Beyond Rewards: Exploring Various Strategies in Positive Behaviour Support

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Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a dynamic and multifaceted approach that extends far beyond the traditional concept of rewards. While reinforcement is a crucial component of PBS, the framework encompasses a diverse array of strategies aimed at fostering positive behaviours and creating supportive environments. In this blog post, we will explore the depth of Positive Behaviour Support, delving into strategies that go beyond simple rewards to create lasting, meaningful changes in behaviour.

Understanding Positive Behaviour Support: A Holistic Approach

At its core, Positive Behaviour Support is grounded in the principles of applied behaviour analysis, focusing on proactive strategies, teaching new skills, and creating environments that support positive behaviours. Instead of relying solely on consequences, PBS seeks to understand the function of behaviours, address underlying causes, and promote a positive and inclusive culture.

1. Teaching New Skills:

One of the foundational principles of Positive Behaviour Support is the proactive teaching of new skills. Rather than focusing solely on correcting undesirable behaviours, PBS emphasizes the importance of equipping individuals with the skills they need to navigate challenges effectively. This could involve teaching communication skills, problem-solving techniques, or self-regulation strategies, depending on the individual’s needs.

2. Environmental Modifications:

Positive Behaviour Support recognizes the significant impact of the environment on behaviour. Modifying the environment to better suit the needs of individuals can prevent challenging behaviours and promote positive ones. This might include creating designated spaces for focused work, minimizing sensory stimuli, or organizing materials to enhance accessibility.

3. Visual Supports:

Visual supports are powerful tools in Positive Behaviour Support, especially for individuals who benefit from visual cues. Visual schedules, charts, and cues can provide clear expectations, offer guidance during transitions, and serve as reminders for desired behaviours. These supports contribute to a structured and predictable environment, reducing anxiety and promoting positive engagement.

4. Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA):

The foundation of effective Positive Behaviour Support lies in understanding the function of behaviours. Conducting a Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA) involves systematically gathering data to identify antecedents, behaviours, and consequences. This comprehensive analysis informs the development of targeted interventions that address the underlying causes of behaviours rather than merely reacting to them.

5. Social Stories:

Social stories are narrative interventions that provide individuals with information about social situations, expectations, and appropriate responses. These stories can be customized to address specific behaviours or challenges, offering guidance and promoting understanding. Social stories are particularly effective for individuals who benefit from clear explanations and visual supports.

6. Peer-Mediated Interventions:

Harnessing the power of peer support, Positive Behaviour Support encourages the implementation of peer-mediated interventions. Peers can play a pivotal role in reinforcing positive behaviours, modelling appropriate social interactions, and providing support. Collaborative activities and peer buddy systems contribute to a positive and inclusive social environment.

7. Functional Communication Training (FCT):

For individuals with communication challenges, Positive Behaviour Support includes Functional Communication Training (FCT). This approach teaches alternative, functional ways for individuals to communicate their needs, reducing frustration and the likelihood of challenging behaviours. FCT empowers individuals by providing them with effective means of expressing themselves.

8. Self-Monitoring:

Empowering individuals to monitor and reflect on their own behaviour is a key strategy in Positive Behaviour Support. Self-monitoring involves individuals tracking their actions, behaviours, or emotions and evaluating them against established criteria. This self-awareness fosters a sense of responsibility and accountability for one’s actions, promoting positive self-regulation.

9. Collaborative Problem-Solving:

Positive Behaviour Support encourages a collaborative problem-solving approach. Rather than imposing solutions, educators, support staff, and individuals work together to identify challenges, brainstorm strategies, and collaboratively develop intervention plans. This inclusive process fosters a sense of ownership and promotes the individual’s active participation in their behaviour support plan.

10. Strengths-Based Approach:

Adopting a strengths-based approach is a fundamental principle of Positive Behaviour Support. Instead of focusing solely on deficits and challenges, PBS emphasizes identifying and building on individual strengths. Recognizing and celebrating strengths contributes to a positive self-concept, enhances self-esteem, and promotes a sense of competence.

Case Study: Implementing Diverse Strategies in Positive Behaviour Support

Emily, a high school student with autism spectrum disorder, frequently experiences meltdowns during unstructured periods. These meltdowns often result in disruptions and challenges in her academic and social engagement.

Positive Behaviour Support Approach:

1. Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA):

Conduct a thorough Functional Behaviour Assessment to understand the antecedents and triggers of Emily’s meltdowns. The analysis reveals that unstructured periods, sensory stimuli, and transitions contribute to her heightened stress levels.

2. Environmental Modifications:

Modify the environment to reduce sensory stimuli and create designated spaces for Emily to retreat when feeling overwhelmed. Implement a visual schedule that provides predictability and clarity about transitions, minimizing anxiety during unstructured periods.

3. Social Stories:

Develop a social story that specifically addresses the challenges Emily faces during unstructured periods. The social story includes visuals and narratives explaining the expectations, potential stressors, and coping strategies, providing Emily with a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

4. Functional Communication Training (FCT):

Introduce Functional Communication Training to teach Emily alternative ways to express her needs and frustrations. Implement a communication system that includes visual cues or a communication device, enabling Emily to communicate effectively and reducing the likelihood of meltdowns.

5. Peer-Mediated Interventions:

Engage Emily’s peers in understanding and supporting her during unstructured periods. Educate the peers about autism, sensory sensitivities, and the importance of providing a supportive and inclusive environment. Encourage collaborative activities that promote positive social interactions and mutual understanding.

6. Self-Monitoring:

Teach Emily to self-monitor her stress levels and emotions during unstructured periods. Provide her with a visual self-monitoring tool, allowing her to reflect on her feelings and use predetermined strategies to self-regulate. This empowers Emily to take an active role in managing her behaviour.

7. Strengths-Based Approach:

Identify and celebrate Emily’s strengths, interests, and abilities. Integrate her passions into structured activities during unstructured periods, providing her with engaging and meaningful opportunities. This strengths-based approach enhances Emily’s sense of self-worth and contributes to positive behaviour.

8. Collaborative Problem-Solving:

Collaborate with Emily, her teachers, and support staff to develop a comprehensive behaviour support plan. Involve Emily in the problem-solving process, seeking her input on strategies and interventions. This collaborative approach ensures that the plan is tailored to her needs and preferences.

9. Individualized Support Plan:

Develop an individualized support plan that incorporates the diverse strategies discussed. This plan outlines specific interventions, modifications, and teaching strategies to address Emily’s challenges during unstructured periods. Regularly review and adjust the plan based on ongoing assessments.

10. Positive Reinforcement and Recognition:

Implement a positive reinforcement system that acknowledges and rewards Emily for successfully navigating unstructured periods. Recognize her efforts, achievements, and the use of coping strategies. Positive reinforcement reinforces positive behaviours and motivates her to continue engaging in adaptive responses.

Conclusion

Whether you are an educator, parent, caregiver, or individual interested in personal growth, Positive Behaviour Support invites you to discover its transformative power. Embrace its strategies, focus on a strengths-based perspective, and collaborate to create environments where everyone can learn, grow, and succeed.

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Transform Life is a NDIS registered organisation that provides support for your autistic child, as well as support to you as a parent to best navigate the challenges your child and family face on a daily basis.

Book your FREE consult with an experienced Therapist at Transform Life to explore how PBS can support you and your family.

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Transform Life is an Australian owned provider specialising in evidence based therapeutic support including Positive Behaviour Support, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Speech Therapy and Behavioural Interventions helping transform lives and families across Australia.

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