What is Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)?
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is an individualised and comprehensive approach that parents and carers use to teach and encourage children to behave in new ways.
The approach makes challenging behaviour less likely to happen because it removes things that trigger, encourage or reward that behaviour. It also helps children learn new behaviour to replace the challenging behaviour.
Who is Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) for?
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is for anyone with behaviour challenges, including autistic children. The approach can also be used with people with intellectual, learning, developmental and social challenges.
What is Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) used for?
The main goal of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is to help children learn new ways to behave.
Where does Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) come from?
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) emerged in the 1980s, evolving from Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). Both PBS and ABA are based on ‘learning theory’, but PBS developed with a stronger focus on being person centred or family centred.
Learning theory suggests that how people behave in a situation depends on their previous experiences of similar situations.
What is the idea behind Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)?
The idea behind Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is that all behaviour serves a purpose. Children can learn new behaviour when it’s known what they’re getting or communicating when they behave in particular ways.
The PBS approach aims to help children learn new ways of communicating and getting what they want – for example, by using words or signs to communicate. These new ways of communicating can replace challenging behaviour.
The key feature of a PBS approach is an individualised plan that is:
- implemented by everyone involved with a child on a day-to-day basis
- used in the natural environment where a behaviour occurs.
What does Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) involve?
First, the child has a medical assessment to make sure their behaviour isn’t caused by a physical illness like an ear infection or toothache.
Next, a trained practitioner, like a psychologist or other professional, talks with the child’s family and observes the child’s behaviour to work out what the child gets by behaving in a particular way. This is known as a functional assessment.
After the assessment, families work with the practitioner on a detailed plan to remove or minimise the triggers for the behaviour and, wherever possible, stop any accidental rewards for the behaviour.
Once they have a plan, parents can teach and encourage the child to use new skills and ways of communicating to express their wants and needs.
Does Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) help autistic children?
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is supported by high-quality research. This research shows that PBS:
- improves children’s school performance
- helps children ask for things
- helps children give and share information
- reduces children’s aggression towards themselves and others
- reduces meltdowns and disruptive behaviour.
Children benefit most from this therapy when it’s consistently and accurately put into practice.
Who practises Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)?
Psychologists and other professionals who are trained in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) can develop PBS therapies and support carers in putting them into practice.
Where can you find a practitioner?
You can find psychologists at Australian Psychological Society – Find a psychologist.
If you’re interested in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), you could talk about it with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk about it with your NDIA planner, early childhood partner or local area coordinator (LAC), if you have one.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
If your child is in a therapy program that uses Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), your involvement is essential.
You’ll have a central role in the collaborative team that develops the PBS plan. As part of this, you should be trained to put the plan into action and respond to difficult situations.
You’ll be responsible for implementing the PBS plan at home, and you’ll play an active role in providing feedback to the team about your child’s progress.
There’s a cost for developing a Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) plan, because you do this in collaboration with a trained practitioner like a psychologist or experienced education professional. The cost varies depending on how long it takes to develop the plan, as well as the practitioner’s qualifications.
You use the plan in your child’s natural environments, so there’s no financial cost for putting the plan into action.
You might be eligible to see a psychologist at a subsidised rate for a limited number of sessions through Medicare. Some private health care funds might also cover a portion of the consultation fee. If the therapist has HICAPS, you might be able to make a claim immediately.
Therapies and supports for autistic children range from behaviour therapies and developmental approaches to medicines and alternative therapies. When you understand the main types of therapies and supports for autistic children, it’ll be easier to work out the approach that will best suit your child.