Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is unlike traditional behaviour management techniques. Behaviour modification
techniques have been rightly criticised because they view the individual as the sole problem and seek to ‘fix’ him or
her by quickly eliminating the challenging behaviour. PBS views such things as settings and lack of skill as crucial
parts of the problem. To use the iceberg analogy, the challenging behaviours that an individual presents are just the
tip of the iceberg visible above the water. Below the surface lie the underlying reasons for the behaviour and it is
these that need to be addressed.
A non-verbal child may lash out after a request. Identifying the triggers for the behaviour may help avoid it in future
but does that then mean adults must no longer make requests of the child? Another traditional option would be to fight
fire with fire and introduce an immediate negative consequence for the behaviour. Such an approach demeans both
the caregiver and the child and creates a loss of trust. Lashing out may be the child's only way to say ‘No’. With PBS
the child is taught an alternative behaviour. Instead of lashing out, she can be taught to use a picture icon to say ‘No’.
The child's communicative impairment will be fully addressed over time and appropriate communication systems will
be embedded into everyday life.
An adult in a residential setting may be challenging his caregivers on a daily basis. The PBS processes for this
individual will involve information gathering, functional analysis, and hypothesis development followed by support
plan design, implementation and monitoring. The information gathering and functional analysis phases of the process
may show that the environment is unsuitable. The individual may be leading an unhealthy lifestyle where there is a
lack of physical exercise and an over-dependence on unhealthy eating. There may be a lack of meaningful activities. Relationships with the caregiver may be poor. The caregivers may be undertrained and ill equipped to deal with the
needs of the individual. All of these factors may be contributing to the challenging behaviour and will require
remediation over time.