Ability Action Australia

NDIS Therapeutic Supports Provider

Young boy raising hand in classroom NDIS positive behaviour supportA young boy in Year 1 who was expelled from school for aggressive behaviour is now getting specialised support that is already leading to more positive ways of communicating.

Adam, who lives with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, has never displayed these kinds of behaviours at home with his mum and dad and two siblings.

But it’s been a different story at school, where he was expelled for hitting and pinching students and teachers, throwing furniture, and generally being a danger to himself and the community.

A move to a new school this year led to four suspensions in just two weeks, and it was looking like Adam may have to be moved a third time — perhaps to a school that is not mainstream.

Luckily, Adam was referred to Ability Action Australia’s Positive Behaviour Support service, which has introduced a range of interventions that are reducing, and in some ways eliminating, the behaviours of concern while improving his performance at school.

What is Positive Behaviour Support?

Positive Behaviour Support is an individualised and evidence-based approach with the primary aim of improving quality of life. The service also aims to reduce behaviours of concern.

The approach makes difficult behaviour unnecessary by removing things that trigger or reward that behaviour. It also teaches the participant alternative and more effective ways of communicating and getting what they want.

The idea behind Positive Behaviour Support is that all behaviour serves a purpose, and difficult behaviour can be reduced if it is known what the participant is trying to achieve or communicate by behaving in certain ways.

The key feature of this approach is an individually tailored written plan that is:

  • Implemented daily by everyone involved with the child or adult
  • Used in the natural environment where a behaviour occurs

A Positive Behaviour Support plan and its associated strategy and interventions are developed by a specially trained Behaviour Support Practitioner, in close consultation with parents or carers and the whole family.

Parents and carers can then help to implement the plan by carrying out the activities and encouraging the participant to use new skills and alternative, appropriate ways of communicating with others to express wants and needs.

What are the positive behaviour support strategies we applied in Adam’s case?

One of our specially trained and NDIS-registered Behaviour Support Practitioners worked with Adam over several months.

He started the process by talking to Adam’s family and carrying out a functional behaviour assessment which involved observation sessions to find out the purpose of Adam’s behaviour.

Based on the functional behaviour assessment it appeared that Adam’s behaviours were linked to anxiety around separating from his parents. Adam attended before- and after-school care, which made him feel isolated and alone.

“Misbehaving in the school environment and being suspended and sent home was the quickest way to be reconnected to his mum and reduce his separation anxiety,” our Behaviour Support Practitioner says.

After the assessment, we worked collaboratively with Adam’s family and his school to develop a detailed plan with evidence-informed strategies for removing or minimising the triggers of the problem behaviour. The plan also aimed to help him learn more effective and acceptable skills.

Adam’s plan involved changing his routines at home and school to create a greater sense of stability and positive rewards. The plan includes:

  • Regular family activities to foster a sense of connection and belonging
  • Morning and afternoon sensory regulation activities such as playing on the beach and park
  • Modifying the work schedule to remove before and after school care and allow for parents to drop off/pick up
  • Planning school lessons around his areas of interest and using lots of praise for good behaviour

PBS for school success: how did Adam benefited

With the new structure to his home and school life, Adam has shown excellent behaviour at school, with no recurrence of the difficult behaviours that led to his suspensions.

“Since we changed the schedule and started implementing the strategies, Adam has been in school for three full days with excellent behaviour,” our practitioner says.

After the first week of the plan being put into action, his teacher reported that Adam was having ‘mostly positive’ or ‘very positive’ days, even when his routine was disrupted in some way, which was a real achievement.

His teacher has introduced plenty of space-themed activities such as a solar system art activity, watching space videos, and special space-related handwriting sessions, to get him more involved in the curriculum.

Importantly, his mum is also delighted with the behavioural changes the new routine has brought about in her son and is hopeful this is a turning point for Adam that will make a lasting difference in his life.

Summary of how positive behaviour support in schools benefit students with disability

The research supporting Positive Behaviour Support is strong and shows that when applied properly and consistently this approach:

  • Improves children’s school performance
  • Helps children communicate appropriately
  • Helps children give and share information
  • Reduces children’s aggression towards themselves and others
  • Improves relationships
  • Allows for better community participation
  • Gives a person a sense of empowerment and independence over their own life
  • Improves quality of life

Contact us to find out more

Our Behaviour Support Practitioners will develop a plan that helps you achieve your goals, whether that’s improved communication and social skills, safe methods of response to unsafe behaviours, stress and anger management, and more. Call 1800 238 958 or email hello@abilityactionaustralia.com.au today!

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