Tantrums tackled for caregivers at Challenging Children workshop

2 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Miranda Blackburn

During a challenging Children workshop held at the Russell Marine and Family Services Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, parents, educators and social workers joined together to learn to use applied behavior analysis to address tantrum behaviors, Oct. 25.

Rachel Kolb and Anne Stull, behavior analysts with the May Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Jacksonville, N.C. focused on defining the undesired behavior, its function and how it can be changed.

"We cannot accurately determine when, where, how often, or why a behavior occurs unless we are clear on what that behavior looks like," Stull said. "Without being able to determine these things, we cannot work to change the behavior."

To determine the function of the behavior or why it is a child is acting in a particular way, caregivers first need to take notes on how often, when and where it occurs and what typically happens after the behavior occurs.

"Applying an intervention that is not based on the function of behavior will not be effective and may reinforce (it), increasing the likelihood that it will occur in the future," Stull said.

Different functions include gaining attention, escape from demand, access to tangibles and automatic reinforcement. Kolb went over both antecedent and consequential interventions for each function.

"Antecedent interventions are used before the tantrum occurs and prevents (it) from occurring," Kolb said. "Consequential interventions are used after the tantrum occurs and decreases the tantrum behavior from occurring in the future."

Kolb stressed that pairing themselves with reinforcement and engaging their children with appropriate, preferred activities is the most important thing for caregivers to remember for every type of intervention and reminded class attendants that behavior does not change overnight. Often inappropriate behaviors get worse before they get better.

"Don't give up," she added. "Applying interventions for tantrum behaviors may be more work in the present but will be worth it in the future." Along with providing free services to families on base, the May Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders offers a comprehensive set of educational and behavioral services to children and their families, private agencies and public schools throughout the area.

Working closely with the families they serve, the behavior specialist use developmentally appropriate practices based on applied behavior analysis, the methodology universally recognized as critical for teaching children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders or other behavioral or developmental disabilities.

Their state-of-the-art programming addresses all areas of a child's development including language, peer interactions and behavior.

For more information on upcoming Challenging Children workshops, call 451-4103.