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About Sabrina


Sabrina is a 7th grader at Junction Forks Middle School. When she was four years old, she was placed in foster care due to severe abuse and neglect. Since that time, she has lived with the same foster family. The family is now pursuing adoption. When Sabrina feels threatened, she bites herself and others. When she does not know what is expected in a situation, she feels threatened.

Sabrina’s school schedule is:
M, W, F 1st block -- Language Arts/Choir
T, Th -- Homeroom/Computer

M,W,F 2nd block – PE/Art/Health
T, Th -- Science/ Social Studies

M-F 3rd block – Lunch/Learning Lab
M, W, F 4th block – Mathematics
T,Th Electives

Her favorite subjects are Science and Math. Her least favorite class, she says, is lunch. The team believes it is because she does less well with unstructured time.

Understanding Sabrina’s Behavior
The team conducted a MAPS planning process and a functional behavior assessment as a part of the PBS process. Sabrina’s MAPS indicated that her nightmare is that she would have no friends and that no one who really cares for her. She is both excited and nervous about being adopted. The functional behavior assessment revealed that Sabrina bites herself or others when she perceives a threat. Biting never occurs in Choir or Science. She consistently bites in every class other than Science at second block.

Designing Strategies for Sabrina
To reassure Sabrina that she is cared for, the team designed a scrapbook and photo albums of her friends and foster family that Sabrina can review. The team also identified feeling threatened as an antecedent to Sabrina’s acting out. The team arranged for Sabrina to leave any environment she feels is threatening and to go to the counseling office, an environment Sabrina identifies as safe. The positive behavior support plan focused on changing Sabrina’s activities at second block and at lunchtime. The team reduced the number of classes that Sabrina takes at second block. She is taking only PE or Art at this time now. At lunch time, she is a counseling office helper and eats her lunch in the counseling office with a small group while doing other activities. In addition to working, she also has the opportunity to touch base with counselors if she needs to throughout the day.

Is the Plan Working?
Her foster mother reports that since the plan has been in effect (eight months), the calls from the school to pick up Sabrina have decreased from one time a week to one time a month. Sabrina has not been to the emergency room for bites in four months. Sabrina told her grandmother that middle school is better than it was last year. The team feels that they have a better understanding of Sabrina and her emotional needs.

Example of Sabrina’s Brainstorming Session Results


















Setting Event Antecedent Problem Behavior Consequences
Abused when very young Feeling threatened

Worrying about unstructured time

Biting herself and others She is taken to the office; she receives lunch detention; she is often sent home early from school
Setting Event Interventions Antecedent Interventions Replacement Behavior & Other Related Social and Communication Skills Consequence Interventions
Sabrina reviews photo book of her history with her foster family. Sabrina has permission to leave any environment that feels threatening to go to the counseling office

Sabrina has a job in the counseling office over lunch (avoiding the chaos of the cafeteria).

Sabrina has a reduced course load at the peak time of the day

Sabrina works as a counseling office aide, establishing both routine and relationships with counseling staff

Sabrina learns to identify when she is feeling threatened and goes to the counseling office

Sabrina develops a trusting relationship with counseling staff

Sabrina learns problem solving skills

Sabrina still receives access to the office, but as a worker; she avoids lunch time without detention; she does not need to leave school for medical attention

Adapted from:

O’Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Sprague, J. R., Storey, K., & Newton, J. S. (1997). Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior.

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