Generalization and Sustainability in Positive Behavior Support

Planning for Changes Over Time

The work of maintaining support for a child or adult continues even when a positive behavior support plan has been implemented and challenging behaviors have decreased in intensity or have stopped occurring. An effective positive behavior support plan includes strategies to help the team anticipate major changes in life and prepare for events that could disrupt everyday routines leading to the re-occurrence of challenging behavior.

Adapting to life changes may mean a new functional behavioral assessment (FBA) will be needed. The FBA will help the child or adult and team members gather information about when challenging behavior is more or less likely to occur in new situations and settings. Another strategy is to use generalization strategies within the planning process so that people are comfortable and empowered to apply the principles they have learned in the plan to new situations and settings.

In general, when life transitions occur, it is helpful to approach these changes from a function-based thinking perspective. Function-based thinking allows the child or adult as well as support staff, caregivers, and clinicians to co-construct person-centered positive behavior support plans that have a strong likelihood of promoting success for children and adults entering new situations. In the next section we discuss what function-based thinking is and how it applies to individuals.

  • Moving from early childhood settings into kindergarten
  • Transitions from middle and high school
  • Moving to new city or neighborhood
  • Experiencing accidents or natural disasters
  • Occurrence of a pandemic or major health issue
  • Death or loss of family member, pets, close friends
  • Creating new friendships or joining social groups
  • New employment
  • Transitions of staff who provide support
  • Changes in spiritual growth or religious affiliation