What are the roles and responsibilities of school counselors when working with students with disabilities?
Page 3: Assist with Behavior Modification
Students with and without disabilities sometimes exhibit behaviors that can lead to problems with teachers, parents, and their fellow students, in both social and academic settings.
Potential Problem Areas
Ideally, the school counselor, school personnel, and the student work together to address problem areas that might impact school performance. Research indicates that teaching students self-management skills leads to an increase in student success. In fact, school counselors who attempt to incorporate self-management skills training on a school-wide basis are more supported by their school colleagues. Again, this is the case because academic success for all students increases when self-management skills are promoted. In many instances, working closely with the school counselor can reduce the likelihood that observed behaviors of concern—like those listed in the table below—become problematic.
|Behaviors of Concern and Possible Outcomes|
These behaviors of concern might include:
These behaviors of concern may lead to problems such as:
Behavioral problems may also result from frustration. Students with learning disabilities, especially those in general education classrooms, may feel frustrated if they do not receive the supports they need to complete their academic work. Rather than expressing their confusion or asking for help, students may resort to attention-seeking behaviors such as:
- Talking out
- Disrupting other classmates
- Sleeping in class
Roles for School Counselors
Although it is not exclusively the counselor’s responsibility to assess students, it is important for him or her to work collaboratively with members of multidisciplinary teams to ensure the interventions adequately meet the students’ needs. If you want to learn more about classroom behavior management, refer to the following IRIS Modules:
- Classroom Management (Part 1): Learning the Components of a Comprehensive Behavior Management Plan
- Addressing Disruptive and Non-Compliant Behaviors (Part 1): Understanding the Acting-Out Cycle
For those students who have emotional or behavioral disorders and need more intensive self-management skills, behavior intervention plans are required by the IEP. In such cases, the school counselor may participate in the development of behavior intervention plans.
Some school counselors can help to manage behavior problems by:
- Conducting classroom observations and completing behavior checklists or rating forms in an effort to establish baseline student behavior
- Observing students in the classroom or on the playground to identify behavioral antecedents
- Assisting school personnel in developing plans, which might involve scheduled reinforcement for desired behavior
- Assisting school personnel in determining realistic behavioral goals
- Monitoring student behavior (e.g., requiring students to show their daily assignment sheets before going home each day)
- Reinforcing appropriate student behavior