Big Picture

Once a replacement behavior (FERB) has been identified, the BIP must describe in detail the reinforcement intervention procedures to use for Establishing, Maintaining, and Generalizing the replacement behavior(s)/FERB.

Effective BIPs document how reinforcement of the FERB will be implemented within a student's day. Clearly identifying how the FERB will be reinforced increases consistency across people.

These details are necessary for the team to identify:

  • What reinforcers are needed to reinforce the FERB.
  • Who is providing reinforcement to the student.
  • How reinforcement will be delivered (i.e., what is the criteria for the use of the FERB to allow the student to access reinforcement and how frequently can student access it).
  • What training/coaching is needed for the staff to implement intervention(s) correctly
  • How reinforcement can be faded over time.


New behavior must be reinforced. Teaching alone is insufficient to ensure an acceptable alternative behavior (FERB) will replace a student's use of challenging behavior, as the student may not see how this new behavior will benefit them.

Reinforcement of the FERB will show the student that this new behavior works and allows them to be successful in getting their needs met without the use of challenging behavior. Reinforcement in a behavior intervention plan is focused on increasing replacement behaviors that should directly result in a decrease in challenging behavior.

Key Concepts

  • There should be evidence that reinforcement procedures included are effective in reinforcing the student's appropriate behavior. For example, "selection of reinforcer based on_____."
  • Reinforcement should at minimum be reinforcement specific to the FERB (may also include reinforcement of general positive behavior, but only after a FERB is specified).
  • The interventions in the BIP should include enough detail that new team members will be able to understand and implement the interventions.
  • Frequency of reinforcement must match the student's ability to delay gratification and consistent to student's level of development.
  • The reinforcers should be aligned with the hypothesized function of student behavior (e.g., sensory, escape/avoidance, attention, tangible).


Selection of reinforcement strategies should be based on what is known to be reinforcing for the student, specifically, what is gained by using the challenging behavior that needs to be replaced by desired behavior.

This may be identified through direct assessment, survey, or observation, and based on student preference.

Examples and Non-Examples

Scenario: Reinforce Students Use of "Break Card"

  1. Function: Escape
  2. FERB: point/touch/ give "Break Card" to adult
Example and Non-Example Scenario Rationale

Non-Example of Reinforcement:

Breaks, and reinforcement will be provided throughout the day.

Non-Example: Lacking details about which strategies will be used, and what materials are needed.

Non-Example of Reinforcement:

Kai will be given "caught being good" tickets for good behavior throughout the day. Kai can then cash tickets in for prizes at the end of the week.

Non-Example: There is no direct link in this example between reinforcement strategy and FERB.

Example of Reinforcement:

Establishing: Part 1: Reinforcing "Break Card". Kai's Teacher and classroom support staff will immediately honor every time the Break card is presented by saying "Good job Kai asking for a break, we are all done", staff will immediately remove all tasks from desk and provide Kai a 5-minute break away from desk. After 5-minute break, staff should return to desk with predetermined preferred success-level tasks by teacher (such as puzzles, shape sort, etc.) to establish task compliance. Teacher and staff will continue break card protocol each time Kai presents card.

Part 2: Reinforce task/work completion. In addition to use of break card, Teacher and classroom staff will use a 5-star chart (visual reinforcement system) to reinforce task/work completion. For every item answered/completed, staff will put a star on chart. After completing 5 stars staff will offer Kai time to engage in a preferred activity (1-2 minutes) at his desk. Teacher/staff will offer Kai choice of items on "choice menu": Use of spin toy, access to play putty, play with ball. Use of star chart to incorporate completion of tasks and transition to preferred activities (like play time and break away from table-top time).

Maintain: Part 1: Once Kai is consistently using break card independently (without prompts) instead of challenging behavior across all class activities, Staff will thin reinforcement by providing a short delay to break, skipping task and presenting an easier task (success level task such as gross motor imitation. For example: "Do This" (have Kai imitate clap hands) then follow break protocol as described above.

  1. When an activity is removed after the use of the break card, it should always be reintroduced at a later time. Kai should not completely escape the activity forever. When reintroducing, ensure that:
    1. The task is not too long (as needed, adjust the length of the assignment, or break it up into smaller chunks with more frequent reinforcement)
    2. It is at Kai's instructional level (if it isn't, provide support and prompting to ensure Kai can complete it successfully and then revise the assignments given if it was too hard. Kai should NOT be expected to complete the assignment independently if they are unable)

Part 2: Reinforce work completion: Once Kai is consistently using star chart for tasks across all activities. Teacher and staff will thin use of star chart to give for every 2-3 items completed, then follow same use of access to same access to preferred activity time protocol as above.

Generalize: Skill should be practiced in a variety of settings with multiple people and assignments. Eventually the goal is for Kai to make the request to "break/all done" and tolerate a delay of termination or removal of activity (completing the entire assignment, with enough reinforcement from Part 2 of Reinforcement protocol, however; should Kai make another request by requesting with Break Card, Staff should honor request and follow protocol in Maintain above.

Selection of reinforcer based on: FBA and function of behavior (escape based behavior - reinforcer is removal of what Kai is trying to escape). Selection of part 2 reinforcer based on forced choice preference assessment with Kai.

Example: Complete, detailed description of how the student will be reinforced for use of replacement behavior (FERB). Also note that there is an additional reinforcement strategy for additional desirable behavior (Compliance to tasks/work completion) only after a reinforcement strategy to FERB is described.


Incorporating elements to support Treatment Fidelity, (e.g., cheat sheets, task analyses, and/or checklists) have been shown to increase the consistency, fidelity, and quality of intervention implementation. It is recommended that teams take time to create an Action and Coping Plan to support implementation of the BIP.

Monitoring the effectiveness of "reinforcement" is critical to ensure the success of interventions. If a positive reinforcement intervention appears to be ineffective, the behavior intervention team should evaluate the appropriateness of the reinforcers being used. Ensure that the reinforcer for the use of the FERB allows the student to gain the same result as the challenging behavior. Check with the student to ensure that the selected reinforcers are highly motivating and be prepared to make adjustments in the selection of the reinforcer.

Additionally, reducing how often a student gains access to a reinforcer takes time, with more severe cases requiring more days or sessions. It is important to make gradual adjustments to the reinforcement schedule to minimize the chances of a sharp increase, or burst, in challenging behavior.


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