All Kinds of News for November 07, 2018
Seven Stars, a residential treatment and assessment program for teens ages 13-18 with neurodevelopmental issues, is putting the spotlight on the behavioral aspects of their therapeutic program.
“We sometimes encounter questions from parents and professionals about how ‘behavioral’ our program is and whether or not we use ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy,” says Dr. Gordon Day, Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Seven Stars. “Often, what is really being asked is whether or not punitive strategies are used. Parents and other consumers of mental health services want to make sure that their child is treated with respect and dignity.”
Recently the Seven Stars team sat down to review their daily points and feedback system. This is the “behavioral” aspect of Seven Stars used to encourage and track student progress and reward participation in experiential learning opportunities. Seven Stars’ goal is to make sure their system is effective and focused on rewarding students for positive behaviors.
Each day, students start the day in a Launch meeting where they establish a goal they want to work on for the day. Each evening in the Re-entry meeting, students review with staff their progress on the goal for the day.
Seven Stars students carry a tracking sheet with them in their student binders. For each block of activity throughout the day, the staff mark “plusses” on their tracking sheet for participating appropriately in the desired activity. Staff also note on the tracking sheet what the student is doing well and areas where the student needs to improve. The student’s total number of plusses earns access to desired activities and can be used to purchase items from the student store.
“At Seven Stars, it is our belief that using positive motivators is much more effective than using punitive approaches,” says Dr. Day. “Behavioral approaches should focus on encouraging desired behaviors through positive attention and rewards. It is often most effective to ignore unwanted behaviors rather than apply some kind of a consequence.”
Dr. Day added, “When a student does engage in unwanted behaviors that are significantly disruptive, it is important to understand the function of that behavior. Typically, the student is communicating a need with their negative behavior. Usually they are overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory issues and need a break. Sometimes they are looking for attention.”
In these situations a student is directed to take a break and “reboot.” Then staff work with the student on coping skills and communicating about their needs. Sometimes the student writes or talks through a Behavioral Chain Analysis in which they learn about their needs and generate ideas about how they can handle the situation better next time.
In addition to the daily points and feedback system, staff carry tokens in the form of paper stars. Staff give these tokens to students when they see them engaging in a positive or desired behavior. Students also use these stars to earn desired activities or items from the student store. “This random reinforcement strategy can be especially effective when students are struggling with unwanted behaviors and is very effective at redirecting the behaviors of an individual student or group of students” said Dr. Day.
About Seven Stars
Seven Stars is a leading assessment program and residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17 who struggle with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and ADHD. For more information about programming at Seven Stars, please visit http://www.discoversevenstars.com/or call 844-601-1167.