Children with additional learning needs can sometimes develop behaviors that are considered challenging or problematic for their social inclusion. When children engage in such behaviors, they can find themselves being excluded from their social communities (e.g., school or clubs). Without support, some of these issues worsen and lead to problems with other mental health issues, such as anxiety.
What is Positive Behavior Support
Positive Behavior support is an evidence-based approach with the primary objective of increasing the child’s quality of life (e.g., being socially included or building friendships) and the secondary goal of decreasing the frequency and severity of problematic behavior (e.g., school refusal, property destruction, hitting others). Positive behavior support is a comprehensive approach to assessment, planning and intervention that focuses on the individual’s needs across their home and school life.
Behavioral Psychologists work to identify the underlying causes and triggers of the problematic
behavior and design function matched support plans to teach more adaptive skills and thereby, reduce the behavior of concern. This is achieved through Positive Behavior Support.
What is challenging behavior?
Problematic or challenging behavior is often an important communication message that can tell us about the quality of life of an individual. When a child engages in challenging behavior they can be expressing that something is wrong or missing in their lives. A child’s behavior can be defined as problematic or challenging, if it puts them or those around them at risk or leads to a poorer quality of life. It can often negatively impact on their ability to join everyday activities such as school or clubs. Please contact us for more information on positive behavior support and how it might help your child.Contact us
Positive Behavior Support (PBS)
This individualized approach is focused on the child and their relationships, which may be impacting on the challenging behavior. The approach involves the child at the center of the program, their families and all significant people (e.g., teacher) for the child. The person-centered plan includes an emphasis on community/school inclusion, development of meaningful relationships, more opportunities for choice, and ongoing skills building.
Inclusion of key people in the individual’s life
It is important that all relevant people for the child are included in the assessment, planning and implementation of the behavior support interventions. This could mean people from the school, a club and family members. The child is also included in the process.
Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA)
Within Positive Behavior Support we use functional assessments to identify the causes and triggers for the challenging behavior. The assessments focus on social, emotional, cognitive and/or environmental influences on the behaviors of concern. The functional assessment is dedicated to identifying the function of the behavior (i.e., what need the behavior fulfills for the child). The process includes collecting information through direct observations of the child at school, interviews with parents/teachers, past school records/or psychological reports and indirect assessments (i.e., behavior rating scales). The information is used to better understand the patterns of the child’s behavior, as well as the conditions or settings in which the behavior is most likely to occur. The information is analyzed to determine the specific function or purpose of the behavior, and in turn this informs the plan. It will also inform us about what skills the child might benefit from working on.
Behaviour Support Plan
The essential components of the BSP include; prevention strategies, strategies for teaching/supporting replacement skills, ways to respond to the behavior and important life goals. These are discussed and agreed with the everyone who will be involved in the implementation of the plan. It is important that training is provided on the elements of the plan (e.g., parents and/or teaching team) to ensure everyone can accurate implementation.
Evaluation of Outcomes
It is important for the team to consider the progress of the child and adapt the strategies as needed, ensuring that the plan is always designed to meet the child’s needs.
Dr. Jennifer Holloway
Chartered Behavioral Psychologist C.PSYCHOL., PS.S.I., BCBA-D
Dr Holloway is a Chartered Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has worked with children and adults with differential learning needs for over 25 years, as a clinician and researcher. She has delivered positive behavior support for individuals with additional needs across schools, homes and clinical settings. She is active in supporting families and schools to create meaningful social inclusion opportunities.
Dr. Lorna Barry
BCBA, M.Ps.S.I, MSc., Ph.D.
Dr. Lorna Barry is a psychologist and a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst. She has extensive experience working with children and young adults, helping them to build social and independent skills within their homes and communities. She has experience delivering positive behaviour support to individuals and families in clinical and home settings.