Detective Work

When therapists look at behaviors, we tend to just document the action and how often it occurs. So we might say, “Joanne hit Timothy 4 times in music therapy.” We can address the behaviors more effectively if we scout out the catalyst and surrounding circumstances.

What happened before the incident? Does Joanne hit whenever the therapist turns her attention to another student? Does she hit when Timothy looks at her? Or is she hitting when Timothy tries to grab her maraca?

What extenuating circumstances might have contributed, e.g. change in routine, meds, new baby at home, substitute teacher, or new haircut?

How did people respond when the behavior occurred? Are adults inadvertently rewarding Joanne’s hitting by fussing at her? Do all the other kids automatically turn and look at Joanne when she hits Timothy? Does Timothy’s crying fill Joanne with glee?

What happens when therapist moves Timothy out of Joanne’s reach? Does she stop hitting? Does she begin hitting the student next to her? Does she seek out Timothy to hit him again?