The Data Dilemma – It’s a Love-HateThing
The Data Dilemma – It’s a Love-HateThing
I am not a Behavior Analyst. I only play one in real life.
You see, as a parent of a child with special needs, I depend on data to drive my son’s behavior plan at school and at home.
As much as I think I am behind the steering wheel, the reality is that data drives the plan. To better understand what I am talking about, you need to put data into the context of developing a behavior plan to correct or improve a child’s activities that may impair or prohibit a student from being successful in a home or a school setting.
You need to put data into the context of developing a behavior plan to improve a child’s activities that may impair or prohibit them from being successful!
The basics of a behavior plan are broken down as follows:
- Define the problem behavior
- Devise a plan with the help of your team to collect the data
- Collect and analyze the data
- Formulate the hypothesis
- Develop and implement a behavior implementation plan
- Monitor the plan
Related: [SPECIAL ISSUE]
As I said, I am not a real Behavior Analyst; I am blessed to work with real ones who help me to do my part as coach and as parent.
I have an intense love-hate relationship with data. There are times that I am passionately and deeply obsessed with it. I just want to smother it with kisses like a love sick puppy. I celebrate how the information helps me show that my son is smart.
Too often non-verbal children are passed over as being unintelligent.
Like a religious extremist, I just want teachers and professionals to “witness” my son’s abilities. When data enables this transformation, I want to drop to my knees and scream to the choir, “Can I hear an AMEN?”
It’s a victory that becomes an addiction. I want more! I obsess about ways for my child to gain additional hallelujahs. I even begin to realize that I start to wear my mascara a bit heavier. Move over Tammy Faye Baker, heaven has not seen the furry of this mother!
Then there are the times when that data that is collected flips against me. It proves a hypothesis or a point that the plan may need to be changed. For example, I love that my son can participate in general-education settings. However, he does need the support of pull-out or ESE time. His ability to comply in the classroom setting is critical to reducing his support time.
As much as I want to see his pull-out time reduced. I also have to respect that data that shows he needs that support.
The hardest part is letting go, this involves trust. Your time line for your child and the team’s plan need to be in agreement. It is in this way that together – you make the right choice to advance your child’s success. It does not mean that you back down from being an over-involved parent. It just means that you may need to realize that your plan, God’s plan and the team’s plan may need to meet so that everyone is one the same page of meeting expectations.
It’s really hard. Below are a few practical tips I have learned about how to make all of those involved to join hands. It’s about bringing all parties to an “alter call” of success. As much as I play on the words of religion, you must have faith and a dedicated plan to make data work for you and your child’s success.
- Involve Everyone – When you identify the problem, ask teachers, friends, family members and neighbors to give input. It’s not easy because you may not want to hear what they have to say. You have to check your ego at the curb and listen. As hard as it is, their observations may have insight into correcting the behavior.
- Determine a time line: Everyone’s schedule is overloaded and time moves quickly. Laying out a timeline helps. As the parent you need to be politely pushy to make sure that everyone adheres to the plan. It’s not about micromanaging folks. The reality is that today, school personnel are responsible for a multitude of tasks that were once held by single individuals.
- Rely on Your Confidants: Denial can be a good thing in helping you to push hard at times. It can also be a hindrance to accepting the reality of your child’s disability. Develop that core team of advisors who can reel you in and deliver a reality check when you need it.
- Review the plan to collect data – does the plan
deliver data to measure the child’s ability to meet the goal?
- Graph the data: You can have stacks of it, but if you don’t graph it, you really can’t create a visual picture of where you started and how much progress has been made. At home, you can get your child to help with this as a means of reinforcing their success.
- Have a Plan B: Identify how you will adjust the plan if gains are not being met. Several times we had to readjust the plan. Progress or lack of it will require a change. Brainstorming is essential. Going back to the first point, getting the team’s input with help to lay a new path for success.
- Confirm a Communication Plan: Determine how the daily, weekly, and monthly data will be shared. If it’s a daily check sheet, make sure that you, the parent keep copies. We have found this is a wonderful way to praise our son’s progress. It is also a way to coach him or talk about the days that were less than stellar.
- No Sneak Attacks: A solid behavior plan and a consistent means of communicating the progress will insure that there are no surprises at parent conferences or when the team discusses end-of-year promotions.
- Step Aside Stage Mothers: I often joke that I am like a crazed celebrity parent. I know my child is bright and talented. I want so badly for everyone else to see my son’s talent. I confess that I often push my child to demonstrate his best.
- Have a Love-in: The reality is that I have to check my agenda. I often have to realize that my child’s development is often not measured in the same leaps and bounds as other children. As hard as I work, I just need to step back and love-up this child of mine.
- A Complete Guide on Positive Behavior Support for Children With Special Needs
- Do You Set High Expectations for Your Child with Special Needs?
- How Positive Behavior Support Can Work In A School Setting
- Why Is the Challenging Behavior Happening?
- Three Tips for Highlighting and Color-Coding Your Child’s Draft Iep
- The IEP Is Written… Now What Do I Do?
- Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting?
- How Can Parents Prepare for an Iep Meeting? (Part 1)
- The Politics of Special Education: The Information You Need Right Now
- Whether it’s Your First IEP or You’re a Pro: 10 things to Cover at the Meeting
- Is It PLEP Or PLOP? for Present Level of Performance
- Is the IEP Individualized or Cookie-Cutter?
- Is Esy (Extended School Year) for My Child?
- Talk with Me: Enhancing Communication through Natural Family Routines
- Kids Learn Communication Best through the Help of their Parents [Infographic]
- Encourage Speech & Create Yum With These Recipes for Cooking With Kids
- Embracing Your Child’s Best Ways of Learning 12 Different Ways to Learn
This post originally appeared on our May/June 2011 Magazine