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The Process of Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

Step One: Building a Behavior Support Team

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WHAT do we need to do to make this a successful collaborative experience that will benefit the child and family?

Collaboration is delicate process. Success is achieved when all team members are actively involved in the behavior support process and when each team member feels that their contributions are valued and important. Effective teaming relies on good leadership. The leader of the team is the one who facilitates active participation from team members and reflects on the family’s goals and voice in those instances where the family members choose not to lead the team. A leader is always open-minded and is able to take on the perspective of the other team members and facilitate discussions so that everyone’s voice on the team is heard. Collaborative teaming needs to be a cooperative experience and result in a commitment to develop and implement the written plan (i.e., behavior support plan).

Teaming works best when there is open communication between team members, goal setting, teaching within natural environments, use of family strengths, monitoring of progress, and family involvement beyond meetings. Goal setting as a team should include a shared vision for the child and a belief that goals can and will be accomplished. Goals are written in such a way that skills can be taught within daily activities and routines in natural environments. This will not only allow for generalization of skills but also increased opportunities for teaching.

When setting goals for the child, it is also important to build upon family strengths. Family members are important contributors to the child’s team and thus should be commended for their abilities and ideas. Using the family’s strengths can give the family a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and success. For instance, various family members come to a team with strengths such as, special talents (artistic, a skilled writer, computer knowledge, athleticism); resourcefulness (ability to tap into the community, good at recycling, researches topics); optimism (cheers others on, believes in one’s self, hopeful); and organizational skills.

When building a collaborative team it is important to use facilitation techniques to promote active participation (e.g., round robin, group graphics) during team meetings. All team members should also be aware of the facts that the PBS process takes time, PBS can be a difficult process the first time it’s used, that team members have differing skills and/or approaches, there are varying learning styles amongst team members, and there may be competing factors that influence team members. Awareness of these issues can allow the team to better develop a Behavior Support Plan for the child. When discussing plan development, family members and the other team members should identify routines and activities that are problematic for the child through a process called Functional Assessment and Hypothesis Development. Once a team completes a Functional Assessment on the child, they collaborate to develop a Behavior Support Plan.

A Behavior Support Plan should be written in easy-to-understand language and "fit" with routines, activities, and values of the family and teaching staff. Once a plan is constructed the team should write a Collaborative Action Plan of who will produce the various components needed to implement the plan. Components (such as reminder signs, checklists, and tip sheets) need to be easy to use and easy to remember, otherwise the plan will be difficult to implement with fidelity. The plan must also accommodate competing demands on the teaching staff and family. If the individuals implementing the plan feel that it is too difficult or does not fit within the child’s everyday activities, then inconsistencies in implementation may occur. Mini-plans are sometimes developed around difficult routines or activities. For instance, a mini-plan can be written for a tooth brushing routine that may consist of preventions, new skills for the child to learn, and how the adults will respond around the child brushing his or her teeth. The mini-plan still fits within the Behavior Support Plan but really addresses a specific routine or activity.

Prior to the implementation of a plan, everyone on the team needs to understand the plan and agree that the strategies and approaches within the plan are appropriate. Begin implementation when all pieces of the plan have been developed. This includes a method for monitoring outcomes. Forms to monitor and measure outcomes should be simple and user-friendly. The entire team should feel the outcomes that the team is measuring are of value. Dates need to be scheduled to check-in with the team do discuss progress or needed amendments. Please see our Evaluating the Support Plan form for more information

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