Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a science-based approach to understanding and improving behaviours in individuals. It incorporates the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and emphasizes the use of proactive and consequence-based strategies, as well as teaching strategies. Support is provided in a variety of settings such as home, school, and the community. PBS focuses on improving quality of life that in a way that is meaningful and long lasting for the individual and family members. Successful implementation of positive behavior support requires collaboration with team members.

A public perception of individuals with Down syndrome (DS) is that they are agreeable and socially competent individuals who are often happy and engage in behaviours to please those around them. Studies have shown that individuals with Down syndrome may also engage in challenging behaviours. Sometimes, these challenges become entrenched enough that they negatively impact the child’s ability to learn and participate in everyday routines, or overall family functioning (e.g., avoiding community activities such as restaurants due to the likelihood of challenging behaviour).

Family Centered Positive Behaviour Support (FCPBS) services are designed to help families who would like to learn strategies to address behaviour challenges and/or would like to support their children in learning new skills. PBS can help to enhance both child and family quality of life and increase the range of activities a family can enjoy together. Positive behaviour support services are individualized and designed to focus on the family’s unique concerns. Services may include comprehensive positive behaviour support plans or targeted supports focused on specific routines or skills. Examples of potential target behaviours include decreasing bolting, difficulty transitioning between activities and aggression, as well as increasing independence in self-care routines, teaching communication and safety skills, and enhancing cooperation with adult requests.

Both children and adults can benefit from PBS, including individuals who have a dual diagnosis (e.g., autism spectrum disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder). Whether target behaviours are severe or moderate, positive behaviour support can help. PBS is often provided by behaviour analysts or other service providers trained in behaviour analysis.

DSRF Resources

The LowDOWN Podcast, Episode 5:11 – Family-Centred Positive Behaviour Support

Other Resources

Supporting Positive Behaviour in Children and Teens with Down Syndrome – The Respond but Don’t React Method, by David Stein

ABA Visualized Workbook: A visual workbook for ABA trainers

Adult Down Syndrome Center