Methods and Strategies: Positive Behavioral Supports

Positive behavioral supports are used within a program to promote behavioral change. They are built on the following assumptions about behavior and the effectiveness of interventions:

• Challenging behaviors serve a function for the child.
• Challenging behaviors are context related.
• Effective interventions are based on a thorough understanding of the problem
• Behavior support plans should be guided by a strong value base.

Positive behavior supports are driven by a thorough understanding of the problem behavior and its function. Interventions are related to specific hypotheses that address the function of the behavior. Reduction of problem behaviors is a result of teaching alternative skills and modifying the child’s environment. Positive behavioral supports include multiple interventions to increase the plan’s effectiveness. These may include teaching alternative skills, modifying antecedent and setting events, implementing consequence strategies, and designing crisis management procedures. The positive behavioral supports approach holds a broadened view of intervention success by evaluating whether improvements in the use of alternative behaviors have been maintained across time and generalized across settings, whether improvements have occurred in the child’s quality of life, and whether the intervention has positively impacted on the child’s health and well-being. Positive behavioral supports are process-oriented, requiring ongoing team problem solving for understanding the nature of the problem and for designing effective behavioral support plans.

This approach uses multiple intervention strategies to build long lasting behavioral change. It blends effective practices in both instruction and behavior management to produce meaningful results. A collaborative team approach is helpful in identifying antecedent strategies such as instructional modifications, schedule changes, or environmental changes; alternative skills training; consequence strategies; and long-term prevention strategies. A problem-solving process which includes the following elements is used in developing a personalized plan for an individual child:

• Identify the behavior.
• Assess the behavior.
• Develop hypothesis statements.
• Select intervention strategies and modifications.
• Write a plan.
• Implement the personalized plan.
• Document progress.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of the plan.
• Modify or terminate the plan.

The written plan includes:
• Background information
• Description of the problem and statement of current performance
• Goal statements for performance
• Hypotheses statements for the function of the behavior
• Intervention strategies related to the function of the behavior
• Specific evaluation procedures
• Supports needed for implementors.

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