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“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
-Mike Tyson

I had it all set up - I was prepared. A one-on-one session with ample activities and visuals prepared for any situation; or so I thought – and BAM. A hit to the face. All of the sudden my thoughtful, well-planned session curtailed.

This is not uncommon in special education, especially when treating children with known behaviors. One would think, speech therapy would be a breeze compared to all the demands placed in other settings. However, speech therapy can be a trying task for some. This year, I’ve experienced more behavior problems in my classroom than ever. Some I am prepared for and some I am not. Here are some tips to keep your sessions rolling smoothly.

1) Know the plan: Children with identified behavior issues typically should have a behavior plan in place. How you respond to their behaviors is EVERYTHING. An ABA therapist has taken detailed data and analyzed the behaviors thoroughly – so, know the plan ahead of time. Even a minor slip up in response can trigger a string of unwanted behaviors.

2) Consult: Do not hesitate to approach the teacher, OT, or other service providers about their techniques. They may give you some input that will be vital in the future. Get on the same page and start using similar language, approaches, and strategies. This way, you are consistent across all environments.

3) Be prepared: Once you have figured out what works in other settings, get prepared to implement it in your speech room. If that means moving things around to barricade the door, setting up a barrier between the student and yourself, or having a visual schedule ready, then do it! It may be as easy as setting up expectations for your sessions and rewarding with a sticker chart. Whatever works!

4) Find their motivation: You cannot physically make a student work. So be clever. Find something…anything…that will motivate your students. Get creative and think outside of the box.

5) Don’t be afraid to seek HELP: Sometimes, we can pull all of our tricks out of the bag and still nothing works. The truth is, if you are having problems, you are most likely not alone. Collaborate with the team and include the behavior task force. In my experiences, they are always happy to come observe a session to give some pointers or revisit the behavior plan.

What do you do in your speech room that helps your control and maintain good behavior?

Lacee Johnson
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