A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a concrete written plan, based on the results of a functional assessment or a functional analysis. It is sometimes referred to as a behavior protocol or behavior treatment plan. The suggestions made in the plan target the function of the behavior (i.e., WHY the behavior is occurring) instead of the topography (what the behavior looks like). The plan should be function-based and focused on teaching positive replacement behavior that can replace the targeted challenging behavior when possible.
Having a BIP in place means that everyone can be on the same page when managing challenging behavior. Students often come into contact with many people throughout the day – therapists, teachers, family members, and other staff. In order to avoid intermittently reinforcing a negative behavior (thereby making it harder to reduce), everyone should know the defined protocol concerning the behavior.
Remember: The protocol may not always work and may need to be tweaked. The only way to know if it is working is to try it consistently and take data. If one team member decides that they don’t like the protocol and don’t implement it, or don’t collect data, we’ll never know if the plan is effective!
Get a free Behavior Intervention Plan template below!
Steps to Implement a Behavior Treatment Plan:
1. Define the Behavior
The first thing to do is to define exactly what the behavior IS and what it IS NOT so that anyone observing the behavior would come to the same conclusion. Include things like intensity, topography, location, frequency, and other important descriptions.
Use the Operational Definitions of Commonly Occurring Behaviors to help you define the behaviors of each individual student.
Good description for non-contextual vocalization:
Any instance of non-functional speech, including singing, babbling, and phrases unrelated to the present situation. E.g. “d-d-d”, “ahhhh” (with our without arm flapping), video scripts.
This does not include the gurgling sound that is produced at the back of a student’s mouth or in their throat or the slurping sound. It also does not include non-contextual laughter.
This does not include any vocalizations that occur while the student is screaming.
Good description for screaming:
High-pitched screams, lasting longer than 1 second. May or may not be accompanied by crying. Must be separated by 10 seconds of quiet to be counted as a new instance.
You could also include here any triggers or setting events that make the behavior more likely to occur.
Tip: You can include Inter-Observer Reliability here to make sure that it is well defined and tweak if necessary.
2. Give a Reason for Treatment Plan
Before intervening in any behavior, it should meet criteria that determine it is worthwhile to intervene. Note these in your BIP. This can include: interfering with learning, injury to self or others, causing damage to the environment, socially isolating the individual, and impeding independence. For more on this, see When is a Behavior Worth Targeting?
3. Choose a Data Collection Method
Before beginning any intervention, we want to have enough information on the behavior during baseline (i.e., before treatment) to know if the intervention is effective. Decide on the best way to collect data that will give over an accurate depiction of the behavior.
Some examples include:
- ABC data
- Frequency data
- Duration data
- Partial interval data
4. Hypothesize the Function
This is where you would include the information from any functional assessment or data from a functional analysis. Include the function and reason for that conclusion. Also, include any graph or measurement from the functional analysis.
5. Antecedent Strategies
This should be the focus of the intervention – teaching the student alternative ways to access reinforcement and preventing problem behavior. Some antecedent strategies are as simple as a visual schedule and some require more teaching such as teaching a student to mand for attention. The antecedent strategies should address:
- MO manipulation – making it LESS reinforcing to engage in the problem behavior (e.g.: move the child’s desk)
- Differential reinforcement procedures – introducing a skill that you will reinforce MORE than the target behavior (e.g.: reinforce appropriate attention-seeking)
6. Consequence Strategies
Once the behavior has already occurred, the team should have protocols on how to manage it. The most important part of the consequence strategy is making sure that the student and staff are safe. Then, if possible, do not provide reinforcement immediately after the challenging behavior.
Other things to include in the consequence strategies to help de-escalate the situation:
- Behavior momentum
- Ignore the behavior but not the child – redirect to the task, visual, or other
- Stay calm, block aggression
- Empathize with the child – verbalize how they feel and make them feel understood
7. Risk-Response Analysis
Define the reason and rationale for implementing a behavior plan. It should be because the benefits outweigh the risks. However, if there is any part of your behavior plan that involves risk, be sure to carefully analyze whether the risk is worthwhile.
For example, if part of the plan involves a student being removed from his classroom, potential risks involved include missing academic time and being singled out by peers. Ask yourself (and other team members) if this is worth the potential benefits.
When implementing any behavior plan, parents (or caregivers) should be informed before beginning. They should be able to have any input into aspects that they want removed or included. Then, include their signature as consent to the plan.
Free BIP Template
Ready to implement a Behavior Intervention Plan for your students? Download our free template below!