Getting started with telehealth for early intervention: Learning modules

Intervention for interfering behavior

Many children engage in some forms of interfering behavior.

When we discussed assessing interfering behavior during Module 3: Assessment, we discussed how your provider will look for patterns in the context, antecedent, and consequences in the environment when interfering behaviors occur.

Your provider will work with you to make an individualized intervention plan for what to do to prevent and improve the interfering behaviors that may occur with your child.

In Module 3, we showed you what examples of a C-ABC chart may be. Below, we now show you what intervention steps may be used to support across these different situations.

This plan will likely include strategies in the areas described, such as follows:

  1. Context
  2. Antecedent
  3. Alternative behavior
  4. Consequence

Strategies to lessen the impact of context on the interfering behavior, such as starting the session with easier tasks or longer free play times on mornings that the parent reports the child did not sleep well, or taking frequent breaks for snacks if the child appears to get hungry in the afternoon.

Proactive strategies to encourage the child to use the alternative behavior (described next) and to help them be most successful. Strategies could include using a visual schedule to indicate when there is going to be an unexpected change in routine, or a timer to show the child how long they need to wait for their favorite show to come on, or having an alternative activity present for difficult transitions (such as the parent having a fanny pack with some favorite activities, like a puppet or cool wand, to use while transitioning back home from the park).

The most important thing is that the provider will work with you to determine an alternative behavior that your child can use to get their needs met, instead of the interfering behavior. This alternative behavior may be your child asking to “take a break” or be “all done” with an activity that they do not like, or gesturing to indicate that they would like a turn with a favorite toy that their sibling has. You and your provider will work with your child to learn this alternative behavior and you will make sure that your child receives what they are asking for when they use the alternative behavior.

As indicated above, when your child uses the alternative behavior, you will make sure that they can receive what they are asking for. As they are learning the alternative behavior, you will help them by prompting them to use the alternative behavior, and then you will provide them with what they are asking for. For example, if there is a show that comes on that your child does not like and usually they begin to scream and kick the wall. You will help them practice to hand you the remote or a card that says “different show,” and once they do this alternative behavior with you, you will turn on a different show for them.