General Interaction Strategies


The following procedures have been developed to equip parents, extended family members, friends, personal care assistants, teachers, group home staff and day treatment staff to be more effective with children or adults who engage in challenging behavior. General Interaction Strategies (GIS) provide caregivers with a solid foundation of skills that are frequently used when interacting with children or adults who may engage in challenging behavior. In many situations, once caregivers have learned the basic skills trained in GIS, specific behavior plans can be developed for improving skill acquisition, reducing problem behavior, and building independence.


There are a variety of options available for structuring the training sessions. Training may occur in 1:1 sessions with a family member or staff. An entire family or team of staff can be trained. One, two, or multiple-day workshop training is also available for staff working in schools, group homes, daycares, day treatment centers, or agencies in which people interact with individuals who engage in problematic behavior.


Caregivers will be trained to use the following procedures, which will be addressed using the actual behaviors, activities, and situations that are specific for each client. These procedures will be taught to caregivers before moving on to development of behavior plans to deal with specific behaviors. The procedures to be taught include:

1. Reinforcement Strategies

  • Identifying behavior to reinforce
  • Identifying reinforcing items and activities
  • Noticing and responding/praising/reinforcing appropriate behaviors

2. Offering Choices

  • Presenting choices of tasks that must get done
  • Giving choices to maintain appropriate behavior
  • Presenting options when you want to help your child structure their free play, while maintaining appropriate behaviors

3. Giving Instructions

  • Delivering instructions in the best way at the best time
  • Following through with instructions and providing reinforcement

4. Responding to Requests

  • Honoring appropriate requests as often and as quickly as possible
  • Responding when you are unable to honor a request

5. Redirection Techniques

  • Offering choices of more appropriate alternative behaviors when your child is off-task or behaving inappropriately
  • Presenting appropriate alternatives without interacting with the individual

6. Responding to Upsets

  • Knowing when and how to ignore inappropriate behaviors
  • Knowing when and how to re-engage with your child when they are behaving appropriately

7. Additional notes

  • Additional topics may be added as needed on an individual basis


For each of the topics covered, there will be a specific set of steps that will be followed:

1. Information provided via: written materials, discussions, questions and answer
2. Modeling which may include: staff demonstrating the techniques or video clips
3. Caregiver rehearsal with feedback from staff
4. Caregiver practicing with the individual and receiving feedback from the trainer


The skills that are taught in the GIS are skills that can be used throughout an individual’s life. Our goal is to empower you to be able to identify skills that you can use to encourage appropriate behaviors in all situations. Not only will you be able to use these skills with the people with whom you live or work, but you will also be able to teach other people in the individual’s life (e.g., grandparents, siblings, PCAs, babysitters) to use these same skills to create a very consistent environment for the individual – so you are all sending the same message regarding what behaviors are important and appropriate!


Funding for the GIS is specific to the client’s situation and goals of the team. Medical Assistance may be billed in some cases. In other situations, individual or group rates are available.


For more information, please contact us.

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