Challenging & complex behaviours: Positive Behaviour Support
Traditional approaches to managing
behaviour have been largely ineffective - a more effective approach
is Positive Behaviour Support.
In the past society's responses to challenging and complex
behaviours have included imprisonment, torture and banishment from
the community. Today, punishment is still a common response,
whether it be prisons at the public level, or giving someone the
cold shoulder at a personal level.
Some traditional techniques are still used today to try and
manage the behaviour of people with disabilities, such as:
- Taking away desired objects
- Locking away/secluding
- Tying up
- Bribing (coercion).
What Is Positive Behaviour
Positive Behaviour Support is a modern approach to challenging
behaviours. It has gained international acceptance and is being
adopted by many organizations and government departments in the
disability sector. It goals are to assist a person in engaging in
less challenging behaviour and increase their quality of life.
Key points on Positive Behaviour
Positive behaviour support is exactly what it sounds like - a
supportive, positive approach. Key points include:
- We shouldn't try to control others, but offer support
- Positive responses are better than coercion and punishment
- Don't just blame the person, look for wider causes in the
- Look for the reason behind a behaviour (e.g. is there an unmet
- Every person has unique strengths and talents to offer
- Everyone deserves respect, quality of life and effective
At the supermarket, Paul's support worker finds that after a few
minutes of shopping Paul will suddenly start throwing items from
the supermarket shelves and yelling loudly.
Instead of just seeing Paul as being difficult and throwing a
tantrum, his support worker looks for the causes, and especially
the message behind the behaviour. It is a new supermarket, and this
has upset Paul's routine as the layout is completely different.
This, combined with the noisy over-stimulating environment, prove
too much for Paul to manage.
After discussion with colleagues, a plan is set to just take
Paul into the new supermarket for only 30 seconds at first, then
gradually increase the lengths of visits each week until he has got
used to the new environment.Paul is also encouraged to say
when he starts to feel uncomfortable. The support
workers give Paul lots of encouragement for handling the situation
well or for verbalizing his discomfort.
The situation is discussed with the supermarket manager who
agrees not to ban Paul from the supermarket when she realizes
action is being taken to resolve the issue.
References and further information