Behavior Team, L to R: Dr. Tom Grebouski, Chelsea Burrell, Linda Pierce and Wendy Harmon
Dr. Tom Grebouski is chief of psychology for the Monarch School of New England. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at the doctoral level. Tom works with children who are not verbally able to ask a question – yet like any other child, they have behaviors that are both positive and negative.
So what is behavior? According to Tom, it is “everything that someone does.” It can be positive behavior which moves a child towards a helpful goal, or unproductive behavior, which interferes with goals a child’s parent, teacher and staff may have set for him (or her). In order for children to learn, behavior must be addressed with the careful and thoughtful application of individualized approaches while maintaining focus on the whole child.
In essence, behavior is communication.
Tom works with staff at the Monarch School of New England with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles to find the best ways for children to get their needs met. He helps the adults determine why children behave the way they do … and what can be done differently so children can get their needs met without the unproductive behavior.
This functional approach is a cornerstone of clinical interventions at the school. “ABA is much more than just discrete trial training. Children, particularly with developmental or behavioral challenges do not learn without tying that learning into real world associations. In isolation, discrete trial training leads to splinter skills that must later be made functional.”
The approach at the Monarch School of New England encourages the generalizations right from the start within the educational model rather than slowing the student’s growth.
Take, for example, tying one’s shoe. It seems simple enough – we have all learned to do so or to buy shoes that do not require it. In classic discreet trial training, learning to touch a string over ten trials with 90% accuracy has little to no meaning to a student and to his own shoes. Here at our school, to maximize a student’s learning, the task must be broken down into the correct number of steps and then taught in the most connected manner possible as to how they will apply this skill.
This associative approach guides the behavioral team and Monarch School of New England staff in finding ways to motivate a child to go beyond the hurdles.
“We all avoid things we don’t like.”
“For a child who has gone many years without completing a task, that task can be frightening and often very uncomfortable. All therapies work closely together to face the challenge from all sides while supporting the ultimate goal for our students: progress in their education.”
As part of the team, Tom works with physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, education technicians and teachers to help students move forward.
The philosophy at the school is a focus on what students can do – as opposed to what they cannot. Dr. Tom Grebouski’s training and decades of experience with behavior strategies assists the school in doing what it does best: providing unlimited opportunities for students with special needs.