Not only are instructional strategies important, but also managing behavior is equally important. Using a positive behavioral system is the most effective strategy to use in the traditional classroom (Anderson et al., 2009). When a positive behavioral system is coupled with an intervention, emotionally disabled students will ordinarily become more successful when compared to students without a positive behavioral system with intervention (Lewis et al., 2008).
Adolphson et al. (2010) understands that teachers have a greater knowledge of behavioral management strategies than paraprofessionals do. The study conducted by Adolphson et al (2010) concluded that paraprofessionals who are trained are more supportive of students with emotional disabilities in the general education classroom. The paraprofessionals who were trained were also more effective in controlling disruptive behavior and were more confident in their ability to make a difference in the child’s future.
Burke et al. (2010) focused on the consistency between behavioral intervention at school and home. The child is more likely to be successful in a general education classroom if the expectations of behavior and reinforcements are the same between home and school. This included the parent completing check lists at home and communicating on a weekly basis with the teacher. The students that participated in the study were students in a preschool setting and were expelled from school. Burke et al (2010) created a day treatment center to rehabilitate the children. Once the child could re enter school, the researchers trained the teacher and followed up with the families after six months. The results supported the idea of a strong home and school relationship.
A meta-analysis was completed by Chun et al (2009) the examined the link between direct early behavioral interventions and preventative programs at the school wide level. The differences between interventions and preventative programs are the preventative programs use behavioral management strategies that prevent a certain behavior from occurring and interventions focus on correcting a behavior that has already occurred. The researchers found that both preventative programs and intervention programs were equally effective.. Prevention is a long term solution and intervention is a short term solution to the problem of problematic behavior. The behaviors that reduced the most were externalizing behaviors, such as verbal and physical aggression, refusal to comply and completing assignments. The students who reduced the amount of disruptive behaviors also increased their scores in math and reading.
Nahgahgwon et al. (2010) completed a study for children that were at risk for an emotional disability or conduct disorders in the early childhood setting (Preschool, Kindergarten or First grade). Children who were selected had clinically significant scores for attention, conduct problems, hyperactivity, poor social skills or difficulty with adaptability. The children were given early intervention treatments and showed an increase in all areas of difficulty. This study correlates with the findings from Chun et al (2009), which suggests that intervention programs are effective for students displaying conduct difficulties in a general education classroom. Chun et al (2009) did not limit his study to only early childhood programs, but Nahgahgwon et al. (2010) showed strong evidence that even preschoolers can learn appropriate social skills in the general education classroom. If students receive intervention sooner, they can benefit from more instructional time as they reach higher grade levels.
Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems (PBIS) has increased in popularity throughout school districts across the United States. Jeffery et al (2009) tested the effectiveness of this school wide program with students diagnosed with emotional disabilities. Participants ranged from elementary to middle school and included a self contained room, as well as several general education classrooms. The results showed initial growth, but not sustained growth. PBIS is a great system to use as a preventative program, but not intervention for emotionally disabled students.
Burke et al (2010) disagrees with Jeffery et al (2009) and Adolphson (2010) in the use of preventative and intervention programs only at school. The use of the programs at home would significantly increase the likelihood of success, but maintaining a program with substantive interventions at home would be difficult. Nahgahgwon et al (2010) concludes all intervention and preventative programs are important to the development of the emotionally disabled child and should be included in all school programs with children who are emotionally disabled.
Teacher development and training is equally important in the types of intervention and preventative programs emotionally disabled children receive. With proper training, even paraprofessionals become a crucial member of the programs implemented in the schools (Adolphson et al, 2010). Burke et al (2010) agrees with proper training, but believes parents should be involved in the training process as well. IDEA of 2004 adds parents as an equal member of the IEP team, which is responsible for planning and implementing any programs that will assist the child in developing any skills that will increase the child’s likelihood of being successful as an adult.
Behavioral management involves many people working together, including parents, teachers and students. The research gives strong evidence to support the use of positive and consistent intervention and preventative programs, both at school and home. School personnel should be trained before implementation of any programs and parents should be fully involved in the process.