Positive Interventions for Challenging Behaviour in Students with Severe Disabilities

Positive Interventions for Challenging Behaviour in Students with Severe Disabilities


This course is run over 6 x 1.5 hour online sessions.

This course will address functional assessment of problem behaviour, the design of interventions and supports based on functional assessment, monitoring of behaviour change and evaluation of interventions. In addition, teachers will be introduced to a range of accessible web-based resources.

Teachers will learn to:

  • Select and use a range of direct and indirect assessment strategies (interviews, questionnaires, scatter plots, antecedent-behaviour-consequence analysis, brief functional analysis) to identify the functions of problem behaviour
  • Identify alternate acceptable behaviours to replace challenging behaviours
  • Select or develop and use a range of antecedent and consequent interventions and supports, based on the identified function, to reduce problem behaviour
  • Select or develop and use appropriate practical monitoring strategies to allow evaluation of interventions and supports
  • Evaluate the impact of interventions and supports
Prior to the course:
  • Participants are encouraged to select a student with challenging behaviour to focus on during the course, so the strategies introduced can be put to practical use.
  • Participants will be asked to complete a brief survey  (for thier own use) before the course.
During the course:
  • There will be opportunities to discuss assessment, intervention, and monitoring for focus students during the course.
  • There will be suggested activities to carry out in relation to the focus student during the course and email advice will be available from the presenters.


  1. Teachers in general education classrooms in which one or more children with severe disabilities is included
  2. Teachers in special schools or in units in mainstream schools (these teachers may or may not have special education qualifications) working with students with severe disabilities.


Jennifer Stephenson, Expert Panel, InSpEd

Dr Jennifer Stephenson

B SC, Dip Ed, Dip SKTC, Grad Dip Special Education, PhD

Dr Jennifer Stephenson is currently an honorary associate professor at Macquarie University, supervising research students and carrying out research in special education. She has taught at Western Sydney University, University of Technology (where she co-ordinated the special education program) and at Macquarie. She has acted as Director for the Macquarie University Special Education Centre, and prior to moving to university teaching was Assistant Principal at a school for specific purposes.

Jennifer has been active in the Australian Association of Special Education (AASE) for over 20 years, and has served as president and vice-president of the NSW chapter and vice-president of the national organisation. She has been editor of the AASE journal, the Australasian Journal of Special Education and associate editor of Special Education Perspectives. Jennifer has been a consulting editor for the journal Alternative and Augmentative Communication. She has served on the board of Best Buddies, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes and supports friendships for people with intellectual disability. She was a member of the Students with Disability Advisory Group for ACARA.

Jennifer has provided consultation and professional learning to many schools educating students with severe disability and had been an expert witness in court cases involving teachers and students with disability. 

Coral Kemp, Expert Panel, InSpEd

Dr Coral Kemp

BA, Dip Ed, MA (Spec Ed), PhD

Dr Coral Kemp has been involved in the education of children in both ‘regular’ and special settings in the capacity of regular class teacher, teacher-in charge of a one and later two teacher school in remote Western Australia, special class teacher, early intervention teacher, resource teacher, consultant, program director, deputy principal, and acting principal. This has involved working for two state departments of education, the NSW Association of Independent Schools, a community-based disability organisation and Macquarie University.

Coral has also contributed to special education courses at three universities, and was course co-ordinator for a number of special education courses at Macquarie University over fifteen years. She is currently an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University where she is still involved in collaborative research.   Coral has acted as an independent consultant to schools with respect to the inclusion of students with disabilities, as an advocate for families who need assistance in relation to their children’s educational placements and as an expert witness in cases involving students with disability.