Acquisition vs. Performance Deficit

Challenging behaviors will ALWAYS arise when the environment demands from a student:

  • A skill or behavior the student does not possess OR
  • A skill or behavior the student is not properly motivated to exhibit

Determining which of these deficits a student is displaying is the essential first step in identifying and developing an intervention that will appropriately target the student’s challenges.


Acquisition Deficit

Performance Deficit

Cause of

Challenging Behavior

The student has not acquired the requisite skills to meet the academic, behavioral, social, or emotional demands of the environment

The student is insufficiently supported and/or insufficiently motivated by their environment to utilize the skills or behaviors they already possess

Focus of the Intervention

Intervention that focuses on teaching the student lagging skills or behaviors to effectively meet the demands of the environment

Intervention that is embedded within the environment that prompts and motivates the student to use skills/behaviors they are already fully capable of exhibiting

Sample Interventions

  • Social Skills Training
  • Emotional Regulation Training
  • Behavior Regulation Training
  • Anger Management Training
  • Executive Functioning Curriculum
  • Trauma - Focused Curriculum

  • Behavior Contract
  • School-Home Note
  • Check-in/Check-out
  • Self-Monitoring
  • Class Pass Intervention
  • Positive-Peer Reporting