Behavior Assessment, Plans, and Positive Supports

By — National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities
Updated on Feb 17, 2011

NICHCY is pleased to connect you with sources of information for helping children who have behavior challenges. This particular Connections page is one of many focusing on behavior issues. That's because "behavior" is such a huge topic. We've divided the subject up into separate pages to make digesting it more manageable! The separate behavior pages are as follows:

If you want all of these separate pages rolled up into one resource you can print out, photocopy, and share with others, we've combined them all into: Behavior: The Works.

This Connections page focuses on Behavioral Assessment, Plans, and Positive Supports. Without a doubt, a critical first step in addressing problem behavior is determining why the student is exhibiting the behavior. To do so, a behavior assessment must generally be conducted. Only when more is known about the cause or causes of the student's behavior can appropriate positive supports be identified and provided.

The list below isn't intended to be exhaustive of the behavior resources available---it's ever-growing. We'll be adding to this page constantly, so check back often to see what's new!

Behavior as Communication

  • Behavior serves a purpose.
    The Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice (CECP) offers a number of family briefs on behavior, but if you want to know more about how behavior is a form of communication and why some children choose inappropriate behaviors as a way of communicating, try CECP's brief called Functional Communication Training to Promote Positive Behavior. A natural follow-up is CECP's brief called Planned Ignoring as an Intervention Strategy for Parents and Family Members.
  • What are children trying to tell us?
    What Works briefs from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning summarize effective practices for supporting children's social-emotional development and preventing challenging behaviors. This 4-pager talks about functional behavior assessment and how it's used to figure out the purpose or function of a child's problem behavior--in effect, what the child is trying to say. Spanish version is available at:
  • Is this behavior normal, a phase, a development issue, or something more serious?
    Family members and teachers may see a range of behaviors out of children and still not be sure if a particular behavior they're seeing indicates a childhood behavior disorder. Visit Medline Plus's page, which connects with various resources to help you decide, including Development and Behavior; You and Your Child's Behavior; Children's Threats: When Are They Serious?; and specific aspects, such as aggressive behavior; children who won't go to school; conduct disorders; fighting and biting; helping the child who is expressing anger; and know when to seek help for your child.
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