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The Process of Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

Step Four: Hypothesis Development

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Not Sure About the Hypothesis?

Sometimes the function of a child’s behavior is not readily apparent. In times like this, it helps to ask the following questions to prompt further understanding of the context in which the behavior occurs:

  • What would make the problem behavior stop?
  • Is it something you would provide or allow the child the access?
  • Is there something to remove?
  • Can you allow the child to leave?

If the function of the child’s behavior still remains uncertain, another good suggestion is to continue collecting data in the same context.

Another possibility is that the child’s behavior serves multiple purposes. Not only is it possible for a single behavior to serve multiple functions, but it can also change (e.g., from escape to attention). For example, consider a child who engages in aggressive behavior in order to escape a non-preferred art activity. The child has been consistently removed from the activity each time he becomes aggressive. However, if the child receives a lot of attention from adults when he is removed from the group, he may become motivated to receive attention from the adults. Thus, a behavior initially performed for one reason (e.g., to escape a difficult task) may begin to occur for a completely different reason (e.g., to obtain attention).

ArrowNow that you have completed Step Four, let's proceed to
Step Five: Behavior Support Plan Development.

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