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Challenging & complex behaviours: Positive Behaviour Support plans

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Challenging & complex behaviours: Positive Behaviour Support plans

A Positive Behaviour Support plan gives us insight into a person's behaviour, then strategies to encourage appropriate behaviours and a quality of life.


A Positive Behaviour Support plan is not just for professionals, but can be used by families as well when a disability such as a traumatic brain injury has led to challenging behaviours. 


Positive Behaviour Support plan aims to:

  • Observe and measure the behaviour
  • Identify what causes or contributes to the behaviour
  • Choose possible approaches and strategies for change.


Triggers for behaviour are avoided or minimized, or the person is encouraged to identify triggers, advise when they occur, and use coping strategies.


When the challenging behaviour occurs, everyone will consistently respond using the strategies agreed on. 


Example of a Positive Behaviour Support plan

WHY THE BEHAVIOUR OCCURS: Ian has a brain injury. His ability to process some information is impaired, and he may become disinhibited. Ian talks excessively about the desire to have sex.

RESPONSE 1: family members gently remind Ian that this behaviour is not appropriate. Tell Ian "Please do not talk about this with me". Responses should be consistent, respectful and timely. If Ian does not stop, use the second response.

RESPONSE 2: If Ian continues to talk about his desire to have sex, advise him again that you do not wish for him to talk like this with you and that you are going to leave the room.

REMEMBER: Not to take Ian's behaviour personally. It is important that all team members are consistent and patient in their responses. Redirection could be useful (e.g. "Ian can you help me to . . .?").

SUPPORT & ASSIST: Once the behaviour has stopped, return and advise Ian that the behaviour was not appropriate. Ask him if he would like to talk to someone about it.

REINFORCE: When Ian is not discussing sex, reinforce his appropriate communication (e.g. "I've really enjoyed our conversations today, Ian").


A summary checklist

  • What are the different behaviours displayed?
  • Which behaviours will be focused upon first?
  • Why is the behaviour a problem?
  • What pattern has been observed for each target behaviour?
  • What are the specific target behaviours within this category?
  • What seems to cause or contribute to the behaviour?
  • How will change be measured?
  • What are the possible approaches and strategies for change?
  • What level of control and participation is possible for the person with the brain injury?
  • Could this plan be relevant to other behaviours?
  • Have the person's rights been fully protected within the plan?

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