The 3 P’s

The 3 P’s for working with behavioral challenges

Position, Placement, Plan


Location: In our small speech room at a table is not always ideal. Often our students have been in therapy for years and can have a negative association “work time” in a pull-out, sit at a table approach. I have found that movement is the best way to work with my students. We do therapy walking in the hallways, swinging, playing ball, in the gym (a favorite), playground, classroom, lunchroom or wherever! Remember, language occurs everywhere! I will expand on how I provide push-in services in another blog.

Distance/Proximity: Where you sit in relation to the child is important. If you have already observed the client you may have picked up on how the student is seated when learning, how much movement they need, how long they can remain engaged, what if any fidgets were needed or used and whether these things were successful. Often our students respond better when the therapist sits side by side, diagonal or on the floor engagement rather than traditional across the table, face to face (need better terms- ask OT).

Body movement: our students are highly sensitive to sudden and often big movements or any encroachment on their personal space (arm swings, leaning in, etc)

Placement of materials: Where and how to present students with materials is something that we were all taught in grad school and experience and learn daily. Kids are quick to grab what they desire and we do and will continue to forget or lose our focus and leave something in the wrong place –> bye-bye. Students with challenging behaviors which might include destroying, eating, throwing, swiping, licking and ruining materials takes planning and thought. Please see another post


Plan: Of course we plan our lessons. I’m talking about a plan of how and what to do when a behavior occurs. This is obviously going to vary from facility to facility. However, you should always be mindful that materials and things can be replaced- keep yourself and the student safe! So, if you need to have a plan in where you sit versus the student so that you can exit safely if needed.

In the next blog, I will discuss the types of materials and how we set up our space.