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Individualized Interventions

Individualized Interventions and Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

On this website, we use the term Positive Behavior Support (PBS) to describe the approach used to provide intensive individualized interventions to individual children with challenging behavior. We also refer to program-wide implementation of PBS (PW-PBS) or program-wide adoption of the Pyramid Model. PW-PBS is the expansion of this model to classrooms and programs. This section of the web site provides information and resources for the use of PBS in the design of effective interventions for individual children with persistent challenging behavior.

What is Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Where Did it Originate?

PBS provides a process to understand and resolve the problem behavior of individuals or children that is based on values and empirical research. It offers an approach to develop an understanding of why the child engages in problem behavior and strategies to prevent the occurrence of problem behavior while teaching the child new skills. Positive behavior support offers a holistic approach that considers all factors that have an impact on a child and the child’s behavior. It can be used to address problem behaviors that range from aggression, tantrums, and property destruction to social withdrawal.

In the early 1980’s, there were important advances in the design and application of interventions for challenging behavior. These advances were driven by research on innovations in approaches for behavior change and shifts in cultural values about the use of aversive and dehumanizing intervention practices with vulnerable populations. The nonaversive technology that emerged in the late 1980’s and early 1990s for addressing the challenging behaviors of individuals with severe disabilities was referred to as positive behavioral support (PBS). This approach included the use of functional assessment, antecedent manipulations, teaching strategies, and changes in reinforcement contingencies with a focus on achieving lifestyle changes as the outcome of intervention.

Over the last two decades there have been significant advancements in PBS in its use with diverse populations and with both individuals and within programs and systems.  Today, the term PBS is used to describe the implementation of a broad approach to provide the supports needed to achieve basic lifestyle goals while reducing the challenging behavior that might impede those goals.  PBS can be applied with individuals, within schools and school districts (i.e., school-wide PBS) and within early childhood programs (i.e., program-wide PBS).

How Can I Implement Positive Behavior Support (PBS)?

To successfully implement PBS, it is essential that each of the of the following six steps is followed in the designated order: (1) Building a Behavior Support Team; (2) Person-Centered Planning; (3) Functional Behavioral Assessment; (4) Hypothesis Development; (5) Behavior Support Plan Development; and (6) Monitoring Outcomes.

There are three ways you can learn more about how to successfully implement PBS:

  1. If this is your first time learning about PBS, you can start here to be walked through each step in order.
  2. If you already know about PBS and would like to skip around, you can use the links on the "Six Steps of PBS" home page to review information about each step in whatever order you wish.
  3. If you would like to have a complete reference that outlines the entire PBS process, you can download a Word document to print out and take with you. For your convenience, this comprehensive reference also includes links to all the forms, information sheets and worksheets as well as websites and resources in easy-to-access sections at the end of the document.

Case Studies