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Speech in the Schools

Behavior Management Through Adventure

Published December 21, 2011 9:03 AM by Valerie Lill

Back at the start of the school year, I had mentioned four new therapy approaches I was trying this year.  About a month ago I talked about one of them -- my use of adapted story books to build early literacy skills in students with moderate to severe disabilities.  In today's blog, I will talk about a second one.

I spend most of my blogging discussing my work at the elementary level, as that is where I spend the majority of my time; however, I also work at a middle school, exclusively with students in the autism support classes. 

These students are all verbal and have varying social language skills, abilities and needs. I provide both direct and consultative social language intervention for these students. Many of these students demonstrate targeted skills in isolated, contrived contexts (i.e., the speech office) but continue to have difficulty with carryover and generalization to settings outside of my office. 

Both autism support teachers, many of the paraprofessionals assigned to students in this placement, the occupational therapist and the autism consultant at my middle school have attended multiple trainings using the "Behavior Management Through Adventure" program, which I will refer to as BMTA throughout the rest of this blog (the students also know the program by its acronym).  

Click here for more information (apparently since my district's staff was trained, the program title was changed to "Building Respectful Learning Communities," however the principles remain the same). 

Once I found out the ideals of the program taught through the "Full Value Contract," I realized that so much of what this program teaches correlates well with many of the social language concepts I had been working on in my pull-out groups (I use a lot of the work of Michelle Garcia Winner).  

The parts of the "Full Value Contract" are:  Be Here. Be safe.  Set goals. Care for self and others. Let go and move on. The contract is posted both in the autism support classroom and my speech office.

This year, the autism support team decided to combine social language skills within a BMTA group for our 8th graders. Students in the program attend BMTA group twice per six-day cycle during their flex period. I am a member of the group once per cycle along with the regular participants -- the students, the autism support consultant, the autism support teacher, the occupational therapist and any paraprofessionals in the program who are with the students during flex. 

Each cycle, the autism support consultant chooses an activity based on one part of the "Full Value Contract." Although I'm not familiar with the activities (since I was not a part of the BMTA trainings), prior to our group day, the consultant lets me know the name and purpose of the activity and offers suggestions of targeted social language skills based on her knowledge of the activity.  

At the start of our "group-taught" BMTA group, I preview with the students the targeted social language skills for the session so they know what I expect them to do during the activity. I also incorporate social language concepts and terminology during my interactions with the students throughout the activities.  

Some examples:

  • If the group is working on "care for self and others," I might review the steps of perspective -- taking and talk about how they need to use these skills in the activities.
  • If we're working on "let go and move on," we might talk about the size of a problem and the expected reactions to it.

Many of the BMTA activities involve working together and discussing feelings in a "game" like format that is fun for both the student and adult participants. This year we've done activities with unique titles such as "Moon Ball," "Mass Pass," and "Chicken Baseball."  I've learned not to wear a skirt or heels on BMTA days as all members of the group are expected to be active participants -- including the SLP!

My biggest challenge with this new intervention technique has been addressing students' social language goals within the group and data collection (hard to do when you're throwing and running after rubber chickens!) though it has become easier in the last three months. I think it is a great way to promote carryover and for the students to understand that the terminology and concepts being taught in the "speech office" apply and can be used elsewhere. 

I realize that many of you have never heard of this program, nor will you ever use this program; however, the ideals of the program and the way in which we're providing intervention for the students can be applied in any setting. I know more and more SLPs are getting out of the speech office and into the classroom, and I encourage that. It's a change of mindset for many of us, but is very valuable for our students. 

I'd love to hear from readers who are doing any sort of co-taught or push-in services to address social language skills for adolescents and teens. What approaches/techniques are you using to promote carryover with your students? What works? What hasn't worked? What challenges have you faced?  Let us know here or through the ADVANCE Facebook page!


In my last two blogs I talked about the use of games in school-based speech-language therapy. Over the

August 14, 2013 11:02 AM

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About this Blog

    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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