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The Process of Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

Step Four: Hypothesis Development

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Sample Hypotheses


Nathan appears to use tantrums to request help and objects. When these tantrums occur, the caregiver is likely to provide attention, the requested object, or another preferred object. Nathan does not make requests verbally, but will bring an adult to a desired object. If he does not receive a consequence for his request, Nathan will have a tantrum.


Jackson avoids the demands of activities that he finds difficult (structured language-based activities, sharing objects, interactive play) by resisting or withdrawing. If pushed to participate, Jackson will react by throwing objects, screaming, or stating "shut up." When Jackson resists, adults will often give up or allow him to leave the activity.


Billy will use tantrums to request social interaction. When he desires adult action, Billy will get the adult’s attention by taking the adult by the hand and physically positioning him or her. He will then initiate a chase game or request to be held. If the adult does not comply, Billy will cry loudly, scream, and bring his hands to his face or ears. If the adult continues to not meet his request, he will hit the adult. Often the caregiver will then comply with his request or pick him up.


Aaron appears to use tantrums to escape transitions. When Aaron is prompted to leave an activity or setting, he will respond by crying, screaming, and dropping to the floor. In response to the tantrum, Aaron is often provided with comfort and delayed transition.


Mandy will drop, throw, turn over furniture, or push items to the floor to gain adult attention. In response to the behavior, the caregiver usually picks up the items, provides her with verbal feedback (e.g., "o.k., Mandy") and often will pick her up.

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