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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches and Positive Behavioral Interventions

Derrick Dufresne

Positive Behavior Supports

Derrick Dufresne: As I was talking about earlier, the discussion about… positive behavioral supports, or what's called PBS, is really not so much a program as it is an approach. It goes back to the whole idea of the communicative function of the behavior. And one of the major things that it challenges us about is, what is going on in somebody's life when they're not doing this.

I was talking earlier today that another book that everybody should read is a book called Shift Happens by George Suess, it looks like Soose but it's Suess, that works for the Delaware Arc in New York. Because what George and his staff have figured out… if you can picture a wheel that's 24 hours, this is so powerful and I use this example all the time.

Typically, when you're talking about somebody that has significant behavioral challenges, if you're in the middle of it and you ask the staff, "Well, how often does he do that?" The response you get a lot is, "He does it all the time. He does it all the time." But what George and his staff have figured out is if you actually analyze the behavior and you take it apart and you say "There's 24 hours in the day, how much of the day is he hitting people? How much of the day is she tipping over chairs? How much of the day is she yelling?"

What you find out is, that what appears and feels like this is, actually this. And the question is, "What is happening in somebody's life when they're not exhibiting the behavior?" And what people like George and other people much smarter than me have taught us, is the old saying from the poet – that they lead lives of quiet desperation.

People sometimes attend programs that they think that suck, live with people that they think suck, work with people they think suck… and it's not about anything other than we didn't match and we didn't ask and we didn't listen. So positive behavioral supports says that behavior is part of life rather than it being a segmented thing that I put over here on the shelf and when I'm upset I'm going to pull the behavior off the shelf, I'm going to exhibit it, then I put the behavior back on the shelf.

What it says is we all have behaviors. I have behaviors right now. Well, positive behavioral support is a way of life. And you couple that with a communicative function of behavior and you've got is a very… very powerful tool that integrates my behavior into my person and it says first and foremost, before any behavior, I'm human.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001MNSCDD-03, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

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