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with emotional behavior disorders usually require additional pieces added to their IEPs. This lesson will focus on how teachers can write and implement functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans.

Problem Behaviors

Jeremy is a fifth-grade student who has been identified as having an EBD, emotional behavior disorder. He spends part of the day in a mainstream setting, but also receives special education services in a separate classroom. His disorder causes him to engage in extreme, unpredictable behaviors that are becoming more dangerous now that he is entering adolescence. As Jeremy's teachers prepare for his annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting, they meet together to discuss their specific concerns.

In his regular classroom, Jeremy is a major distraction to his peers. He refuses to do any classwork, he does not follow teacher instructions, and he never has the appropriate materials for an assignment. His assignments are either not turned in or incomplete, and his test scores are dropping even further below his peers. He is beginning to see that physical aggression gets him the attention that he wants, and he has threatened to beat up other students on the playground. The most recent event to cause major concern happened when he did not want to work on a math assignment. He threw his papers off the desk, yelled and cursed at the teacher, and flipped three desks over.

These problem behaviors have been going on for several weeks, and are escalating in frequency and severity. In preparation for the IEP meeting, his teachers have also started preparing a functional behavior assessment and behavior intervention plan to discuss with Jeremy and his parents.

Functional Behavior Assessment

Interventions for improving behavior are most effective when we understand why a student is acting out. A functional behavior assessment (FBA) helps us determine the cause of problem behaviors through observation and data collection. Observations of student behavior are the first step to completing an FBA. The examples in this lesson will give a brief overview of something that is much more detailed and complex in real life. Many school districts have specific forms that outline each step to be completed in order to put an FBA and behavior intervention plan in place. Keep in mind, what you will see in the following sections are a skeleton for what would actually take place.

We will explore the components of behavior intervention using Jeremy as our example. His teachers have determined that his violent outbursts in class are their greatest concern.

Observation and Data Collection

In order to create an effective FBA, Ms. Cook, a behavior specialist, must first observe the problem behavior over many instances. She specifically looks for answers to the following questions.

  • What does the problem behavior look like?

Ms. Cooks writes a complete, detailed description of Jeremy's problem behavior.

When given an assignment, Jeremy throws his papers off his desk, says (curse word), stands up, and flips the desk over.

  • What is the antecedent to the behavior (What happens right before the behavior occurs?)

The teacher puts a math assignment on his desk.

  • What is the consequence for his behavior (What happens right after the behavior occurs?)

Jeremy's teacher tells him to sit in the corner. His assignment is taken away, and he sits for about 15 minutes by himself.

  • What is the function of the behavior (Why is Jeremy doing this?)

After several observations, Ms. Cook sees a pattern that helps her determine why Jeremy acts out the way he does. Each time he yells and flips his desk over, he gets sent to the corner to sit alone. He gets out of doing the assignment that was originally given to him. The function for his behavior is escape.

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