First Advisor

Gershwin, Tracy

First Committee Member

Sileo, Nancy

Second Committee Member

Pierce, Corey

Third Committee Member

Athanasiou, Michelle

Document Type


Date Created



Special education teachers are tasked with ensuring the implementation of a free appropriate public education, which might also include supporting students who demonstrate severe problem behavior (SPB). Often, students with emotional and behavioral disorders are likely to engage in SPB in various forms such as physical aggression and property destruction. While definitions surrounding the term SPB vary, there is a general consensus within the field for interventions to address these types of dangerous behaviors. Unfortunately, students who demonstrate similarly concerning behavior are likely to experience some type of emergency intervention such as physical restraint or seclusion. These practices are problematic as they are associated with various physical (e.g., death) and mental health conditions (e.g., trauma). This study included three students with emotional behavior disorders in a public school setting who had a history of SPB and previous experience with restraint and/or seclusion procedures. Through implementation of a multiple baseline across behaviors design, SPB was assessed through a practical functional assessment and subsequent treatment which included skill-based treatment within an enhanced choice model (ECM). Each participant demonstrated a reduction in SPB responses throughout the treatment phases in comparison to elevated SPB in the baseline condition. Further, this study demonstrated an increase in emissions of functional communicative responses that gradually became more complex over time. Results of this study suggest that through the use of the ECM, participants’ SPB was decreased by teaching functional communicative responses. Further, this study demonstrated that through the use of the ECM, physical management and prompting procedures were not necessary. This dissertation presented associated findings in addition to social validity measures from school-based staff who observed each phase of assessment and treatment.

Abstract Format



179 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.