Reducing Burnout in the Behavioral Health Field

Burnout is a term that we hear often in today’s society. It’s a social issue that companies and organizations have been trying to solve for years now. But what exactly is burnout? Burnout is characterized as depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and reduced personal accomplishment that stems from one’s inability to cope with long-term work stress. No one is immune from burnout, but it has been found that it hits some harder than others. Research shows that longer work days, imbalance of demand and resources, and conflicts at work are risk factors of burnout. In the behavioral health setting and special education challenging client behaviors can be considered a contributing factor to burnout among behavior technicians. This could lead to turnover in staff and disruption in services for clients. Burnout in an organization could also cause poor performance for behavior technicians that stay and additional stress for those that don’t leave. Behavioral health field organizations can assess, intervene, and monitor to reduce and combat behavior technician burnout. 

  1. Assess. Organizations and employers can look at the performance and missed therapy sessions as the first step to look for burnout in employees. Then administer additional surveys like Maslach Burnout Inventory and Areas of Worklife Survey. The Maslach Burnout Inventory is a human services survey that addresses emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. Emotional exhaustion measures feelings of exhaustion by one’s work and being emotionally overextended. Depersonalization measures the impersonal response and unfeeling toward recipients of one’s services. Lastly, personal accomplishment measures feelings of successful achievement and competence in one’s work. The Areas of Worklife Survey scales include workload, reward, control, community, fairness, and values. 
  2. Intervene. Organizations can provide staff training for Behavior Technicians that include peer mentorship, RBT round tables, and professional development. Using evidence based practices for behavioral skills training and behavioral coaching can improve feelings of personal accomplishment in employees. One of the most important interventions that can be used is self-care. Self-care is any intentional activity to take care of our emotional, physical, and mental health. Organizations should infuse self-care and follow through with behaviors that promote self-care among employees, not just saying it’s important. This could be a team building opportunity for companies and their employees. Self-care has been shown to improve mood and decrease anxiety. 
  3. Monitor. Companies and organizations can re-administer surveys and look at performance periodically. In addition to the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Areas of Worklife Survey, have employees complete an increase/improve reinforcement survey. With on-going data analysis, organizations can use the BHCOE to be a third party assessor. Depending on the data, if it’s working then keep doing it. If the data is not then go back and reassess, come up with a different intervention plan, implement, and assess again. And the easiest thing for companies to do about combating burnout, ask the employees how they feel. 

In the behavioral health field, burnout is when workers become emotionally fatigued and withdraw emotionally from their clients. Burnout leads to turnover in employees that decide to leave and added stress for those employees that stay. For those employees that leave, they often look for less emotionally draining jobs in different career fields. Reducing burnout in the behavioral health field will help improve services for clients and improve the performance of behavior technicians. Organizations can assess the employees and how the burnout is affecting them, intervene by implementing surveys and self-care programs, and monitor the results. Addressing the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization with self-care activities and reduced personal accomplishment with professional development and continuing education trainings. No one is immune to burnout, but with a plan and companies help to reduce burnout, it can be reduced and managed.


“Burnout.” Burnout – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics,

Tips for Whole Body Listening

What is whole body listening? It is often described as a set of behaviors that are needed to show others that you are paying attention to the conversation or activity that is taking place. The brain thinks about what the speaker is saying, the eyes are towards the speaker, body facing the speaker, mouth is quiet, and a calm body. However, whole body listening also involves perspective taking, feeling, and thinking. Teaching whole body listening helps children take the perspective of others and to show others like teachers or peers that you are listening and part of the group. While using whole body listening, children can become aware of their brains and bodies and ways to help them attend to others. It’s important as providers, parents, and teachers to understand that whole body listening come with challenges. Listening can be a difficult skill for children and most of the time they must demonstrate that they are listening to the speaker. In our culture, if you do not appear to be listening it can cause offense and lead to others having a negative reaction. But it is important to remember that everyone listens in their own way. How we show we are listening depends on cognitive and sensory regulation. Here are some tips for the eyes, mouth, and body for children to demonstrate whole body listening.

  1. Eyes- Look towards the speaker but remember this does not have to be directly. Have the child look at and observe facial expressions of others. To help children focus with their eyes, limit visual clutter and distractions. Remember that eye contact can be difficult, stressful, and overwhelming for some people.
  2. Mouth- Children can chew on gum, chew jewelry like a necklace, or drink water. This allows the child to receive the sensory input needed and they can also practice impulse control. While they are chewing or drinking, children are practicing thinking before speaking. However, some children need to produce verbal sounds to stay calm and process what is being said.
  3. Body- While listening and processing to speakers, have children squeeze hands or have a fidget available. Explore sensory exercises and strategies like deep breathing or adaptive seating. Some children need movement to feel comfortable and attend to others. This could be flapping or moving hands or moving around the room.

Whole body listening is not an easy skill for children and the process is complex. Children are expected to look towards the speaker with their eyes and body, keep their mouth quiet, their body calm, and process what is being said. Teaching children whole body listening develops into active listening as teens and adults later in life. Paying attention and listening are essential for learning and communication. Using these tips can help children stay alert and attend while others are speaking. Teaching children to use whole body listening can be beneficial for children to learn, grow, and succeed.

Resources: Sautter, E. (2019). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 23, 2020,

How to Teach Expected and Unexpected Behaviors

An expected behavior is a behavior that keeps others calm in situations. This could be being quiet during circle time, sitting at the table during snack, or standing in line with the class. An unexpected behavior is a behavior that other people might find stressful or could make someone feel uncomfortable in the situation. Unexpected behaviors could be a child talking loudly during circle time, running around during snack, or having a tantrum in line with the class. These unexpected behaviors can affect how others perceive the child and could lead to being in trouble with the teacher or other adults. To increase expected behaviors, reinforce these behaviors when you see children engaging in them. Here are three things to remember when teaching clients or students about expected and unexpected behaviors. 

  1. Do not skip over the thoughts and feelings. Perspective taking and interacting with others starts with children understanding their own thoughts and feelings. They need to recognize that with their thoughts and feelings, that other people have thoughts and feelings as well. If children do not understand this, then “expected” and “unexpected” has no meaning to them. 
  2. Make your expectations clear. Let your children know the plan, so they understand what is expected of them. If you do not give them your expectations, it will set them up for failure and lead to unexpected behaviors. 
  3. Listening to your body is important. The body is the part of communication that is often forgotten about. You use your whole body to move closer to people to indicate you want to communicate or join the group. If a child is not aware of what his or her body, then it makes it difficult to show his or her intentions to the group. This could increase unexpected behaviors, but the child is unaware of this. 

Expected behaviors are the socially aware behaviors that occur in everyday life like walking quietly in line or sitting for circle time. Unexpected behaviors can be considered tantrum behaviors or lead to tantrums for children. Instead of focusing all your attention on a child’s unexpected behaviors, pay attention to the expected behaviors. When teaching your clients or students it is important to include learning about the thoughts and feelings of others, listening to your body, and make your expectations for the child clear. What we do and how we act affects how others think about us, increase your child’s expected behaviors and watch them grow socially. 



Reinking, R. (2017, September 27). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 2, 2020,

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement with Social Thinking 

Movement and physical activity are a part of everyday life. Children are always on the move while playing, standing in line with the class, or being a part of the group. However, it seems that providers and teachers spend a great deal of time teaching clients and students sitting at tables. Social thinking and social skills involve the whole body to communicate with others. One of the steps to face-to-face communication is to establish a physical presence. You use your whole body to move closer to people to indicate you want to communicate or join the group. Along with using your whole body, thinking with your eyes is also important for face-to-face communication. Thinking with your eyes allows you to observe what is happening around you. Teaching movement with social skills and social thinking helps children understand that these skills are not just used in social conversations. Here are five strategies to combine movement and face-to-face communication for children. 

  1. Follow the Leader. This game includes several social concepts and encourages self-awareness and social attention. During this game, you can teach children to keep his/her body in the group and think with your eyes. However, this game might be challenging for clients and students due to the multiple social skills involved and the child having to imitate peers. 
  2. Four Square. This game helps children work on keeping focus on the game and thinking with your eyes. It might be necessary to slow down the game to simplify the game for your client or student. 
  3. Lining up and walking with the group. This works on the child keeping his/her body in the group and learning behaviors that are expected. It is important to remember that our clients tend to be “me thinkers” rather than “we thinkers.” This means that these social concepts do not come naturally and requires more practice. Have children observe the group they are a part of and stay with the group while walking. This may be challenging for children, so try using a peer to prompt them to stay in the group. 
  4. Red-Light, Green-Light. Thinking with your eyes is the key to this game. Both the leader and the followers need to use your eyes to play the game. 
  5. Playing team sports. While playing sports, like soccer, children include several social skills like thinking with your eyes and using your whole body. Children must look at other players for signals on what to do, as well as keeping the body in the group. 

Teaching children to use movement with communication helps with generalization and understanding social skills. To communicate with others, you must think with your eyes and keep your body in the group. These five activities are exciting and engage the child while learning social skills. The social world is constantly moving, movement and learning go hand and hand. 


Winner, M. (2017, August 29). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 3, 2020,

Three Steps to Improving Social Skills 

Behaviors that people engage in and demonstrate in a social context are thought of as social skills. These behaviors can be appropriate or inappropriate, which affects whether others view this person as having “poor” or “good” social skills. If a four-year-old is having a tantrum during school, it is viewed as typical. However, if a ten-year-old is having the same tantrum during class the child has a behavior problem. Children that have social or behavioral problems are repeatedly told that they need to develop better social skills. Treatment plans that target social skills often work on how the child behaves in specific social situations like at home, in the community, or at school. For example, the child could work on sitting still in a chair during class or keeping busy and quiet during an outing with the family. These treatment plans are like blueprints for behavior in specific situations that the child encounters. For children to produce the appropriate behavior it requires them to understand the situation and people involved. 

  1. Take part in social thinking- this means the child must consider their own and others’ thoughts, feelings, intentions, and intentions. Self-awareness and perspective taking allow the child to interpret and understand the behaviors that are expected of them and the social situation they are in. It is important to remember that social thinking directly influences behavioral responses. 
  2. Adapt behaviors effectively- children must adapt their behaviors to communicate their intentions to others and based on the thoughts and feelings of others. This increases the likelihood that others respond and react positively. 
  3. Recognize the reactions of others- social skills influence how we feel about people and how people feel about us. However, people respond to our behaviors quickly. If someone has good social skills others will label them as “kind” or “polite.” While someone with poor or weak social skills might be labeled as “rude” or “impolite.” The way people treat us is often based on how they responded to our behavior. 

Using social skilsl are a part of everyday life and they can even affect a child’s academic success. We use social skills and social thinking when you think about other’s perspectives. This could be watching a movie or sporting event, sending a text, or reading a book. These three steps help children become more aware and adaptable when using social skills. First, take part in social thinking and consider everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Adapt your behaviors based on your intentions and others’ thoughts and feelings. Then, recognize the reactions of others to your behaviors. Social skills are not memorized, rehearsed, and based on one singular context or stimulus. It is important to teach children to adapt and adjust to specific people or situations.


Resources: Winner, M. (2015, May). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 1, 2020,

5 Tips for Helping Children to Cope with Anxiety

Anxiety and feeling anxious in situations are much more common than we realize. Children that are self-aware could start experiencing instances of social anxiety starting at four years old. If individuals are not aware of how they are perceived by others are more likely to have social-sensory anxiety. This means they might be overwhelmed by the unpredictability of people and could become sensory overwhelmed by the presence of a large group of people. However, social anxiety is not the only type of anxiety that people can be affected by. There is world-based anxiety that deals with change, performance anxiety where there is anxiety about work that needs to be done, and anxiety related to trauma that triggers emotions and physical reactions. According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, anxiety of all forms is now the primary mental health issue for American children. It can be difficult to manage feelings, thoughts, and behaviors when we feel anxious. Here are 5 tips to help children learn how to manage and cope with anxiety:

  1. Respect the child’s feelings. It is important to remember that anxiety is not a “one-size-fits all” experience. Children need validation for their thoughts and feelings, so never tell children they should not feel sad, mad, or anxious. Let them know that each person may feel differently about a situation, and that is okay. 
  2. Try to learn what makes the child anxious, worried, or even stressed. Identifying these triggering events or phrases can help parents and providers avoid making the child’s anxiety worse. When the source of the child’s anxiety is unknown, comments from providers and parents could increase stress levels for the child because the anxiety is not being acknowledged. If describing these specific phrases, events, or situations are difficult for the child try having the child describe the level of anxiety. It is important to remember that anxiety and stress is not always logical. 
  3. Use more than language to describe what anxiety is. There are several alternatives to have children communicate what the stress levels are, including a visual scale or drawing pictures. Visual scales could include what the child’s stress level is from 1-10 during certain activities such as walking in line, working in a group, playing at recess, or walking into the classroom in the morning. For older children, visual scales could be used for the classes they are in throughout the school day like anxiety levels in math compared to levels in reading. Another way to describe anxiety could be a scale using levels of calm to stressed with people they interact with throughout the day. 
  4. Provide a range of strategies to show that they are not stuck. It’s important for children to understand that their own thoughts and feelings can be noticed, analyzed, and changed. Helping your child become a flexible thinker will help them think differently and reframe the stressors in their life. Current language arts curriculums are starting to incorporate managing stress and understanding the emotions they are feeling. However, with the uncertainty of school and summer, there are resources outside of the school that can help with this. At home, you can find Youtube videos and movies where characters deal with stress and anxiety.  
  5. Teach that the goal is self-management, not comfort. Change and uncertainty have been a major part of our everyday lives, so let them know it’s okay to feel discomfort. Try to be encouraging because stress is stressful. Teaching strategies to cope with the discomfort will improve their anxiety and overall well-being. 

Stress and anxiety are affecting children more than ever. This time of uncertainty and change, especially without the routines of school, could increase anxiety and stress for children. Teaching children to respect their feelings, describe emotions with more than language, and self-management could help them cope with anxiety. As parents or providers it is important to learn what could trigger the anxiety for your child and provide them with a wide range of strategies to understand their emotions. Coping with stress should be taught with compassion and patience. Children should learn that they are not different or bad for having anxiety, the world is filled with difficult and stressful situations. 

Resources: Winner, M. (2019, November 05). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from

How to Overcome Challenges of Cooperative Play

Cooperative play has been found to be the most difficult stage of play for children. In this stage of play, peers work together to achieve a common goal. Children are learning higher level skills like requesting from peers, contribute ideas, take turns, share with others, and problem solve. All these factors can lead to conflict, however, are needed for the success for other group situations in life. There are four main challenges of cooperative play for children with ASD including players in close proximity, variation, trading/sharing with others, and turn taking. Here are some ideas to overcome these challenges for more successful cooperative play for your child.

Tolerating peers in close proximity – Children are less predictable and may be viewed as aversive for several reasons. Other peers could touch, invade personal space, and change the plan of play. For some children, these actions can be upsetting and lead to challenging behaviors. The first step of intervention is having your child accept others in the play space. You can then work to associate others with positive and reinforcing things to that specific child. It is also beneficial in the beginning, to choose play partners that are most likely to be tolerated and accepted by your child.

Accept variation – As other peers join in play, it is likely that variations with be added and change will occur. If a child plays in repetitive or predictable activities, they could find this aversive. Variation could turn into a negative experience and lead to escalation when others join or approach. If a negative learning history is established then the child could become upset when others come near, even if the peers are not touching toys or engaging in play. Intervention should focus on flexibility and activities for tolerating change.

Trading and sharing with others. To engage in trading and sharing children must request and respond to requests from other peers. Before starting to work on sharing, the child needs to accept other peers in close proximity as well as trading with an adult during play. When the child is ready to start working on sharing start with trading. This allows the child to trade items without losing a preferred item and receiving nothing in return. It is also important to become familiar with typical child development to set appropriate expectations for your child. Children should not and will not share every time they are asked, which will lead to conflict. This conflict is expected and natural.

Waiting and turn taking. Waiting can be difficult for young children, both neurotypical and those with ASD. This can occur because the equipment is not available, like no available swings at the park, or not enough space. If a child engages in challenging behaviors while waiting, there are ways to add more structure to show when an activity will begin. You could create routines by using a timer, specific number or turns, or counting. Another approach is teaching the child to participate in other activities while waiting. While waiting children could clap for the others that are playing or singing.

Interactions with peers and play can be difficult and upsetting for children with ASD. This could make play and peers aversive to those with ASD that have had negative experiences. These are just some ways to overcome four common barriers of cooperative play. It is important for children to tolerate those in close proximity, accept variation, trading and sharing, and waiting with sharing. Cooperative play teaches children skills that will be utilized and essential throughout life.

Resources: Mission Cognition, LLC. Family Training Resource

4 Ways to Expand Language

One of the main deficits in people with ASD is delayed speech and language. Communication can be verbal, non-verbal, and through AAC devices. Children with ASD can have difficulty knowing the power of communication. They do not understand how to get basic or social needs met through language and communication. Communication like gaining attention from others, delivering messages, and conversations are needed to be independent. It is important to promote language and help communication growth but remember it can be frustrating not being able to communicate with others, so challenging behaviors may occur.

Non-verbal communication is important to teach and incorporate with daily speech. Children that have ASD have delays in verbal communication, as well as conveying and interpreting non-verbal communication. This means they have difficulty using body language, gestures, and expressions to communicate. By improving this it can help children can become more effective communicators. To support this area, you can add animated facial expressions to help with visual attending to others while playing. Gestures and pointing can help promote eye contact and development of non-verbal communication.
Verbal communication starts with mands, or more commonly known as, requests. This is the first thing that a child is taught so they understand the power of communication. Mands get their needs and wants met, so they are more likely to use it in the future. Once the child’s wants or needs are determined then you can prompt an alternative and safe way to communicate those wants or needs. Based on the abilities of the child, a PECS or communication device might be needed to communicate. The child can point, hand a picture, or click a button on a device to mand. For children that can imitate sounds and speech, they can repeat those wanted words or phrases. To increase the use of these mands, setting up contrived situations would be beneficial for practice. Have desired or reinforcing items out of reach where the children would have to mand for what they want/need. This could be having your child say, “buh” or “bubbles,” in order to gain access to the bubbles.
Tacts, or labeling, focuses more on the social interaction versus gaining access to the item. It is important for a child’s development to spontaneously commenting on the environment and world around them. Tacting works on children answering questions like “what’s that?” Labeling in the natural environment draws attention to the item or to the speaker. To increase tacting, you can place pictures around the house or in the environment. Then have the child label the picture and provide natural comments about the label.
Intraverbal, also referred to as fill-ins, are important to having conversations. When they are first introduced, intraverbals are simple fill is such as “1, 2, ….” or “ready, set, …” As the language expands for a child, the intraverbals can become more advanced. Introducing intraverbals during play routines can be effective for expanding language. As the language expands, the child will learn to answer a wide range of questions. This could include “How old are you?” “What’s your mom’s name?” “What grade are you in?”
By expanding language, it gives children the child their own power and voice their own wants and needs. The child is first taught important non-verbal communication and mands including learning gestures or using requests like, “more,” “stop,” and “eat.” Working on tacting, or labels, promotes spontaneous language growth for children. Intraverbals should be incorporated after building up mands and tacts with your child. Intraverbals focus on communicating with others and starts as the foundation for having conversations in the future. All of these steps can help children with ASD become more independent by using language and communication.

Resources: Mission Cognition, LLC. Family Training Resource

The Importance of Play: Parten’s Six Stages of Play

Play is powerful and vital for the development of children. Play should be fun, spontaneous, and flexible to allow the child to have a healthy development. Play is an outlet for children to learn important details about themselves like their own likes and dislikes. Socially, children learn how to communicate and problem solving with peers around them. Play activities initiate academic skills like language, reading, and math. There are also specific benefits for children with ASD that range from social to attending to introducing turn taking skills. Through play children with ASD learn to build relationships, increases attending behaviors, reinforce flexibility, increases duration of social interactions, and condition the people and attention as reinforcers. Play builds the foundation for academic skills to be developed, expanding language, and increasing peer interactions.

Here are Parten’s six stages of play that children move through. It is important to remember that each child is unique and develops at their own pace.

  1. Unoccupied play looks like the child is uninterested in engaged in activities, but this stage builds the foundation for the next five stages of play. They may seem scattered in movements or wandering without functions. The unoccupied stage allows for children to manipulate materials, explore, and learn self-control in their environment. 
  2. Solitary play is the next stage in Parten’s 6 Stages of Play. This is where the child engages in appropriate play with a toy but does not engage with peers. Solitary play could look like a child rolling a car or building by themselves. By playing alone the child is preparing to play with others. The child is practicing new cognitive and motor skills, as well as exploring with toys freely. 
  3. Onlooker play stage is where the child is watching other peers engaging in play behavior but does not join in on the play behavior. It has been found that the basis is learning is through observation. This is a chance for children to observe the rules of play, different ways to play, building relationships, and using materials in other ways. They could watch a game of tag or others building a train track. Watching peers is the active part of their play in this stage. 
  4. Parallel play occurs when the child is playing close to peers, about three feet, but they are not interacting with each other. Children could be building block towers or coloring at the same table. Parallel play is thought of to be like a warm-up stage, where children are engaged in the same activities side-by-side but not yet engaging in social exchanges. 
  5. Associative play means the child is changing and developing. Two or more peers are acknowledging each other and engaged in the same play activity. They might be practicing the skills they have observed in earlier stages, like the onlooker and parallel play. Children start to become more interested in others while playing versus being more interested in the activity. 
  6. Cooperative play is based on the cooperation between peers. In this stage, each child has a specific role and should follow explicit or implied guidelines. However, cooperation is a challenging skill for young children which leads to conflict. Taking turns and sharing could be some reasons why conflict occurs, but this is completely normal. It is important to provide support for children during these times of conflict so stay close. Parents, teachers, and service providers can teach problem solving skills and healthy emotions and how to express them. 



Rymanowicz, K. (2018, October 2). The power of play – Part 1: Stages of play. Retrieved from


Mission Cognition, LLC. Family Training Resource 

5 Steps for Pinpointing Social Skills

Pinpointing answers the simple question of “what am I teaching?” A pinpoint is a clear description and countable unit of behavior in a specific context. Pinpoints help for clarity across teams, so you know a behavior when you see it. Being social and having social skills does not come easy for some. It can be difficult for the children and clients to engage in social skills, but it can also be difficult for the providers and teams to identify. They keep everyone on the team of a client stay on the same page, as well as making it easier to reinforce and measure. While working on social skills for a client there are four different areas that can be targeted. These include conversations, groupwork, classroom participation, and emotional regulation. Here are the five steps to creating a pinpoint for social skills. 

  1. Select a behavior with the furthest reaching effect. The first question to ask is “what is the biggest problem behavior?” This could also include a problem behavior that is common to all various problems. 
  2. Make sure this behavior passes the “dead person’s test.” This is a technique that asks the simple question of “can a dead person perform the behavior.” If you answer yes, the dead man can do that behavior, then select a different behavior to practice or change. Behaviors like laying down, staying in seat, and being quiet would not pass the “dead person’s test.”
  3. Create a movement cycle. The movement cycle must be observable, repeatable, and contains movement. The first step would be selecting an action verb such as raise, say, or shift. Next, make the verb present tense like says or raises. Last, select the singular object that the verb will act upon. This creates movement cycles like raises hand, stacks block, or shifts gaze. 
  4. Complete pinpoint by adding context. This is where and when you want the behavior to occur. Adding context could include phrases like “during play” and “when meeting a new person.” Context is the difference between a behavior being socially acceptable and socially awkward. You do not want your client to raise their hand while sitting at the dinner table, but you do want your client to raise their hand while sitting in class. Putting the movement cycle with the context creates the desired pinpoint. This could look like “stacks block during play,” or “shakes hand when meeting a new person.” 
  5. The last step is testing the pinpoint. An effective pinpoint captures everything you are measuring and excludes everything you are not measuring. Then have others count the targeted pinpoint and compare answers. These are tactics to ensure that your pinpoint created is accurate and keeps the team on the same page. 

There are five major areas that you could apply your newly created pinpoint to for your child’s goals. While working on the first area, conversations, you could pinpoint behaviors like changing topics, responding to a teacher/adult when a greeting is given, or asking open ended questions. If the child or client’s goal is responding to a teacher’s greeting then the pinpoint could state, “shifts gaze and says greeting statement to adult after adult greets them.” For groupwork, pinpoints could focus on the child offering suggestions or looking at a peer when saying an answer. Pinpoints created for classroom participation looking at speaker during teacher lead directives, raising hand, or getting folder. Emotional regulation is one of the more difficult areas to create pinpoints for. These social skills focus on identifying when the client needs to use a relaxation tool when triggered, and then utilizing relaxation tools. By using the five steps listed above to create a pinpoint, a potential pinpoint could be “uses relaxation tool when cued by adult.” 

Pinpoints are helpful for several reasons, like keeping behavior descriptions clear and measurable. Creating a pinpoint with these five steps will keep all the providers on the same page when it comes to the client’s behaviors. This is important for accurate data collection and measurement, as well as reinforcement. First identify the target behavior that passes the “dead person’s test,” create a movement cycle, add context, and then test it. Pinpointing for social skills could target conversations, groupwork, classroom participation, and emotional regulation. Social skills can be difficult for clients to engage in and providers to identify, but these five steps help make it easier. 



Peacock, K. MS, BCBA. Pinpointing Social Skills. Central Reach. Retrieved from