Building connections, a description of the relationship that develops between paraprofessionals and children who exhibit challenging behaviours

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Jarco, Bonnie E.
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to obtain a rich description of the relationship that paraprofessionals develop with students who exhibit challenging behaviour. The paraprofessionals interviewed were working with these students in regular classroom settings. These students were determined by Manitoba Education and Training to qualify for Low Incidence Level II and Level III Special Needs support for having Emotional/Behavioural Disorders (EBD) In this study, six paraprofessionals were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format in which descriptive, structural and contrast questions were asked. The data were analysed to identify and explore emerging themes and elements common to paraprofessionals' daily practice. I developed an understanding of the experiences paraprofessionals had when working with these students. From this documentation, I determined the perspectives of the paraprofessionals regarding the type and the quality of the relationships that developed between paraprofessionalsand students who have EBD. Three main themes emerged from the analysis of the data. The theme of respect and caring is shown by acknowledging the individuality of the student, separating the challenging behaviour from the child, praising the child, being firm and consistent, ensuring confidentiality, allowing for independence, and acting like a surrogate parent. The theme of understanding the etiology of behaviour is evident in the paraprofessionals' knowledge of what causes the behaviour and the meaning they give to challenging behaviour. The theme of responses to challenging behaviour included prevention, removal, or helping the students to analyse and understand their actions.