Ethan and His Super Powers

January 07, 2019

Ethan didn’t always like school.

He hated it, actually.
His teacher, his classroom, his desk, and the books – the books were the worst of all! The papers, pencils, lessons and other kids — awful. Ethan even hated the bus that took him to school.

But all that changed. Ethan loves coming to school now.
His parents say he talks about his teachers all night until the minute his eyes shut, his sleepy little head on the pillow.
His teachers say he is excited to learn and is making nice progress towards his IEP goals.
His friend, William says Ethan is the funniest kid he knows.
Mrs. Mary, Ethan’s bus driver, says she’s flabbergasted at how Ethan comes running out his front door in the mornings, now dashing to the bus. She says he chatters the whole hour drive to school about what is planned for his day. She can’t believe the difference.


So what happened? What changed Ethan’s attitude so drastically? What changed his behaviors?

What happened is that Ethan earned some superpowers.

Sounds kinda strange? Let me explain.

Since Ethan wasn’t doing well at school (before),  his parents, teachers, therapists and special education chairwoman had a meeting called a “CSE meeting.” At this meeting the chairwoman suggested that Ethan might do better at an ABA school. That he might be happier and make better progress. She told them about Crossroads Center for Children.

A few weeks later Ethan started in a classroom at Crossroads with a highly trained team of a special education teacher, teaching assistants, and therapists for all of the related services Ethan needs, including a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). A behavior plan was developed for him – a plan that was very specific to his needs, interests, and the functions of his behaviors.

For the first time in his young life, Ethan started to earn positive reinforcement for the behaviors he was asked to demonstrate at school.

So instead of losing his playtime for screaming and kicking his teacher, now he would earn a power for using his words to ask for a short break and for completing his work without aggressions or outbursts.

His powers? Well, he could pick from flying, breath, mind-reading, and space. In the beginning, two minutes of following his “rules” would get him a power icon. He could pick his power and put it on his board, and when he earned 3 icons, he could cash them in for 5 minutes of free time. As he got the idea, more and more he was able to be successful at higher percentages. The time increased from 2 minutes of appropriate behaviors to 30 before earning a power.

Since Ethan wants to be a superhero when he grows up, this plan is helping him practice. He is very motivated in his plan because it reflects his own goals for his life.

He still has occasional times where he doesn’t use his words and screams at a staff member. He finds losing at a game the hardest thing of all but waiting his turn when a classmate is reading  is also a challenge. But he is learning new coping skills to get through these challenges and he is earning 90% of the time. He’s happy and loves school and the people at his school enjoy his thoughtful comments, bright energy and sharp sense of humor.

And that’s all for now about Ethan and his Super Powers.

Ethan, by the way, is a name given to this boy who represents a combination of different children we have now and have had in the past. The name was changed, along with actual specific details in order to protect confidentiality of our students, while still conveying the moral of the story, that of the power of behavior plans and ABA practice.

Thanks to our terrific Behavior Therapists and Technicians! Want to know more about Applied Behavior Analysis? Start here, on our ABA Clinic page:

Interested in ABA? You might also enjoy the following past article:

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