Managing Behavior Support Plans in a Post-Pandemic World

EKU Online > Managing Behavior Support Plans in a Post-Pandemic World

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the way we all live our lives, including the daily lives of those who may have behavior support plans. Behavior support plans are used to help prevent the occurrence of challenging behaviors and provide support for the individual and for caregivers in the environment when the behaviors do occur. While learning to manage the impact the pandemic is having on everyone’s life, it may be challenging to continue following behavior plans that have been set forth for the individuals we care for and support. With this change in routine, it is possible that families who are struggling to stick to their behavior plans may notice an increase in their loved one’s challenging behaviors.

The pandemic has significantly changed many routines and losing focus on behavior plans could be just one more change that the family needs to manage. During these periods of change it is extra important to keep positive behavior plans in place so that the family and the person experiencing behavior challenges have some form of consistency.

Sticking to Your Plan

If you are struggling to stick to your plan for approaching challenging behaviors and building replacement behaviors, that is ok! A lot of people are struggling to stick to the daily life routines they had prior to the pandemic. It is, however, helpful to work toward maintaining somewhat of a routine during this time. Everyone needs and thrives on having some form of a routine because it creates a sense of stability and dependability. Having a routine can improve your mental health and minimize the amount of stress and anxiety you experience on the day to day (AltaMed, 2020). As the pandemic continues, it is possible that changes to your home behavior plan and guidance strategies may be required to better suit your family’s new routines. Below are some suggestions for families modifying their loved one’s behavior plan and routines to adapt to the toll the pandemic is having.

  • Anticipate setbacks with skills and behaviors. It may take your loved one some time to regain or re-learn some of their previously learned skills (Williams, 2020). 
  • Consider attending virtual therapies to allow for the continuation of services despite the pandemic (Williams, 2020). Cox, Plavnick, & Brodhead (2020) recommend that telehealth or other remote service delivery methods be utilized during this pandemic if in person services are not possible.
  • Set clear expectations to provide a since of predictability and routine for your loved one and other family members (Williams, 2020). 
  • Utilize a reinforcement strategy with reinforcers that are effective and meaningful to family members to encourages your loved ones to participate in the behavior plan, to make adjustments, and learn and use new skills as needed. Not sure what reinforcers might be effective or motivating?  Ask your ABA provider to help with a preference and reinforcer assessment. 
  • Use a word-based activity planner like the example here or make a visual schedule that is easy for everyone involved to follow.  Find out what visual stimuli are most meaningful to your family, such as words, pictures, photos, or objects.  These can be used to help everyone know what to expect on a given day and time (, 2022).  Even if the events change from day to day or are different from pre-pandemic routines, the unchanging and comforting part of the routine can be the reliable use of the schedule. 

By: Myra Bundy, Ph.D., BCBA, EKU  and Krista Neville, M.S.


AltaMed. (2020, May 28). Why Having a Routine During Quarantine is So Important. Retrieved from AltaMed:
Cox, D. J., Plavnick, J. B., & Brodhead, M. T. (2020). A Proposed Process for Risk Mitigation During the
COVID-19 Pandemic. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 13, 299-305. (2022). Help your teen stick to a routine during COVID-19. Retrieved from
Williams, A. (2020, October 14). Avoiding pandemic setbacks: how telehealth ABA therapy is helping children with autism. Retrieved from baystateparent:

Interested in a career in applied behavior analysis?

Earn your master’s degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for over 15 years. Complete the form to learn more about how you can earn your Master’s in psychology, with a focus in applied behavior analysis or a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis, giving yourself a competitive edge in the job market. Contact us today to get started.

Learn More