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Positive behavior support is a form of applied behavior analysis (ABA) that uses a system to understand what maintains an individual's challenging behavior. People's inappropriate behaviors are difficult to change because they are functional; they serve a purpose for them. These behaviors are supported by reinforcement in the environment. In the case of students and children, often adults in a child’s environment will reinforce his or her undesired behaviors because the child will receive objects and/or attention because of his behavior. Functional behavior assessments (FBAs) clearly describe behaviors, identifies the contexts (events, times, and situation) that predict when behavior will and will not occur, and identifies consequences that maintain the behavior. It also summarizes and creates a hypothesis about the behavior, and directly observes the behavior and takes data to get a baseline. The positive behavior support process involves goal identification, information gathering, hypothesis development, support plan design, implementation and monitoring.
In order for techniques to work in decreasing undesired behavior, they should include: feasibility, desirability, and effectiveness. Strategies are needed that teachers and parents are able and willing to use and that have an impact on the child's ability to participate in community and school activities. Positive behavior support is increasingly being recognized as a strategy that meets these criteria. By changing stimulus and reinforcement in the environment and teaching the child to strengthen deficit skill areas the student's behavior changes in ways that allow him/her to be included in the general education setting. The three areas of deficit skills identified in the article were communication skills, social skills, and self-management skills. Re-directive therapy as positive behavior support is especially effective in the parent–child relationship. Where other treatment plans have failed re-directive therapy allows for a positive interaction between parents and children. Positive behavior support is successful in the school setting because it is primarily a teaching method (Swartz, 1999).[full citation needed]
|The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with USA and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2012)|
Schools are required to conduct functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and use positive behavior support with students who are identified as disabled and are at risk for expulsion, alternative school placement, or more than 10 days of suspension. Even though FBA is required under limited circumstances it is good professional practice to use a problem-solving approach to managing problem behaviors in the school setting (Crone & Horner 2003).
The use of Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) in schools is widespread (Sugai & Horner, 2002). The program offers a primary, secondary, and tertiary level of intervention. A basic tenet of the PBIS approach includes identifying students in one of three categories based on risk for behavior problems. Once identified, students receive services in one of three categories: primary, secondary, or tertiary. To help practitioners with differences in interventions used at each of the levels the professional literature refers to a three-tiered (levels) model (Stewart, Martella, Marchand-Martella, & Benner, 2005; Sugai, Sprague, Horner & Walker, 2000; Tobin & Sugai, 2005; Walker et al., 1996.) Interventions are specifically developed for each of these levels with the goal of reducing the risk for academic or social failure. These interventions may be behavioral and or academic interventions incorporating scientifically proven forms of instruction such as direct instruction. The interventions become more focused and complex as one examines the strategies used at each level.
Primary prevention strategies focus on interventions used on a school-wide basis for all students (Sugai & Horner, 2002). This level of prevention is considered "primary" because all students are exposed in the same way, and at the same level, to the intervention. The primary prevention level is the largest by number. Approximately 80–85% of students who are not at risk for behavior problems respond in a positive manner to this prevention level. Primary prevention strategies include, but are not limited to, using effective teaching practices and curricula, explicitly teaching behavior that is acceptable within the school environment, focusing on ecological arrangement and systems within the school, consistent use of precorrection procedures, using active supervision of common areas, and creating reinforcement systems that are used on a school-wide basis (Lewis, Sugai, & Colvin, 1998; Martella & Nelson, 2003; Nelson, Crabtree, Marchand-Martella & Martella, 1998; Nelson, Martella, & Marchand-Martella, 2002.)
Secondary prevention strategies involve students (i.e., 10–15% of the school population) who do not respond to the primary prevention strategies and are at risk for academic failure or behavior problems but are not in need of individual support (Nelson, et al., 2002).[full citation needed] Interventions at the secondary level often are delivered in small groups to maximize time and effort and should be developed with the unique needs of the students within the group. Examples of these interventions include social support such as social skills training (e.g., explicit instruction in skill-deficit areas, friendship clubs, check in/check out, role playing) or academic support (i.e., use of research-validated intervention programs and tutoring). Additionally, secondary programs could include behavioral support approaches (e.g., simple Functional Behavioral Assessments [FBA], precorrection, self-management training). Even with the heightened support within secondary level interventions, some students (1–7%) will need the additional assistance at the tertiary level (Walker et al., 1996).
Tertiary prevention programs focus on students who display persistent patterns of disciplinary problems (Nelson, Benner, Reid, Epstein, & Currin, 2002). Tertiary-level programs are also called intensive or individualized interventions and are the most comprehensive and complex. The interventions within this level are strength-based in that the complexity and intensity of the intervention plans directly reflect the complexity and intensity of the behaviors. Students within the tertiary level continue involvement in primary and secondary intervention programs and receive additional support as well. These supports could include use of full FBA, de-escalation training for the student, heightened use of natural supports (e.g., family members, friends of the student), and development of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
Although comprehensive services are important for all students, a critical aspect of the three-tiered model is the identification of students at one of the three levels. One method of identifying students in need of interventions is to analyze office disciplinary referrals (ODR) taken at the school (Irvin et al., 2006).[full citation needed] ODRs may be a means of both identifying students' risk level for antisocial behavior and school failure (Walker et al., 1996). Researchers have advocated analyzing this naturally occurring data source as a relatively cheap, effective, and ongoing measurement device for PBS programs (Irvin et al., 2006;[full citation needed] Putnam, Luiselli, Handler, & Jefferson, 2003; Sprague et al., 2001;[full citation needed] Sugai et al., 2000; Tidwell, Flannery, & Lewis-Palmer, 2003; Walker, Cheney, Stage, & Blum, 2005.
ODRs have also been shown to be effective in determining where students fall within a three-leveled model (Sugai et al., 2000), developing professional development as well as helping coordinate school efforts with other community agencies (Tobin & Sugai, 1997;[full citation needed] Tobin, Sugai, & Colvin, 2000,) predicting school failure in older grades as well as delinquency (Sprague et al., 2001),[full citation needed] indicating types of behavior resulting in referrals (Putnam et al., 2003), and determination of the effectiveness of precorrection techniques (Oswald, Safran, & Johanson, 2005).[full citation needed] Analyzing discipline referral data can also help school personnel identify where to improve ecological arrangements within a school and to recognize how to increase active supervision in common areas (Nelson, Martella, & Galand, 1998;[full citation needed] Nelson et al., 2002[full citation needed]). A limitation of only using ODRs to measure behavior problems is that they have been found to be ineffective at measuring internalizing behavior problems such as anxiety, depression, and withdrawal.
Functional behavior assessment (FBA) emerged from applied behavior analysis. It is the first step in individual and cornerstone of a Positive Behavior Support plan. The assessment seeks to describe the behavior and environmental factors and setting events that predict the behavior in order to guide the development of effective support plans. Assessment lays the foundation of PBS. The assessment includes:
In some cases, the problem behavior identified in the functional behavior assessment is further analyzed by conducting a behavior chain analysis—in which the sequences of behavior that build up to the problem behavior become the focus.
The results of the assessment help in developing the individualized behavior support plan. This outlines procedures for teaching alternatives to the behavior problems, and redesign of the environment to make the problem behavior irrelevant, inefficient, and ineffective.
Another avenue of functional behavior assessment is growing in popularity—it is called behavior chain analysis. In behavior chain analysis, one looks at the progressive changes of behavior as they lead to problem behavior and then attempts to disrupt this sequence. Whereas FBA is concerned mostly with setting-antecedent-behavior-consequence relations, the behavior chain analysis looks at the progression of behavior, such as first the child may fidget, then he might begin to tease others, then he might start to throw things, and then finally hit another student.
There are many different behavioral strategies that PBS can use to encourage individuals to change their behavior. Some of these strategies are delivered through the consultation process to teachers. The strong part of functional behavior assessment is that it allows interventions to directly address the function (purpose) of a problem behavior. For example, a child who acts out for attention could receive attention for alternative behavior (contingency management) or the teacher could make an effort to increase the amount of attention throughout the day (satiation). Changes in setting events or antecedents are often preferred by PBS because contingency management often takes more effort. Another tactic especially when dealing with disruptive behavior is to use information from a behavior chain analysis to disrupt the behavioral problem early in the sequence to prevent disruption. Some of the most commonly used approaches are:
The main keys to developing a behavior management program include:
Through the use of effective behavior management at a school-wide level, PBS programs offer an effective method to reduce school crime and violence. To prevent the most severe forms of problem behaviors, normal social behavior in these programs should be actively taught.
Consequential management is a positive response to challenging behavior. It serves to give the person informed choice and an opportunity to learn. Consequences must be clearly related to the challenging behavior. For example, if a glass of water was thrown and the glass smashed, the consequence (restitution) would be for the person to clean up the mess and replace the glass. These sorts of consequences are consistent with normal social reinforcement contingencies.
Providing choices is very important and staff can set limits by giving alternatives that are related to a behavior they are seeking. It is important that the alternative is stated in a positive way and that words are used which convey that the person has a choice. For example:
The current trend of positive behavior support (PBS) is to use behavioral techniques to achieve cognitive goals. The use of cognitive ideas becomes more apparent when PBS is used on a school-wide setting. A measurable goal for a school may be to reduce the level of violence, but a main goal might be to create a healthy, respectful, and safe learning, and teaching, environment. PBS on a school-wide level is a system that can be used to create the "perfect" school, or at the very least a better school, particularly because before implementation it is necessary to develop a vision for what the school environment should look like in the future.
According to Horner et al. (2004), as cited in (Miller, Nickerson, & Jimerson, 2009), once a school decides to implement PBS, the following characteristics require addressing:
If adequate support and consistency using a positive behavior support program exists, then over time a school’s atmosphere will change for the better. PBS is capable of creating positive changes so pronounced that alumni would mention the differences upon a visit to the school. Such a program is able to create a positive atmosphere and culture in almost any school, but the support, resources, and consistency in using the program overtime must be present.
School-wide Positive behavior support (SW-PBS) consists of a broad range of systematic and individualized strategies for achieving important social and learning outcomes while preventing problem behavior with all students.