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Red and Green Choices
A Positive Behavioral Development
Strategy for Students with Autism or Behavioral
Green (2003) © "Red and Green
How to Cite/Reference Irene's "Red and Green
Throughout Irene's experiences during her first few years working in
MH classrooms, she became very interested and focused on students with
severe behavioral disorders. She witnessed many students throwing
chairs or other objects across classrooms, attacking school personnel,
biting themselves and displaying many other maladaptive behavioral
concerns. She became intent on focusing on a “behavior first”
strategy. Irene began focusing on the “why” or “how” these now severe
long-standing behavioral patterns were developed, and needed an approach for her and other
classroom teachers to stop such severe behaviors before they became
what she calls in her book, an “eventual uncontrollable situation”.
Her method to specifically concentrate on developing positive
alternative student behaviors became known as Red and Green
Choices, through teaching students how to adapt and react
different environmental stimulus.
Red and Green Choices
interventions address the implementation of setting high, reasonable,
and achievable behavioral standards, then expecting students to choose
acceptable and tolerable green solutions to situations. The strategy
promotes always talking, writing words, or drawing pictures of green
choice behavioral solutions to each and every behavioral response as
they occur, in green. It also promotes the same for unacceptable and
intolerable red responses to stimuli, in red. Red and Green Choices
interventions provide immediate feedback to undesired behavioral
responses as soon as they occur, then encourages practicing the
opposite green choice behavior in a “designated area” with a “designated
adult” until it is learned or developed, by breaking down
behaviors into their smallest sequential green steps. The designated
adult begins the "behavioral trust" process with each child
Red and Green Choices allows
students to be attentive to their behaviors, formulate informed
decisions, while making their expectations and environment predictable
and clear. Irene believes that choosing “green” becomes the
student’s behavioral responsibility through attentive adult guided
positive interventions. Red and Green Choices provides exact
expectations for students and adults using colors, choices,
predictability, structure, and positive intervention strategies while
focusing on the positive outcome (expectation), instead of repeating
negative information through overstimulation. A key component to the
program includes providing a behavioral “explanation, expectation,
choice”, and allowing a reciprocal trustworthy behavioral
relationship between the adult implementing Red and Green Choices
and the child receiving its interventions, based upon Irene's own
theory of "behavioral trust".
Red and Green Choices
can become a very strong, intensive and meaningful relationship
between teachers and their students. Most children begin to really
enjoy and thrive with their Red and Green Choices, because it
provides predictability and structure to their environment while
making the adults around them calm, assertive, firm, predictable and
proud. Students quickly decide they do not like the red consequences
to their red behavioral choices. Red becomes a much disliked stimulus
- even an adult just holding up their red marker across the classroom
- after students learn appropriate replacement or alternative
behaviors. The pictures or writings develop into very powerful tools
to promote exact understanding of behavioral expectations. The
principles include meeting and exceeding the needs of students, staff
and parents. This means teacher’s needs are met, too.
behaviors are managed, then Red and Green Choices can be used
to assist with academic tasks. More time becomes available for
children to intently focus on academic task completion
This behavioral intervention strategy continues to be an expanding
supportive tool to many as the title book, “Red and Green Choices,
A Positive Behavioral Development Strategy...” was featured in the
May/June 2004 edition of Autism-Asperger’s Digest magazine.
Then in October 2006, The British "Good Autism Practice Journal"
comprised a book review
of "Red and Green Choices". (link:
Green (2003) © "Red and Green
Red and Green Choices:
Can be your program's school-wide behavioral response and intervention plan,
Through distinct adult actions and reactions based on positive behavioral
strategies and principles,
Instead of using a reward/punishment system -
By allowing students and adults the opportunities to develop "behavioral
trust" with each other
With Irene's 13 Fundamentals to
effective and successful strategies...
►Allow students to choose
►Set high, reasonable and achievable behavioral
►Always provide explanations, expectations and
►Remain calm, firm, consistent, helpful and
truthful throughout the behavior change process
Principals / Administrators:
Assist your staff with behavior change solutions using positive supports
Provide exact staff expectations with individual students
Show adults how to act and react to create preventive and assertive
strategies with academics and behavioral concerns
Alter staff wording with Irene's Model of "Behavioral Rules of
Engagement" - make every situation as positive as possible with "green
choices" and "red choices"
Applying Common Behavioral Theories & Principles through
Visual Concrete Strategies to Develop Individual Adaptive
and Reasoning Skills Based Upon Irene’s Theory of Developing
a Reciprocal Positive “Behavioral Trust" Relationship
with a Child
Positive Behavioral Development
Like Shaping, Positive Reinforcement, Pairing, Modeling,
Positive-Practice Overcorrection, Reinforcement of
Incompatible & Appropriate Behavior, Antecedent Stimulus,
Chaining, Task Analysis, Fading...
of Developing a Positive "Behavioral Trust"
Relationship with a child -instead of misunderstanding a child or not meeting the needs
of a child and developing a
"Behavioral Mistrust" relationship...
along with other principles;
"Self-Prompting" - "Positive Opposites" -
"Designated Adult" - "Designated Area"
a Priority Chart For You to Effectively Take Your Own
"Red and Green Choices
Behavioral Stand; A 10 Part Plan to Developing a Specific
Individual Approach" - to Address Behaviors & Implement Your
This visual support system of
applying behavioral principles is not by any means a "quick
fix". It is a long-term strategy of developing behaviors
appropriate for an individual through positive means, and
supporting one's feelings, communicative and developmental
needs. The adult implementing the program must always meet a
student's calming needs and remain truthful to them while
remaining in charge of safe situations.
First, the basics of classroom structure,
organization and management; schedules,
predictability, consistency, and other classroom fundamentals
should be securely in place, successful and
Once this is occurring, and one is ready to intently develop
individual behaviors particular to those students with ASD
or other concerns-
then Red and Green Choices could be introduced.
One should be familiar with common behavioral principles and
be experienced in working with children on the Autism
Spectrum, through positive means - as defined in literature and textbooks, before
beginning any behavior change program. Parental
communication is also a key element to any program. Another
key element is incorporating the ideas that students
must always be able to communicate their needs
accordingly, while feeling and being safe and secure.
A Positive Behavioral Development Strategy
for Students with Autism or Behavioral
2003 Green Irene All rights
will gain respect for the behavioral process and realize that
developing positive behaviors increases their adaptation skills. In
other words, it makes their environment more predictable and easier
for them to handle. Students become prepared and familiar with Red and
Green Choices, and choose the outcomes to their behavioral choices."
"The intention... provide children
and adults with exact incompatible expectations and exact incompatible
consequences, using positive opposites... The charts, lists, pictures
and drawings communicate exact understanding of needs and expectations
for both adults and children."
|"My personal philosophy:
I have always approached students with severe behavioral concerns with
a "behavior first, then academics" system and truly believe in this
approach. Once behaviors are calmed, managed and regulated, children
have the opportunity to begin to focus intently on academic skill
achievement. More time becomes available for academics. Red and Green
Choices, however specified by adults, can then be included in any
academic task to build upon academic skill competencies."
Learn Irene's Own Successful &
Effective "Red and Green Choices" Behavioral Theories and Techniques:
"The Ultimate Green Choice"
"Two-Finger Fast Choice"
"Explanation, Expectation, Choice" "Behavioral
"That (designated and behaviorally
trusted) adult becomes a static and concrete tool for that child to
"I am behaviorally
training students when I say: "it is ok". This is a situation
I know they will be happy about in the end. The student may be
scared or very nervous, but I know through predicting behavior
and seeing the entire red and green process, that they will
get through it with my red and green support. So, eventually,
if I say: "it is ok", the student knows it will be difficult
to go through, but they will survive. This could be a
situation like seeing a fire truck with their grade-level
classmates or joining the school for an assembly. This may
also go back to the "black and white, no gray area" and
literal thinking for students with Autism- the student may
actually believe they cannot, and then will not survive the
particular school situation. It is the adult’s responsibility
to ensure student’s feelings are always considered when
changing behavioral patterns and to develop behavioral trust
...If you tell a child it is ok - be sure the end result is a
student having the feeling: yes it was ok and I will do it
again tomorrow. If this student feeling is not present and
they will not do it again tomorrow, then it was NOT ok. This
will develop behavioral mistrust, and students with Autism
thinking literal and "black and white" - it was NOT ok and the
adult is not behaviorally trustworthy."
self-prompting visual red and green aids will assist with remembering
what to do in the other environment."
positively adapting to the school environment may be too much to
handle at that particular time, it becomes the adult’s responsibility
for calmness to remain."
"I believe with an accurate, precise,
positive and clear system of behavioral strategies and supports like
Red and Green Choices, any student with even the most severe
behavioral predisposition can succeed in an inclusive school
environment along with their same age peers."
..."Adults know it is because it
is an adaptive behavior to be displayed within a school setting. But
students are probably displaying positive green behaviors for a
different reason. Students want to see smiling adult faces and earn
their favorite activity. Until students understand the "just because"
social aspect of displaying appropriate behaviors within specific
environments, then adults must manipulate the consequences so
adaptation behaviors are displayed. Students need to eventually find
positive ways to adapt to their environment. Adults need to provide
assistance and understanding for eventual independent adaptation
cannot control what the student chooses to display. But, an adult can
promote the student choosing green by being attentive to the needs of
the child. If the consequences meet the desires of the student, then
the student will try to display green choice behaviors. "
"Choosing green becomes the
student’s behavioral responsibility through attentive adult guided
matter how simple or undisruptive behaviors may seem at their initial
stage, children need immediate feedback to any and all behaviors to
prevent eventual uncontrollable situations."
"Sitting is an imperative school
function and begins at the preschool level. To sit is a small
individual green behavior while the complex green behavior is learning
(developing) sitting for extended periods of time, remaining quiet,
raising your hand and completing a task. The sitting skill often needs
to be taught because students with Autism and behavioral concerns
often see this as not something fun, and something they would rather
...Or, it may be a
misunderstood or non-expected behavior. Never assume a child realizes
or knows behavioral expectations based upon their same-aged peers.
Just because the group is displaying the sitting skill does not mean a
child with Autism will assume that particular behavioral
responsibility naturally. It may need to be developed or learned
through intensive means. Also, the child with Autism may learn
differently than typically developing peers due to how information is
processed. The exact behavior or expectation may need to be
specifically explained. This may hold true for many school-based
expectations. So red and green will condition sitting through shaping
and other behavioral principles. So Red and Green Choices will
condition sitting through shaping and other behavioral principles."
For Pictures / Printable Charts & More Behavioral
Descriptions: Refer to the Links Below
© 2008 Green Irene
The Material Presented from "Red
and Green Choices", Is Based Upon Irene's Own Behavioral
Strategies, and What Types of Behavioral
Outcomes With Her and Her Students When Applying Red and Green Choices Behavioral Principles