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Positive Behaviour Support

Some people with learning disabilities may display challenging behaviours.

Challenging behaviours are:

  • behaviours that challenge us, because we may not understand what the person is trying to tell us

  • may cause harm to them, to us, or to others

  • can limit a persons independence and quality of life.

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a framework for supporting people with challenging behaviours that can help understand what the behaviours are for. The approach then helps the person develop more skills in communicating this need, rather than simply trying to stop behaviours from happening. 

At the heart of PBS is a person centred approach. Interventions are designed to improve independence and quality of life whilst understanding what is important to them. PBS avoids things that people may find aversive and avoids the use of “punishment” – meaning interventions solely to reduce a behaviour.

Behaviour can be a complex area, and whilst some behaviours have obvious meaning others require a more detailed assessment. This is described as a Functional Behaviour Assessment and needs to be carried out by a health professional with a recognised level of training in behavioural science. 

Once the function is fully understood a PBS plan can be carefully developed with the person and their support to develop new skills and avoid situations that raise the need for challenging behaviours to occur. This is done as a multi-elemental intervention that considers a holistic approach to the person and their life. The diagram below highlights the key areas of a PBS plan.

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Page last updated - 28/06/2023