Behaviour Intervention Planning (BIP)
Purpose and Background: Team Thinking Process
In the team planning session, there was a great deal of discussion regarding Jim, his experiences, his behaviours, and the causes or purposes of these behaviours. In Jim's case, there were two meetings that occurred before the team could begin to develop a Behaviour Intervention Plan. Extensive discussion occurred regarding the purpose of the plan. Background information was given with hesitation and it was critical that the stage be set around the importance of information sharing at the first meeting. The school psychologist and CFS social worker met with Jim's mother, Mrs. Sommers, between meetings to discuss Jim's history and home issues. They then discussed how the pertinent information would be shared with the overall team. This was done as part of the process at the next meeting.
Safety of students was a critical issue of the school. Some parents had called the principal regarding safety concerns for their child. Accordingly, safety was the first issue presented and the discussion could have bogged down at this point until it was expanded to address what the team wanted for Jim. The family had lived in the community for a number of years and was likely to continue living there. There were two younger siblings who would become part of the school and an older sister who was doing quite well. The team believed that Jim wanted to be a part of the school community even though his behaviour sometimes pushed away other students. Other students had not given up on Jim and he was still chosen for teams. He had good athletic ability and some positive peer status, although a number of students were afraid of him.
For this reason the purpose was defined as follows:
"To have Jim develop sufficient social skills and self control to gain positive acceptance and support from his peer group." A further statement "that this needs to be done with careful regard for the safety of other students" was required by the principal to ensure that the importance of student safety was not overlooked.
Mr. Sommers, Jim's father, left the family when Jim was still quite young. He and Jim spent much time together although it is possible that he may have hurt Jim on a few occasions when drunk. He could be quite violent when drunk and Mrs. Sommers often took the brunt of the anger. Mrs. Sommers went to live with her parents for a short while but Jim, who was always rambunctious, was particularly difficult to handle at this time. He and his grandfather, who was a strong disciplinarian, had a number of confrontations and, on one occasion, Jim was accidentally injured. Jim had to go to the hospital and police were involved but no charges were laid. It was shortly after this that Mrs. Sommers arranged with Family Services to live on her own. Jim has since refused any contact with his grandfather and has never had any contact with his father.
It should be noted that both Jim's father and grandfather were quite vocal when they became aggressive. When Jim hears a loud voice, his face quickly turns red and he is likely to become quite uncommunicative and, if approached, very oppositional. Pushing issues at these times may lead to a teacher-student confrontation. However, ignoring them often leads to a student-student confrontation on the playground. It is as if the volume connects him to old memories that he is unable to shake. Outbursts that occur have the feeling of pushing people away. The team wondered if Jim is pushing them away so he will feel safe or pushing them away from some serious internal feelings connected with the event.
Jim was always active and negative behaviours were quite difficult to correct. His actions were impulsive; he would often do things without thinking. In the early years, he would feel sorry for this but lately he does not show any concern or remorse. This lack of remorse is particularly noticeable when events occur like being sent home, or when mom has to work overtime.
Jim has become increasingly out of control at times, has damaged the house, and hurt his younger brother. He usually doesn't damage his own toys or items that he uses such as the TV. Mrs. Sommers is not able to stop him when he get in one of his "destructive moods". His behaviour was not as severe when he started school but has also become increasingly worse.
It has been discovered through the school that Jim has ADHD. He responds positively to Ritalin. The medication does not help during highly stressful times but it does seem to give Jim some additional control over impulsive behaviours in low-stress situations.
School has not been a positive experience for Jim. Problem behaviours are most likely to occur in school during unstructured times. Although good at athletics, Jim often gets into trouble while playing contact sports. It is as if the physical contact triggers old memories. He returns the contact with sufficient force to hurt a child. For these reasons, many of Jim's problem behaviours occur during recess times and lunch hours, both of which are unstructured and involve contact sports. He is presently required to stay off school grounds for the entire lunch hour. He goes home during this time.
Jim has learning problems and likely a moderate learning disability in reading. He refuses to write and will become quite explosive if written work is corrected. It is difficult to get Jim to produce anything that the teacher can evaluate but particularly difficult if the product requires writing. He will refuse to do work that he thinks he cannot do and is very sensitive to any suggestion that "he needs help."
He can be quite sensitive to praise during these times and become suspicious when it is given. These experiences appear to trigger a strong sense of inadequacy. When this occurs, he is extremely vulnerable. During this time he is likely to get into conflict with children asking them "what are you looking at?" or "what makes you think you're so smart?" He won't respond well to anyone's eye contact at these times. It is as if he is afraid that someone will see his inadequacy.
On the other hand, when in a positive mood Jim makes eye contact easily and responds quickly to smiles. He has a good sense of humour and loves to engage in humorous verbal interchanges. Such interactions appear to be relationship building. He is good at sports, particularly basketball, and moves into one of these positive spaces after he has had a good game (e.g., has scored higher than anyone else and his team won). He also moves into this space when he has been helpful, although it is not always clear which came first.
Jim will often come into school mulling about events that occurred at home or on the way to school. This can also occur after recess times. Once he begins to mull on these events, he becomes quite oppositional and difficult to handle. It appears necessary for Jim to talk out such events. He has a strong sense of justice but a poor sense of events. It takes a fair amount of listening before Jim can begin to understand an event accurately and may even take longer for him to frame the events from another's viewpoint.
The relevant information for the Behaviour Intervention Plan
The following information was included in the Behaviour Intervention Plan. The team members believed that this information provided direct caregivers with the critical information needed to help Jim while respecting the need to maintain as much privacy as possible.
"Jim has had negative experiences with males in positions of trust and responds better to females. This is particularly true when he is stressed. He gets in cycles where he repeatedly mulls over perceived injustices. He becomes quite agitated and very oppositional during these times . He requires help to get himself out of these agitated states and is capable of doing this through talking. This may best be done with female staff."
The school psychologist, CFS Social Worker and Mrs. Sommers felt that this summary would provide direction to team members without having to share information that should remain private such as how Jim's father abused Jim and his mother. It also gave Mrs. Sommers the opportunity to share not only a problem that was developed at home, but a solution.
"Jim has ADHD and has a general pattern of responding poorly to unstructured situations. He does respond positively to Ritalin but this only helps on low stress days. Jim can misinterpret other's behaviours and their intent. Volume can trigger anger reactions. Jim can misinterpret eye contact and frowns as challenging behaviour when he is feeling vulnerable. He becomes quite uncooperative during these times, sometimes withdrawing into himself and sometimes exploding for no apparent reason. However, the explosion does serve to keep people away."
The team believed that the importance of structure could not be overstated and should clearly be included. They also thought it was important to know the triggers that set Jim off and eliminate them whenever possible. They concluded that the function of Jim's extreme behaviours was to push people away and that this needed to be taken into account in his programming.
"Schoolwork is particularly difficult for Jim. He has clear areas of weakness that will be addressed in the I.E.P. However, this problem is further exacerbated by Jim's underlying sense of inadequacy and corresponding fear that he will be 'found out'. Assisting Jim in learning academic skills is hampered by his need to hide his weaknesses. On the other hand, Jim has a fine sense of humour and loves to banter verbally. Eye contact is quite possible during these times. This positive state is often noticed after he has had a good game (he is an excellent basketball player) or after he has helped someone (e.g., helping a younger child in trouble)."
The teaching staff believed that people should be aware of Jim's vulnerability in the academic setting. They also wanted people to know he had gifts as well as difficulties.