Tier 3: Fostering Feelings of Success

Increase the level of support so the child doesn’t become frustrated by difficult activities

A young boy takes a time out before going to the next activity when he becomes distressed.
A young boy takes a time out before going to the next activity when he becomes distressed.

During some activities, or when the child is going through a difficult time, extra help may be required to make sure the child is successful. Some examples of increased support include:

    • shorten the wait time during activates in which the child’s stress level begins to escalate;
    • decrease or increase the pace of the activity to help the child be able to complete the final step in the routine;
    • accept any attempt the child makes to partially participate in the activity rather than insisting on perfection or full participation;
    • allow short breaks so the child can attempt to self-regulate before continuing the activity;
    • perform any step(s) of the activity the child seems unable or unwilling to complete after allowing plenty of time for the child to try that step.

Deliver information to the child in a form that is accessible, understandable, and accurate

When someone is in distress, we do not want to use complicated or complex language as we intervene. Use consistent strategies with communication form(s) that provide the best visual and auditory access and that are based on the child’s ability to understand the world. In many cases, this means a careful simplification of the event. Keep directions and instruction as simple as possible when the child is showing signs of distress.


Some children require combinations of tangible forms of communications paired with sign or speech, especially if they are in great distress.  For example, a child who is distressed by having to complete an activity that is somewhat aversive such as brushing teeth, might benefit from visiting his activity calendar and holding the object or tactile symbol for a favorite activity and being told “next”.

If the child becomes upset when a favorite activity is delayed, introducing the concept of “wait” and “later” can be helpful. Teaching the child that “wait” is not the same as “no” helps the child to hang in there just a bit longer for the reward of the preferred activity or object.

It is also important that everyone interacting with the student uses the same language, especially in times of distress. The team can benefit from taking time to develop a list of targeted vocabulary to describe activities and situations the child will experience throughout the day.

It is crucial for the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, the Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the classroom teacher and the Speech and Language Pathologist to collaborate in designing and implementing an individualized communication and calendar system.