What we will cover - Productive Living Board

Turning Challenging Behaviors
into Real Engagement
Cindy Brown, L.C.S.W.
Your name
Current position / years in the position
Briefly tell us of a time in which you
were fully engaged
What we will cover:
Learn strategies to engage rather than
only gain compliance
Add new tools to your tool box when
working with challenging behaviors
Learn redirection and other therapeutic
interventions to implement change
What you want to learn today
The Change Cycle
Old Behavior
Desired Behavior
Average Productivity
Neutral Zone
- Transition -
Why do individuals follow behavior
plans and PCPs ?
For money / for rewards /Tangibles
Approval / affiliation / social attention
To escape punishment
To avoid shame, blame or judgment
To avoid guilt
Out of ‘duty’ / ‘Supposed to’
Out of obedience
Signs of Compliance* could be:
Passive responding
Following the “script” – no authoring
Being dutiful
Referencing outsiders for assurance and/or
constant correction
Pleasing others instead of self
Aloft, agitated, annoyed, apathetic
“If I comply…I will eventually defy”.
* Act or process of conforming to official requirements; a
disposition of yielding to others.
Indicators of Engagement*
Owning the “how” or strategy
Contributing to the “how”
Eye contact
Sustained changed behaviors
Sense of personal energy assigned to
the task
* Observed, alert. To interlock with/mesh with; To bind oneself with a
pledge or promise; to hold the attention of or physical involvement in. To
occupy completely; to be absorbed.
Learning Styles
Keep in mind that adult learners fall into different
categories of preferred learning styles
Visual Learners: Prefer color-coding, use of pictures,
written instructions.
Auditory Learners: Prefers buzzers, clapping, sounds,
verbal instructions and praise.
Kinesthetic or Experiential Learners: Prefers to
experience things to learn them. Likes to move when
9 Potential Barriers to Learning
 Limited Learning Capacity: Some individuals have
significant limitations on how much they learn at one
time. Try “chunking” tasks – clustering 2-3 steps at a
time only. Teach with repetition.
 Processing Deficits: Some are easily distracted,
need more time for a single activity or response.
Match their pace. Slow pace. Don’t rush. Typical with
persons with a brain injury.
 Short Attention Span: Some are easily distracted
and can’t focus for extended time periods. Be
prepared to have several different activities to do.
Break activities into multiple sessions.
More Potential Barriers to Learning
 Difficulty in Seeing Cause& Effect Some
individuals can’t grasp the concept that “If I do this,
then this other thing will or will not happen.” Don’t
count on them making the connection! Use visuals and
sight cues between steps. Role play.
 Outer-Directed focus Some feel that they have no
control over their lives. Their motivation is to
follow.Teach decision-making in little steps. Point to
areas they DO have control.
 Inability to Abstract Concepts, symbols, or
Generalized abstractions can be difficult to understand.
Use concrete examples. Teach in “real world” settings.
Role model and relate concepts to the Individual’s life.
Still More Potential Barriers to Learning
 Limited Environmental Interaction : Because of a lack
of past experience, a Individual may exhibit a lack of skills &
confidence. Praise the Individual often! Take them out into
new experiences as much as possible. Use every interaction
and experience to encourage the use of all their senses and
 Poor Self-Concept Sometimes Individuals have such a poor
self-concept that they don’t believe they can do anything. Their
motivation is low and they have a lot of fear of new things.
Help them see the progress they are making in little things.
Remind him or her of their successes.
 Short Memory Span
Some things are not easily
retained – even recent things! Repeat, repeat, repeat! Label
everything! Use visual cues. Ask the individual to repeat back to
you what was said.
Therapeutic Interventions
Avoid the “Bait and Switch”
Identify relevant goals
Identify their comfort zone – lead baby steps
outside it
Premack Principle
Embedding relevant choices
Reflection and raising personal awareness
Use “I feel” instead of “ You”
In conclusion
• The Change Cycle affects everyone so it helps to notice
where an individual may be within the change process.
• We are wanting to achieve Engagement instead of
Compliance so that change can be sustained.
• Learning Styles and Learning Barriers impact one’s
ability to achieve engagement. This requires us to:
• Identify the best strategy which leverages their
learning style and minimizes barriers.
• Create and use teachable moments often & regularly.