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What is a Behavior Intervention Plan? 

A behavior intervention plan or BIP is a formal written plan designed to help prevent behavior that gets in the way of your child’s learning by teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors. If your child’s behavior impedes their learning or the learning of others, the IEP team must include strategies, including positive behavioral interventions, supports, or strategies to address their behavior. If your child’s behavior that impedes their learning isn’t included in their IEP, the IEP team must review and revise the IEP to ensure that your child receives appropriate behavioral interventions, supports, or strategies. Behavior intervention plans may also be referred to as positive behavior support plans. 

Your child’s teachers, school counselor, school psychologist, or you can request a behavior intervention plan even if your child doesn’t have an IEP or 504 plan. The plan is usually written after your child’s IEP team conducts a functional behavioral assessment or FBA. The plan should list your child’s problem behaviors, describe why the behavior is happening, and put strategies, tools, and support systems in place to help your child learn alternate behaviors.

Who Writes the Behavior Intervention Plan?

You are an important part of the team responsible for writing the behavior intervention plan. You can provide valuable information to the team about when and why your child’s behaviors occur. You can also provide helpful information on strategies that you have used before at home or school and what strategies worked best. Your child’s behavior intervention plan must be written with someone who has training and experience in behavioral psychology. It could be written by a clinical social worker, clinical psychologist, board certified behavior analysist, or a trained individual depending on your state law requirements. 

What is in a Behavior Intervention Plan?

The behavior intervention plan defines the problem behavior. For example, it could define your child’s disruptive behavior such as making noises or talking to their friends during class, not completing tasks or refusing to participate in class, using disrespectful language, being physically aggressive, or any other behavior that is preventing your child from learning or preventing their peers from learning. 

Next, the plan defines the behavior goal by explaining the new skills and behaviors that will be taught. This section should explain the goals, skills, and behaviors that your child’s teacher can teach your child in place of their disruptive behavior. It will specifically give examples of how your child’s teacher will teach your child behaviors that are designed to replace the problem behavior. Examples of new skills could include things such as asking for a turn, requesting to leave a task your child doesn’t want to participate in, making a choice, requesting help, or asking for an alternate activity.

Finally, the plan explains how your child’s teacher can teach the individual skills necessary to support the new behavior. These replacement behaviors must serve the same function as your child’s negative behavior to help teach your child alternate behaviors. It will explain different ways your child’s teacher can reinforce the new behavior. This section helps your child’s teacher recognize what triggers your child’s behavior as well as what they can do and say to help teach your child new behavior.

Can a Behavior Intervention Plan be Modified?

Behavior Intervention Plans should be fluid and flexible to allow your child's IEP team to modify them as needed. Your child’s plan should be reviewed on a regular basis to prevent it from getting outdated. One of the best ways to determine if the plan is working is for your child’s teacher to track your child’s progress daily. I’d recommend going over your child’s plan monthly with your child’s school to closely monitor its effectiveness.

What’s Next?

It’s important that all of your child’s teachers and administrative staff that work with your child on a regular basis are aware of the plan. This helps implement your child’s plan and it gives your child consistency. You play an important role in your child’s IEP and their behavior intervention plan. You can do several things to help your child have a successful plan including making sure your child’s IEP team has current documentation of your child’s mental health needs such as a change of medication. You can also keep your child’s special education teacher and IEP team updated on your child’s triggers especially if you notice any changes in their triggers. You should also share any de-escalation techniques that work with your child in the home or in the community. 

Behavior intervention plans can help your child learn the skills needed to change their problem behavior into positive behavior. I highly recommend asking the school if your child’s behavior intervention plan was used any time a complaint is made about your child’s disability related behavior. If it wasn’t, ask why and keep records every time you communicate with the school. This will help you continue to advocate for your child. Remember you are your child’s biggest advocate on their best and worst days. 

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