Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Finding Strategies and Support at PTS’ 2018 Administrator Retreat

Read Our Retreat Recap and Gain Professional Development and Guidance

Administering a special education and related services program is stressful.

school avoidance and behavior intervention plansEvery day, you are torn between doing what’s best for your district’s students and what’s best for your budget. High therapeutic staff turnover and constant concerns about legal liability add even more pressure to your role.

That’s why PTS, Inc. offers our Annual Administrator Retreat.

Last year, more than four dozen special education administrators attended our most recent retreat in November at Chadwick’s Club in Shannondell in Audubon, PA.

School avoidance and behavior intervention plans were topics discussed on our formal agenda. But the event also gave administrators a chance to network and share insights with colleagues in a relaxed, encouraging setting.

Whether or not you were able to join us, we hope you’ll find this summary of the retreat’s key professional development takeaways useful.

Using a Behavioral Approach to Increase School Attendance

The all-day event featured two highly sought-after speakers in the field of behavioral health.

During the morning session, Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D., ABPP, talked about school avoidance treatment.

Dr. Dahlsgaard is Clinical Director of the Anxiety Behaviors Clinic (ABC) and Director of the Picky Eaters Clinic, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

school avoidance and behavior intervention plansA recipient of a National Science Foundation Fellowship award, Dr. Dahlsgaard is a frequent lecturer and guest speaker. She has been published in scientific journals, books, and mainstream media on the subjects of child development, psychopathology, mental health, and human virtue. 

In her presentation at the 2018 Administrator’s Retreat, Dr. Dahlsgaard blended wisdom and humor to present her perspective on the most effective ways to make students more willing to return to school. Her best quote of the morning was, “The ‘good news’ is that the cure for school avoidance is going to school!”

She offered simple and practical strategies focused on reinforcing students’ daily routines step-by-step, from getting out of bed to getting on the bus. She also provided insight into what parents can do about school avoidance by illuminating an important balance between compassion and tough love.

Dr. Dahlsgaard shared this surprising research result: Students who exhibit school avoidance behavior have no more anxiety than students who attend school regularly. This finding reinforces her behavioral approach to improving attendance.

She also emphasized the need for a child’s entire IEP team—including school administrators, teachers, and guidance counselors—to handle school refusal behavior consistently.

Practical Steps for Better BIP Implementation

In the afternoon session, Jonathan W. Ivy, PhD, BCBA-D, presented strategies for implementing behavior intervention plans (BIPs) with fidelity.

Dr. Ivy is an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State University. In 2013, he was nominated as president of the Pennsylvania Association for Behavior Analysis. He gives professional presentations at national conferences and workshops. He has an active research agenda and has been published in peer-reviewed journals multiple times.

The people who develop interventions for students with behavior problems generally aren’t the same people who implement them, Dr. Ivy explained. As a result, the risks of adding components to the plan or missing components altogether increase. He discussed ways for administrators to solve this problem. They can train support staff in the response skills needed when a student’s disruptive behavior occurs, for example. Administrators can also document implementation competency and consistency.

He also provided tools that enable administrators to better assess implementation fidelity. By collecting data on how effectively staff members put a behavior intervention plan in place, administrators can make data-driven decisions about what and how much additional training to provide.

Dr. Ivy made the important point that no amount of proactive planning can make a non-effective intervention successful. Ensuring the prescribed reinforcer is well-matched to the behavior at hand is always the first step to success.

Dr. Ivy’s presentation supported PTS’ proactive model of behavioral health service delivery. This model deploys Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) to analyze and prevent problem behaviors before a crisis occurs by increasing the building staff’s ability to address those behaviors.

Find Out How PTS Supports Special Education Administrators Like You

Would you welcome PTS’ help in treating school avoidance behaviors, implementing behavior intervention plans, or dealing with any of the other issues facing your district’s program?

You don’t have to wait until our next retreat!

This event is only one way we empower administrators across southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to successfully serve students with special needs.

Whether you need help staffing your team, finding therapist-designed resources, cutting and controlling costs, or managing your program on a daily basis, PTS offers proven solutions. Call us today at 610-941-7020, or contact us online.

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