The Behavior Code Companion: … Supporting Students With Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors by Jessica Minahan

The Behavior Code Companion: … Supporting Students With Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors by Jessica Minahan

The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students With Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors by Jessica Minahan is another excellent guide book for educators! This guide book compliments the first book that Jessica Minahan co-authored with Nancy Rappaport, MD, The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students.

In the first book, the authors focus on the four most challenging students in our classrooms: students with anxiety-related, oppositional, withdrawn, and sexualized behaviors. In The Behavior Code Companion you find additional and updated interventions for two of these groups: children with anxiety-related and oppositional behavior.  Both  books concentrate on strategies for the K-6 grade levels; however, teachers and parents of older children will benefit from these books also.

In my review of The Behavior Code, I wrote, “From cover to cover I felt Minahan and Rappaport were speaking to me, an elementary teacher and a mom with a child with special needs. I felt they knew me, and knew those students who kept me awake at night. Teachers, this book is written by authors who KNOW what our jobs are like, “The pressures faced by classroom teachers today are staggering. These professionals face rigorous curriculum demands, time-consuming literacy and math blocks, standardized testing practice and instruction, full inclusion of students with special needs, meetings consuming preparation time, and parent meetings and other interactions, just to name a few pressures. Add one disruptive, possibly explosive student to the mix, and the teacher is now also responsible for squeezing in all the components of a behavioral plan for one student.”

Why The Behavior Code Companion?

<< Jessica Minahan says, “Since the publication of The Behavior Code, I have been giving workshops and seminars and working as a consultant to districts across the country. This gave me a chance to see which interventions were more difficult for educators to implement and to understand where sticking points most often occur.

Considering the feedback from teachers, psychologists, special educators, school leaders, and parents, there is high demand for additional guidance in delivering interventions for students  K-6 with anxiety-related and oppositional behavior. I’ve written The Behavior Code Companion to give school teams the additional interventions and implementation guidelines they have been asking for.

The Behavior Code Companion provides additional interventions that were not included in the first book, among them, ways to assess student progress, mitigate the effects of a student’s anxious thinking, engage students in learning which interventions work for them, assess correct implementations of interventions, and how use of the protocols keeps a student safe in a crisis.”

The Behavior Code Companion’s Target Audience

The Behavior Code Companion is mostly for classroom teachers, but it is useful to all who are supporting students in the classroom like school psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, mental health professionals, special education teachers, school administrators, classroom assistants or aides.  Parents of children with anxiety-related and oppositional behavior would also benefit from this book.

About Their Behavior Intervention Plans – FAIR Plans Jessica Minahan co-authored with Nancy Rappaport, MD, The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students.

Based on the success of the previous book, author Jessica Minahan has written this companion guide for educators seeking additional guidance for creating and implementing successful behavior intervention plans (“FAIR Plans”).

In the first book, The Behavior Code, we were introduced to their behavior intervention plan the FAIR Plan and its four elements and it is also promoted in the second book.

  • Functional hypothesis of behavior where teachers document behaviors and make hypothesis about what the student is communication through his behavior.
  • Accommodations that need to be in place to help the student function better.
  • Interactive strategies that will promote desired behavior.
  • Response strategies that may be considered if prevention efforts fail.

Features in The Behavior Code Companion We Like

I will use Chapter 3, Some of the Key Interventions for Successfully Supporting Students, for my examples.

A complete chapter is devoted to smooth transitions from one activity to another because it is critical to school success.  Ms. Minahan skillfully uses case studies and stories of successful interventions she calls, “Tales from the Field” to explain a problem that arises in most schools. Then to support each strategy to solve the problem she has easy-to-find and easy-to-use tips with their own icon and written in italic.

Child chewing on KidCompanions Chewelry for comfort during difficult transitions. www.kidcompanions.com I was happy to see that one tip was, “Comfort items, such as a tiny stuffed animal from home or a favorite bracelet, can help students make the transition to an anxiety-provoking activity.” Often parents tell the folks at SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. that their child is using our SentioCHEWS or KidCompanions Chewelry as a familiar, comfort item to help them with transitions!

Sprinkled throughout each chapter readers find distinct grey sections titled  “Taking Advantage of Technology” with links and suggestions on digital tools and apps.  Example: “When a student is having trouble entering the room, use a video-sharing app, FaceTime, Skype, or other ways for the student to participate in the class remotely. Virtual meeting apps like those at Edmoto.com and Wiggio.com also offer possibilities.”

There is also a special resource section on apps in appendix C.

To make her content relevant to each reader, there are sections with questions called “Reflect” where the reader takes the time to analyze how she has been trying to help a student. Then as she reads on, the new strategies she will read about will stand out and make her realize that how they can be applied  to solve the problems with her own student.

Example, “Think of a student you have who is having difficulty starting work. Consider the following questions:

  • What strategies have you used to help your student start?
  • Which of these ideas are you going to try now? Why?
  • Do you worry that if you help the student start, you are overhelping and the student might become dependent?

Sections titled, “Practice” are often charts with spaces for the reader’s brainstorm solutions done individually or as a team giving the reader another place to take what he is learning to solve a real problem he is having with students.

It has an excellent index and table of content.

More than 70 pages at the end are divided into seven appendixes to help with the writing of FAIR Behavior Intervention Plan accommodations and interventions in IEPs (individualized education programs), protocols for common crisis situations such as students’ bolting from the classroom, etc., Some are blank updated FAIR Behavior Intervention Plans.

The book has a wealth of FAIR Behavior Interventions Plans for students with anxiety-related or oppositional behaviors. The reader will learn how to teach the skills these students need to improve their behaviors. To know if the plans you have drawn up are working and that your student are improving, Chapter 7, titled “Tools for Monitoring Progress and Implementation”, will help you greatly.

On Ms. Minehan’s web site, I learned that The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that one in four thirteen-eighteen year olds has had an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.  Without intervention, these children are at risk for poor performance, diminished learning, and social/behavior problems in school. Moreover about 10 percent of kids in school in the US –approximately 9-13 million students — struggle with mental health problems.

The frustration level teachers and parents face trying to help these childen can be overwhelming.You can see why The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students With Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors by Jessica Minahan is a resources that could make the lives of many students and their families so much better and easier not to mention the lives those working with these students.

About the Author

Jessica Minahan, MEd, BCBA, author of The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students With Anxiety-Related or Oppositional BehaviorsJessica Minahan, MEd, BCBA, is a board-certified behavior analyst and special educator. She is Director of Behavioral Services at Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA), in Newton, Massachusetts, as well as a behavior consultant to schools nationwide. She also holds an adjunct professor position in the special education department at Boston University.

Jessica is a blogger on the Huffington Post, author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, with Nancy Rappaport (Harvard Education Press, 2012) and author of The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students with Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors (Harvard Education Press, 2014). Her speaking schedule, other publications, and more information are available at www.jessicaminahan.com.

She has over seventeen years of experience in public school systems supporting students with mental health challenges who exhibit concerning behavior. She has extensive experience supporting students with explosive and unsafe behavior, anxiety, trauma histories, emotional and behavioral disabilities, and high-functioning autism. Jessica specializes in staff training and creating behavior intervention plans and systems that combine a behavioral approach with a deep understanding of the student’s psychological profile. A sought-after international public speaker, Jessica has spoken on subjects ranging from effective interventions for students with anxiety to supporting hard-to-reach students in full-inclusion public school settings.

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This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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