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Positive Behavior Supports

by Horner, R. H.

Horner, R. (2000). Positive Behavior Supports. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 15(2), 97-105.

Objective:  The purpose of this article was to define the status of positive behavior support and provide a vision for where this technology will lead in the future. 

Summary:  Positive behavior support has evolved from a long history of research and practice.  It involves assessment and restructuring of environments in order to reduce problem behaviors and increase social, personal, and professional quality of life for the individual.  Four essential messages are included that shape the vision for the future of positive behavior support.  First, support should reduce problem behaviors and have an effect on the way a person lives.  Essentially, behavior change should positively influence activities, people with whom the individual interacts, the extent that personal choice is available, and the self determination of the individual.  Next, functional assessment is the foundation for understanding behavior patterns.  Functional assessment identifies the events that reliably predict and maintain problem behaviors.  It acknowledges the perspective of the individual with problem behaviors rather than labeling the individual as defective.  Functional assessment guides the behavior interventions that are developed.  Third, behavior support is comprehensive in structure and scope.  This means that the application of multiple procedures across a full range of times, settings, people, and contexts are needed to generate real change in behavior.  This comprehensive approach is guided by five central features. Finally, the unit of behavioral intervention must be expanded for schools and communities to build the capacity to effectively deliver behavior support.

Conclusion:  Positive behavior support is an effective means of changing problem behavior while positively affecting the quality of life for individuals and those who care for and work with them.  There remain challenges to the implementation of positive behavior support in school and community settings.