Description: Positive behavior support aims to decrease potentially problematic behavior by enhancing an individual’s lifestyle, making environmental changes, and teaching new skills rather than focusing directly on reducing the problem behavior.

Research Summary: Research with individuals with autism indicates that positive behavior support (PBS) programs decrease some problem behaviors. Some investigators (Carr & Sidener, 2005; Johnston, 2006) regard PBS as a form of Functional Behavior Assessment and intervention (see “Functional Behavior Assessment/Analysis”), while others view it as a separate intervention approach altogether or as somewhat separate from behavior analysis (Dunlap et al., 2008, ).

Recommendations: Positive behavior support may be an effective intervention. Additional research is needed on its use specifically with individuals with autism who have a wide range of problem behavior and to determine whether it is the same as or different from standard Function Behavior Assessment/Analysis procedures and well established behavior analytic treatment methods.

Selected References:

Systematic reviews of scientific studies:

Odom, S.L. Brown, W.H., Frey, T., Karasu, N., Smith-Canter, L.L., & Strain, P.S. (2003). Evidence-based practices for young children with autism: Contributions for single-subject design research. Focus of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 166-175.

Johnston, J.M., Foxx, R.M., Jacobson, J. W., Green, G., & Mulick, J.A. (2006). Applied behavior analysis and positive behavior support. The Behavior Analyst, 29, 51-74.

Carr, J. E. & Sidener, T. M. (2005). On the relation between applied behavior analysis and positive behavioral support. Behavior Analyst<, 25, 245-253.

For additional information:

Dunlap, G., Carr, E. G., Horner, R. H., Zarcone, J. R., & Schwartz, I. (2008). Positive behavior support and applied behavior analysis: A familial alliance. Behavior Modification, 32, 682-698.

Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., & Dunlap, G. (Eds.). (1996). Positive Behavior Support: Including people with difficult behavior in the community. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

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