Understanding Behavior Intervention Plans

Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) play a crucial role in supporting individuals, particularly children diagnosed with autism, in managing challenging behaviors. These plans provide a structured approach to address specific behaviors and promote positive change. Let's explore the importance of behavior goals and the components of a BIP.

Importance of Behavior Goals

Behavior goals are an essential component of a BIP. They outline the desired outcomes and provide a clear focus for intervention strategies. Best practice suggests that when targeting a decrease in challenging behavior, it is equally important to develop goals that target an increase in desired behavior. This approach ensures a balanced and comprehensive approach to behavior change.

Behavior goals serve as a foundation for progress monitoring. They allow the IEP (Individualized Education Program) team to measure and track the student's progress over time. Well-written goals provide a roadmap for the school team to determine next steps and make informed decisions regarding interventions and support.

To ensure the effectiveness of behavior goals, they should follow the S.M.A.R.T format. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This format ensures that goals are specific, measurable, realistic, aligned with the student's needs, and time-bound [1]. By setting clear and attainable behavior goals, the team can track progress and make data-driven decisions.

Components of a BIP

A Behavior Intervention Plan consists of several key components that guide the development and implementation of strategies. These components include:

  • Identifying Information: This section includes details about the student, such as their name, age, grade level, and other relevant information.
  • Goal: The goal section outlines the specific behavior(s) that the plan aims to address. It should be clear, concise, and aligned with the behavior goals established for the student.
  • Target Behavior Definition: This component provides a detailed description of the behavior targeted for change. It includes observable and measurable criteria to ensure consistency and accuracy in tracking progress.
  • Hypothesized Function: Understanding the function or purpose of the behavior is crucial for developing effective interventions. This section explores the underlying reasons behind the behavior, such as escape, attention-seeking, sensory stimulation, or access to desired items.
  • Antecedent Interventions: Antecedent interventions focus on modifying the environment or altering conditions before the targeted behavior occurs. These strategies aim to prevent the occurrence of the behavior by addressing triggers or establishing appropriate alternatives.
  • Replacement Behaviors: This component identifies alternative behaviors that serve the same function as the challenging behavior. Teaching and reinforcing these replacement behaviors help the individual meet their needs in a more appropriate way.
  • Consequent Interventions: Consequent interventions involve providing specific consequences following the occurrence of the target behavior. These consequences can include reinforcement for desired behavior and appropriate consequences for challenging behavior.
  • Response to Target Behavior: This section outlines how teachers, staff, and caregivers should respond when the target behavior occurs. It includes strategies for de-escalation, redirection, and support to help the individual regain control and engage in more appropriate behavior.

By incorporating these components into a comprehensive BIP, educators and caregivers can effectively address challenging behaviors and promote positive change in individuals with autism. The collaborative efforts of the entire team are crucial for successful implementation, regular review, and adjustments to ensure the plan remains effective [2].

Understanding the importance of behavior goals and the components of a BIP lays the foundation for creating effective plans that support individuals in achieving their full potential.

Developing Behavior Goals

Developing behavior goals is a crucial step in creating an effective Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). These goals provide a clear direction for intervention strategies and help track progress over time. Two essential components of developing behavior goals are using the SMART goal format and collecting baseline data.

SMART Goal Format

Behavior goals in a BIP should follow the SMART format to ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This format provides a framework for creating goals that are clear, concise, and actionable. The components of a SMART goal are as follows:

  • Specific: The goal should be well-defined and focused on a specific behavior or skill. It should answer the questions of what, why, and how.
  • Measurable: The goal should be quantifiable, allowing for objective measurement of progress. This can be achieved by using specific criteria or data collection methods.
  • Attainable: The goal should be realistic and achievable within a given timeframe. It should take into account the individual's abilities and resources.
  • Relevant: The goal should be relevant to the individual's needs and aligned with the overall objective of the intervention. It should address the targeted behavior directly.
  • Time-bound: The goal should have a specific timeframe for completion. This helps create a sense of urgency and provides a deadline for monitoring progress.

By following the SMART format, behavior goals become more tangible and actionable, guiding the development of effective intervention strategies.

Baseline Data Collection

Baseline data collection is an essential step in developing behavior goals. This process involves gathering information about the individual's current performance or behavior before implementing any interventions. Baseline data provides a benchmark against which progress can be measured.

When developing behavior goals, baseline data should be collected on the behavior or skill targeted by the goal. This data helps establish a starting point and provides valuable insights into the individual's current abilities or behavioral patterns. It can be collected through direct observation, interviews, checklists, or other appropriate data collection methods.

Accurate and thorough baseline data collection is crucial for creating meaningful behavior goals. It helps identify the specific areas that need improvement and informs the selection of appropriate intervention strategies. By understanding the individual's current level of performance or behavior, interventions can be tailored to their specific needs.

Remember, when developing behavior goals, it is best practice to include both goals targeting a decrease in behavior as well as goals targeting an increase in desired behavior. This balanced approach allows for a comprehensive intervention plan that focuses on replacing problem behavior with positive alternatives.

In the next section, we will explore the importance of conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and how it contributes to the development of behavior goals.

Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)

A crucial step in developing an effective Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). The FBA is a process that helps professionals understand the functions or purposes of a child's problem behaviors in a school setting. By identifying the underlying causes of these behaviors, the FBA guides the development of an appropriate and individualized BIP.

Purpose of FBA

The purpose of an FBA is to assess the functions or reasons behind a child's problem behaviors in school. It helps professionals understand why a child is engaging in these behaviors and how they may be interfering with the child's learning. By gaining insight into the functions of the behaviors, educators and behavior specialists can develop targeted strategies to address them effectively [3].

During an FBA, the professional conducting the assessment observes the child in the classroom and gathers information from family members, teachers, and other adults who interact with the child. This comprehensive approach allows for a more accurate understanding of the behaviors and their underlying functions.

Conducting an FBA

To conduct an FBA, professionals with training and experience in behavioral psychology, such as clinical social workers or psychologists, are typically involved. The process involves several steps:

  • Gathering Information: Information is collected from multiple sources, including interviews with teachers, parents, and other adults who interact with the child. This helps create a comprehensive picture of the child's behavior and any patterns or triggers associated with it.
  • Direct Observation: The professional conducting the FBA observes the child in the classroom setting. This allows for firsthand observation of the behaviors and an understanding of the antecedents (what happens immediately before the behavior) and consequences (what happens immediately after the behavior).
  • Data Collection: Data is collected to record the frequency, duration, and intensity of the problem behaviors. This data helps identify any patterns or trends that may be associated with the functions of the behaviors.
  • Functional Analysis: While an FBA helps develop a hypothesis about the functions of the behaviors, it is important to note that it is not the same as a Functional Analysis (FA). An FA is a more controlled and rigorous procedure that demonstrates control over the behavior and provides reliable results. However, an FBA allows professionals to develop hypotheses about the maintaining variables.

By conducting an FBA, professionals can gain valuable insight into the functions of a child's problem behaviors and develop targeted strategies to address them effectively. This information is then used to create a comprehensive and individualized Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) that focuses on promoting positive behaviors and reducing challenging ones.

Creating Effective BIPs

To ensure the effectiveness of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), it is essential to incorporate proactive and reactive strategies, as well as set SMART goals.

Proactive and Reactive Strategies

A well-designed BIP includes both proactive and reactive strategies to prevent and manage behaviors, respectively. Proactive strategies focus on teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors to reduce the occurrence of problem behaviors. These strategies are tailored to the functions of the child's problem behavior, aiming to teach them more appropriate ways to meet their needs [3].

Reactive strategies, on the other hand, are employed in response to problem behavior and aim to minimize the impact of challenging behaviors. These strategies involve specific interventions that help redirect the child's behavior towards more appropriate alternatives. By utilizing a combination of proactive and reactive strategies, a BIP can effectively address challenging behaviors and promote positive change.

SMART Goals in BIPs

SMART goals play a crucial role in Behavior Intervention Plans. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These goals are based on the child's progress during the assessment period and aim to reduce the support needed for appropriate behavior over time [3].

When setting SMART goals, it is important to make them specific and clearly defined. For example, instead of setting a goal to "improve behavior," a more specific goal would be to "reduce instances of hitting during playtime by 50% within two weeks." This allows for clear measurement and tracking of progress.

Goals should also be measurable, allowing for objective assessment of the child's behavior. This can be done by quantifying the behavior, such as counting the number of times a behavior occurs within a specific timeframe.

Achievability is another key aspect of SMART goals. Goals should be realistic and attainable based on the child's current abilities. Setting overly challenging goals may lead to frustration and lack of progress.

Relevance is crucial in ensuring that goals align with the child's individual needs and priorities. Goals should directly address the target behavior and focus on areas that have a significant impact on the child's daily life.

Lastly, goals should be time-bound, meaning they have a specific timeframe in which they are expected to be achieved. This allows for regular monitoring and adjustment of the BIP based on the child's progress.

By incorporating proactive and reactive strategies, as well as setting SMART goals, a Behavior Intervention Plan can effectively address problem behaviors and promote positive change in children diagnosed with autism. Remember, BIPs are fluid and dynamic, requiring regular review and adjustments to ensure their ongoing effectiveness.

Implementing BIPs

Once a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) has been developed, it is crucial to implement it effectively to support positive behavioral changes. Implementing a BIP requires a collaborative approach and ongoing tracking of progress.

Collaborative Approach

Implementing a BIP involves a collaborative effort among all adults who interact with the child, including parents, teachers, and other professionals. This collaborative approach ensures consistency and reinforces the targeted behaviors across various settings, such as home and school. By working together, the adults can support the child in generalizing the desired behaviors and maximizing the effectiveness of the BIP.

Regular communication among the team members is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the strategies and techniques being used. Sharing observations, successes, and challenges helps to refine the BIP and make necessary adjustments. The team can also provide support and guidance to one another, fostering a unified and supportive environment for the child.

Tracking Progress

Tracking progress is a critical component of implementing a BIP. Daily tracking allows for ongoing evaluation of the child's behavior and the effectiveness of the intervention strategies. Tools such as checklists, charts, and report cards can be used to document and monitor the child's progress over time. This tracking helps identify patterns, trends, and areas that may require further attention or modification in the BIP.

It is important to review the progress regularly, typically on a monthly basis, to assess the effectiveness of the BIP. During these reviews, the team can discuss the data collected, analyze any challenges or setbacks, and identify areas of improvement. This collaborative review process allows for adjustments and refinements to be made to the BIP based on new information or the changing needs of the child.

If a BIP is not yielding the desired results, it may be necessary to reassess the plan. Factors such as incorrect identification of the function of the behavior or changes in the child's needs should be considered. By continuously tracking progress and reviewing the effectiveness of the BIP, the team can ensure that the intervention strategies remain relevant and effective.

Implementing a BIP requires ongoing dedication and flexibility. It is a dynamic process that requires collaboration, open communication, and a commitment to tracking progress. By working together and regularly reviewing the BIP, the team can make necessary adjustments and provide the support needed to help the child achieve behavioral goals.

Enhancing BIP Effectiveness

To maximize the effectiveness of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), it is important to continuously evaluate and make necessary adjustments. Two key aspects of enhancing the effectiveness of BIPs include identifying mismatches and conducting regular reviews and adjustments.

Identifying Mismatches

One reason why BIPs may not work effectively is due to mismatches between the identified behavior and the strategies implemented. It is crucial to accurately identify the underlying reasons behind the behavior in order to design appropriate interventions. Assuming a student is misbehaving for one reason when it's actually another reason can lead to ineffective interventions. By conducting a thorough functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and analyzing the data collected, professionals can gain insights into the function and triggers of the behavior, allowing for more accurate intervention strategies.

Regular communication and collaboration between parents, educators, and behavior specialists play a key role in identifying these mismatches. Sharing observations and insights can help uncover potential discrepancies and refine the intervention strategies accordingly. It is essential to maintain an open and ongoing dialogue to ensure the effectiveness of the BIP.

Regular Review and Adjustments

Another reason why BIPs may fail is when plans become outdated and are not reviewed or adjusted as needed. It is crucial for schools and families to regularly assess the effectiveness of the plan and make necessary modifications to ensure its relevance and success. As a child's needs, behaviors, and environment can change over time, the BIP should be reviewed on a periodic basis to ensure its continued effectiveness.

During the review process, relevant data should be collected and analyzed to assess the progress made and determine the need for adjustments. This data may include direct observations, data from behavior tracking tools, and input from teachers and parents. Based on the information gathered, modifications can be made to the strategies, goals, or supports provided in the BIP. These adjustments should be made collaboratively, taking into consideration the input and expertise of all involved parties.

By regularly reviewing and adjusting the BIP, professionals can ensure that it remains aligned with the individual's needs and continues to address the targeted behaviors effectively. This ongoing evaluation and adaptation are essential for the long-term success of the BIP.

Remember, the goal of a BIP is to support positive behavior change and provide individuals with the tools and strategies they need to succeed. By identifying mismatches and conducting regular reviews and adjustments, the effectiveness of the BIP can be enhanced, leading to improved outcomes for individuals receiving intervention.


[1]: https://www.pent.ca.gov/bi/overview/behavior-goals.aspx

[2]: https://masteraba.com/behavior-plan/

[3]: https://childmind.org/article/what-is-a-behavior-intervention-plan/

[4]: https://www.understood.org/en/articles/behavior-intervention-plans-what-you-need-to-know