Seven Stars was founded by Dr. Gordon L. Day, a psychologist and leading expert in assessment and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. Seven Stars’ outcome-driven, innovative Aspergers and autism program design offer two phases. Stabilization is a seven to 14-day acute care stabilization experience for those students who are in crisis and need psychiatric, emotional or behavioural stabilization.
At Seven Stars, it is our belief that using positive motivators is much more effective than using punitive approaches. Behavioral approaches should focus on encouraging desired behaviors through positive attention and rewards. It is often most effective to ignore unwanted behaviors rather than apply some kind of a consequence.
Each day, students start the day in a Launch meeting where they establish a goal they want to work on for the day. Each evening in the Re-entry meeting, students review with staff their progress on the goal for the day.
Students carry a tracking sheet with them in their student binders. For each block of activity throughout the day, the staff mark “pluses” on their tracking sheet for participating appropriately in the desired activity. Staff also note on the tracking sheet what the student is doing well and areas where the student needs to improve. The student’s total number of pluses earns access to desired activities and can be used to purchase items from the student store.
When a student does engage in unwanted behaviors that are significantly disruptive, it is important to understand the function of that behavior. Typically, the student is communicating a need with their negative behavior. Usually, they are overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory issues and need a break. Sometimes they are looking for attention. In these situations a student is directed to take a break and “reboot.” When this happens, staff work with the student on coping skills and communicating about their needs.
Sometimes the student writes or talks through a Behavioral Chain Analysis in which they learn about their needs and generate ideas about how they can handle the situation better next time.
In addition to the daily points and feedback system, staff carry tokens in the form of paper stars. Staff give these tokens to students when they see them engaging in a positive or desired behavior. Students also use these stars to earn desired activities or items from the student store.
This random reinforcement strategy can be especially effective when students are struggling with unwanted behaviors and are very effective at redirecting the behaviors of an individual student or group of students.