Positive Behavior Supports
What do you see as the future of behavior supports?
Mike Mayer: I think the future of positive behavior supports is going to be more and more using technologies to do assessments, to figure out what people are saying, to give people a way to communicate to us. We’re seeing stuff on iPads that even a few years ago nobody would have believed would be possible. We can measure heart rates and blood pressures and electrical nerve stimulation functions. I mean there’s a whole host of things that can be, that we can do… that we’re finding out, that allows us to understand people in different ways.
I think we’re going to start looking more at the way the systems interact with people and how those systems affect how those people behave. And I think that’s an important part of it.
I think one of the other things that we have discovered is the absolute fundamental critical importance of relationships and allowing people to develop and establish and maintain and grow interactions and personal relationships with others. Some of them are friends, some of them are boyfriends and girlfriends, some of them are just people that we see on a regular basis. But loneliness is probably the number one killer in the United States. The research about loneliness, that is coming out, is absolutely phenomenal. So if we want to end a lot of the behavioral problems that we’ve been seeing, then it seems to me that we’re going to have to start responding to the research about the effect that one human has on another in a relational basis that is chosen.
I think we’re going to see more and more about the funding of active, positive interventions, prevention kinds of things, active mental health care, the continued modifications of supports like dialectic behavior therapy – DBT. Experiential behavior therapeutics, EBT, helps people figure out by doing things. How does that feel? Do you want to do that again? Was that fun? You know, let’s process it from the learning by doing approach, some of those kinds of things. And I think that, in general, we’re going to be looking more and more at what are the individuals’ desired outcomes for their lives on the basis of what are they telling us in words or behaviors, what do they want to have happen, and for the people who care about them.
It’s a shift away from calling it person-centered planning, and then doing system-centered services, to being person-centered thinking, to develop a plan to help them accomplish the things that are mattering to them most. And that that’s going to become the norm rather than the exception - not doing something so we can fill out a form and so we can get paid for it.
Our society and people and advocates in general are starting to say, “Enough with the services. Help me get my life.” This is not about stacking on more services it’s about helping people be happy. You know, when mom’s pregnant, rarely does she respond, when she’s asked what kind of child she wants, rarely does she respond with, “Well, I was really hoping for a doctor or a lawyer, preferably male, blonde, 6’ 2''.” That’s not how they respond. They respond with, “I want a child that’s happy and healthy, ten fingers, ten toes.” You know, that kind of a response.
We’re given, the ability, as Americans, to pursue happiness - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think the single biggest change that we’re going to see over the next couple of years, maybe decades, is that the pursuit of happiness is going to apply to people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities just as much as it does to everybody else. That we’ll help them figure out what happy looks like for them, and we’re going to work towards getting them there.
Because not everybody’s going to learn how to make their bed or care to make their bed or do their checkbooks or cook Hamburger Helper for eight. But, people can learn to be happy, and I think that’s the single biggest thing we owe them.