Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Rebecca J. Cook


The increased number of young children with disabilities exhibiting challenging behavior and the negative effects that these challenging behaviors can have on early childhood special educators and the children indicate the need for a careful examination of strategies currently implemented by early childhood special educators. This study surveyed the perceptions of 154 early childhood special educators in the State of Illinois specific to their perceived use and effectiveness of six strategies. The strategies included; positive reinforcement, communication training, time-out, adjustments to the classroom environment, response cost, and medication. Results suggested that early childhood special educators are currently implementing best practice. The strategy participants deemed to be most effective and used most often was positive reinforcement. Participants perceived their use of medication to be the lowest in comparison to other strategies and response cost to be the least effective. Additionally, a relationship seemed to exist between early childhood special educators perceived use and effectiveness of each of the six strategies. In the future, it may be beneficial to conduct this study on a national level to promote generalizability of the results. Examination of a wider variety of studies using observation as a method for obtaining data may also be beneficial.