Positive Behavior Support

Support. We have Customer support, customer care for shopping. We also have the support from friends, from family members and even from some strangers. It could be support in the metal sides, the financial issue, or just simple physical support a fallen down elder person to stand up, sit down.


However, the word “support” carries on the positive side. Do parents need a support? Do children need their parent’s support?

Just like the name “Positive Behavior Support”, this intervention for autism children is marked as the default treatment in some American States. It supports the child with autism first and then associated with the child’s parents to change their own behaviors into the positive side just like the child.

Why some schools in the USA choose PBS as the default to help children with a special need?

Gne would say the first and main reason is about the own PBS intervention. PBS adapted the circumstances need and marketplace interests. In the ABA history, PBS gained some attention in the 1990’s because they approach with slightly different with ABA. PBS focuses on:

  • Increasing the positive behavior
  • Improve lifestyle
  • Decrease the problem behavior
  • Based on valued outcomes, behavioral and biomedical science, empirically supported procedures, and systems change.

By following the PBS main feature and elements, the PBS leaders submitted -> interacted -> got favored from USA Federal and government for funding sources.

After getting support from governors, the PBS leaders use those grant funding sources wisely. They organize -> develop the PBS services-> also marketing effectively to families.

One study can list some elements that families prefer PBS than other treatments:

  • The minimum technical vocabulary because PBS provides nonacademic training to individuals who lack any specific educational or training history. ->  It means it does not require advanced training in the science-based methods of ABA. For example, PBS uses more frequency those words: positive, person-centered, personal dignity, self-determination, stakeholder participation, quality of life, lifestyle change.
  • PBS has largely been described as a treatment model rather than as a research enterprise.

What is the Positive Behavior Support about?

Let’s go back to the Positive Behavior Support – PBS history a little.

PBS in a long time ago was a branch under the ABA treatment. PBS researchers had been growing this intervention and made it as a brand name in the 1990s. -> Since then, families who have autism child love to use this PBS because it focuses on the positive outcome, and it makes the life-changing into the positive.

Here is the definition back then:

“PBS is a framework for developing effective interventions and programs for individuals who exhibit challenging behavior.” – according to Anderson and Freeman in their study in 2000.

According to Carr E. G study in 2002, “PBS is an applied science that uses educational methods to expand an individual’s behavior repertoire and systems change methods to redesign an individual’s living environment to first enhance the individual’s quality of life and, second, to minimize his or her problem behavior”

Nowadays, PBS distinguishes itself from the ABA. Even though the intervention has some new definitions, it’s sometimes mistaken with ABA

No matter what, this discipline has their unique characteristics:

  • person-center -> focus on the child associated with autism
  • meaningful positive outcome
  • multi-intercourses (like analysis, ecological psychology, environmental psychology, community psychology, biomedical science, human development, and education)
  • normalization (the child will have less unique and have more common with their peers)

In the simple word, this intervention is the support from family members, from teachers, from friends helps the child with autism to change their behaviors into the positive outcome. All aggressive behaviors like self-injury can be replaced.

How this PBS processes the treatment to the child with autism?

It follows one completely circle:

  1. Identification of broad goals and behaviors of concern
  2. Gathering and analyzing of information to identify probable patterns affecting behavior
  3. Selecting and delineating strategies based on the patterns and integrating them into a comprehensive plan
  4. Implementing the plan across settings and caregivers
  5. Monitoring outcomes

It usually means the supporters (Gne refers to call like that since the PBS derives from ABA-> it means medical students will choose the ABA -> then focus, specialist in the PBS-> basic, we just call the person will support the child as a therapist, as an RBT – a Registered Behavior Technician) will talk with the child first. Just say so, some autism child has the verbal disability. The trainer will find the way to communicate with the child. The main goal is helping the child to accomplish his or her strength–> as a starting point, the supporter will brainstorm the general life goal for the child.

This intervention doesn’t focus on the child symptoms to correct it. It supports the autism child does what he/she wants, and boost the quality of life. Just like other normal children. What is the autism child’s dream job? By declaring that life goal, the supporter will communicate more with family members, caregivers and teachers for more information. Usually, collecting more information about the child’s strength also the shortcomings to work on it later on. Following 5 main steps above, we need to break it down into smaller daily tasks. After reaching the fifth stage, we can go back and refresh with the new area.

The main strategy to keep PBS flow is the reinforcement.

For example, the autism young child has a sleeping problem, which gets up on time for preparation to school or gets up several times in the night. In the morning, if the parents are nagging the child about get up later than the parent’s desire time, what is the child benefit?

wakeup morning

At first and in the short term, nagging the child might bring the immediate response and correct the child’s behavior. However, what will happen when one day, there are no parents to wake the child up in every morning? A clock alarm? Does it really work with autism child who has a sleeping problem associated?

Reinforcement will do something different with nagging. It depends on the child situation, personalities, the reinforcement will vary. For some child, giving one small reward after the child gets up on time is one way. Saying a good thing is another way. Parents could combine and mix ways for the positive outcomes.

Below is one real-life case study :

Kendrick’s parents sought assistance for his behavior following a terrible holiday season in which his behavior escalated to the point that they cancelled a family gathering. Kendrick was hitting his brother and children at his preschool; throwing and damaging toys and educational materials; crying loudly and dropping to the floor, and perseverating on topics. He was not completing tasks at school and therefore falling behind his peers. His preschool had suggested that ‘another placement might be better’. Kendrick and his family were becoming socially isolated and stressed, and his teacher and other professionals were not able to provide sufficient guidance or support.

Guided by their new PBS practitioner/behavior analyst, Kendrick’s family, teacher, therapists (i.e., speech, OT), participated in a person-centered planning process. The behavior analyst spoke with Kendrick prior to the meeting to get his ideas on what he wanted to achieve (because he was currently unable to tolerate participation). The team established a 3-year positive vision for Kendrick and themselves, building on current strengths and resources to achieve the following goals:

  • Participate in family events, community excursions, and vacations successfully
  • Develop friendships, including play dates and electronic communication
  • Complete all academic assignments and homework, remaining on grade level
  • Engage in sporting activities (since athletics was important to the entire family)
  • Increase joy and reduce stress for everyone involved, accepting no limits

As described above, Kendrick’s team was engaged through the person-centered planning process. They each “signed on” to his plan, making a commitment to respect one another’s contributions, communicate openly, and contribute to the overall vision. They agreed to work as a team to assist with the assessment process by gathering information, participate in selecting and implementing strategies (at a next meeting), and track outcomes to ensure that interventions were successful.

The behavior analyst recorded detailed data when present, but was only available a few hours per week. Therefore, it was important for Kendrick’s parents, teacher, and therapists to capture progress across settings and activities. His teacher agreed to complete a daily behavior rating and track assignments he started and completed. His therapists verbally shared their behavior rating with the parents. Kendrick’s parents recorded all major incidents (e.g., aggression, property damage, and lengthy “meltdowns”), including events preceding and following them because they wanted to understand the patterns.

The behavior analyst knew she needed to use her time efficiently and therefore asked Kendrick’s parents to identify the best and worst times of day, scheduling ABC observations during those periods. Kendrick’s parents and teacher completed lengthy functional assessment questionnaires. but his therapists and others (e.g., baby sitter, grandparent, brother) simply shared anecdotal data related to the possible variables affecting his behavior. 

His parents developed a family calendar that displayed upcoming events, travel plans, and when each of them would be absent due to work obligations. His teacher decided to modify lessons to provide additional structure and redefined expected behavior across activities for all children since she found these strategies to be helpful for her entire class.

As described above, Kendrick’s team participated fully in the design of the strategies, improving their contextual fit. They did, however, find that they needed to adjust how strategies were implemented across circumstances. His teacher did not have time to construct social stories and therefore shared the details of upcoming events with Kendrick’s parents so that they could prepare him. Peers varied in their willingness to patiently explain circumstances to Kendrick and therefore were hand-picked as work partners and play mates. Kendrick’s parents tried a variety of extracurricular and sports activities before finding options that naturally provided the structure that Kendrick needed to be successful. 

As is evident in this case example, Kendrick’s parents bought into the process quickly. They did not, however, know how to analyze circumstances affecting Kendrick’s behavior or design and implement effective strategies. The behavior analyst provided them with user-friendly reading materials on the principles of PBS, tools for gathering information, and step-by-step guides for implementing the strategies within each targeted routine (e.g., family gatherings, sports activities). With these resources, the parents became expert problem-solvers. The teacher and administration at Kendrick’s school did not engage in the process as readily. During initial contacts, they were hesitant to deviate from their typical practices and to ‘do all this for just one student’. With support of the rest of the team, they gradually learned that the new strategies were more efficient than what they were currently doing (e.g., counseling Kendrick on his behavior, managing crises) and that the principles could be applied to all of their students.

As a result of this collaborative process, Kendrick met all of his goals within one year. He was completing at least 90 percent of his tasks at school and monitoring his own progress. He also began doing chores at home. He was able to enjoy time with his brother and peers, without requiring constant adult supervision or aggression. Kendrick had two sleepovers, attended birthday parties, and played online video games with friends. He began competing in running events with his father. His family resumed their busy social life, traveling to visit relatives and hosting events. Kendrick learned to devise his own social stories by asking the right questions. The need for behavioral services diminished to a consultative basis, but the team continued to work effectively together to plan and address concerns as needed.” 

​Reference from a study in 2015 about PSB​. 


Where will the child get the supports?

The supports will follow the child to everywhere he/she goes. Just like a stalker. In the house based, parents provide the support. In the school, teachers also get informed to support the child’s academy. Caregivers and teacher watch if the child’s peers give some supports or not.

And the where-to-go place for the service delivery is Positive behavior Support Corp.

 Who is benefited from PBS?

The children associated with autism are the common population who use this service. However, with those features, other disabled children can benefit as well.

Have you used this PBS services? This short animated video will demonstrate it.

Leave your thought about PBS services below.

P/S: Gne would like to sorry who visit this website because Gne was in delay. Gne knows this topic about ASD doesn’t meet your interest and your needy information. However, Gne still consistently writes until this website’s expired date.

Thank you for reading so far.

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