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Decoding the lingo! What is a BIP?

A Behaviour Intervention Plan (BIP) is a step-by-step guide on managing challenging behaviour. All significant role-players in a child’s life should have access to the BIP and should be trained on the BIP. This may include parents, domestic helpers, extended family, teachers, or other professionals. A parent-friendly BIP can be drawn up by the supervisor upon request, too.

A good BIP consists of the following:

  1. Operational definition. This is a detailed description of what the behaviour looks like. It may include examples and non-examples. It must contain measurable, observable behaviours – wording like “…intending to…” is not acceptable because you cannot directly observe and measure intent. It must specify what counts as one instance of the challenging behaviour in order to ensure consistency in tracking between different observers.
  2. Function. This is the reason the behaviour is occurring. If the function is not accurately identified before the BIP is drawn up, the BIP is likely to be ineffective. Any challenging behaviour that continues to occur is meeting a need or a want for the child; otherwise it would not continue to occur. A BIP designed to address the function ensures that the child learns pro-social and safe ways to get their needs met.
  3. Antecedent modifications. This lists and describes everything you can do to decrease the likelihood of the challenging behaviour occurring. It often involves teaching the child skills or providing them with supports such as timers.
  4. Replacement behaviour. This describes what skills we are teaching the child to engage in so that they no longer need to engage in the challenging behaviour.
  5. Consequence manipulation. This lists and describes everything you can do when the challenging behaviour occurs to manage it in the moment and to decrease how often and how intensely it happens in the future.
  6. Measurement method. The most common ways we measure challenging behaviour are rate (how often the behaviour is occurring on average per hour) and duration (how long the behaviour lasts; especially useful for behaviours like tantrums). It is important to measure the behaviour so that we know for sure that the behaviour is decreasing over time.

Consistency is absolutely key, so that more you know about and can implement your child’s BIP, the better! Implementing a BIP can be hard work at first, partly because the behaviour sometimes temporarily gets worse before it gets better, and partly because our interventions sometimes don’t align with what comes naturally to people outside of the field of ABA. Please hang in there! Stay in touch with your supervisor for support because sticking to the BIP will be SO worth it in the end. BIPs and the resulting decrease in problem behaviour leads to a happier family life, a happier child, and a child who is better equipped to navigate life!

Jenna White

Senior Clinical Director