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Brandie Thomason: Using Positive Behavior Supports To Help Marie Achieve Her Goals

Submitted By: Ryan Delfin, Arc of Jefferson County

Marie (name changed to protect her identity) joined the Arc family after living at home with her mother who was eventually unable to care for her due to her displays of aggressive behaviors. Shortly after arriving and being observed by our agency’s behavior analyst, a positive behavior support plan was designed for Marie. At the day program, Marie participated in training with Brandie Thomason, a seasoned staff member who was very familiar with following positive behavior support plans.

One of Marie’s challenging behaviors was her tendency to run out the door and lie in the street or parking lot. This became a concern, because of the safety risks associated with lying in the areas that vehicles occupy and use. When Marie did this, she would be prompted to move to another area to ensure her safety, but would not always immediately respond. Although Marie displayed challenging behaviors such as these, Brandie, with much patience and persistence, continued following the support plan as written and was sure to shower Marie with praise and positive attention. Eventually Marie began to respond to the support plan.

Recently it was discovered that some of Marie’s challenging behaviors were caused from a medical condition which keeps her internal temperature below normal. With this knowledge, Brandie has encouraged Marie to stay wrapped up in blankets at the day program. She has warm shoes, sweatshirts, socks and a jacket to wear when she begins to act as if she might be cold. Since she does not seem to notice when her core temperature is low, Brandie is constantly encouraging Marie to stay bundled in some sort of outerwear. It has been noticed that when Marie warms up she becomes calm and less likely to become aggressive or elope.

Brandie has been very supportive of Marie even before knowing that some of her behaviors could be medically related. Her patient nature, continued positive attitude, and close observations have helped Marie to improve her behavioral outbursts. With Marie’s ultimate goal being to spend more time with her mother, Brandie continues to work with Marie in all areas of her behavior including reminding her to stay warmly dressed. Brandie also encourages her to call her mother so they can stay in contact frequently. Marie has come a long way. Upon arrival at the day program, she dons her coat without being prompted and her attitude has greatly improved.

As Brandie continues to work with Marie it is hopeful that Marie will continue to improve allowing her positive behavior support plan to eventually fade away. The Personal Outcome Measures® have assisted Brandie with Marie in that they reinforced the importance and need to treat all people with respect and dignity; not as children. They reminded her that what may work for other people when reinforcing desired behavior, may not work for Marie. They stressed the importance of responding to and reinforcing Marie with responses that are specific to Marie and no one else. At this level of improvement, it is hoped that Marie’s mother will take her for home visits more often and for a longer stay. Additionally, it is felt that her quality of life will improve, as well, as she will be able to enjoy the same relationship with her mother as most of society is able to enjoy with theirs. With Brandie helping her, Marie will also make new friends which will give her more people with which to interact.

Brandie and Marie have forged a wonderful friendship. Although much progress has been made, Brandie will continue to work with and assist Marie so she will be able to one day live with her mother or, at the very least, visit for extended periods of time.

2017 Direct Support Professional Recognition Week

This article is part of a campaign during the 2017 DSP Recognition Week, to acknowledge Direct Support Professionals who are helping people achieve their individually-defined outcomes, through the use of Personal Outcome Measures®. This campaign was developed through a partnership between CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership and The National Alliance For Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).