Positive Behavior Support: Evolution of an Applied Science

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Positive behavior support (PBS) is an applied science that uses educational and systems change methods (environmental redesign) to enhance quality of life and minimize problem behavior. PBS initially evolved within the field of developmental disabilities and emerged from three major sources: applied behavior analysis, the normalization/inclusion movement, and person-centered values. Although elements of PBS can be found in other approaches, its uniqueness lies in the fact that it integrates the following critical features into a cohesive whole: comprehensive lifestyle change, a lifespan perspective, ecological validity, stakeholder participation, social validity, systems change and multicomponent intervention, emphasis on prevention, flexibility in scientific practices, and multiple theoretical perspectives. These characteristics are likely to produce future evolution of PBS with respect to assessment practices, intervention strategies, training, and extension to new populations. The approach reflects a more general trend in the social sciences and education away from pathology-based models to a new positive model that stresses personal competence and environmental integrity.

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Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, v. 4, issue 1, p. 4-16