If there’s one thing
we’ve learned in the past year, it’s the value of being able to pivot. Our
routines have been ransacked, whether we’re providing support services in our
jobs or planning a family gathering. Day by day, we evaluate the risks and
benefits of any activity involving an encounter with others and make choices
about social distance, masks, and using hand sanitizer. The restrictions have
encouraged us to develop creative ways to take part in the world around us.
Meeting in parks, virtual breakout rooms, or under patio lights by a firepit is
now commonplace. Flexibility once praised primarily for people in creative
endeavors, has become a survival strategy. And those who have mastered the ability
to adapt quickly have thrived in spite of the obstacles.
Support, when done well, merges not only evidence-based practices but also ones
that are flexible and creative. All humans use behaviors that work for them.
Behavior specialists work like detectives uncovering clues and solving the
puzzle to determine the functions of behavior. Each plan is unique and
individualized, exploring not only observable consequences but also past
trauma, environment, and genetics.
Articles in this issue
encourage us to focus on merging silos of mental and physical health and
incorporating biomedical and socio-environmental influences which all play into
how a person behaves. No longer limited to practices like discrete trial
training and aprons filled with M&M’s, Positive Behavioral Support has
proven effective in a variety of messy settings where challenging behaviors are
likely to be triggered, like fast-food restaurants, playgrounds, job sites, and
people’s homes. We’ve learned that behavioral approaches, once thought to be
effective only with specific populations of people with diagnoses like autism
or intellectual disability are effective for everyone, especially when
developing plans with people who require complex mental health support. Creating
multidisciplinary teams with a variety of stakeholders who like and admire the
person needing support helps to promote a positive outcome and ensures
simplicity and ease of administering a plan that works for everyone.
If this work inspires you, check out The Home
and Community Positive Behavior Support (HCPBS) Network of the Association of
Positive Behavior Support. HCPBS is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated
to expanding and enhancing the application of positive behavior support
principles across home and community settings, contexts, and the lifespan for
people with behavioral challenges (including intellectual and developmental
disabilities, mental health diagnoses, and seniors who require memory care and
other related services) and the systems who support them. The HCPBS website (www.hcpbs.org) is
loaded with practical resources, videos, stories of people who have been
helped, and a treasure trove of evidence-based practices and research.
Dellinger-Wray, MS Ed
and Community Positive Behavior Support Network
for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University