As a parent who has children with disabilities, I know the power of Positive Behavior Supports.
When my daughter was about 11 we started to have problems with her aggressive behavior. It would manifest in hitting, kicking and self-injurious behavior. As she got bigger, it got harder. At that time we were introduced to the concept of Positive Behavior Supports as the agency CBI was contracted to work with my daughter. As a family we began to learn about picture symbols, Boardmaker, schedules and terms such as setting events/antecedants.
What I now know is that communication and behavior support needs to be looked at on a continumn because contrary to MCFD’s practice of short periods of behavior intervention contracts, what is required to have success is consistent support over a long period of time. We can testify to that.
When Angela was 16, CBI faded out of the picture. We are deeply grateful for their help in setting the stage for happier times for our daughter. Then when Angela was about 18 we had the good fortune to meet Brenda Fossett. She got us back on track with respect to Angela’s Communication Plan and in the 7 or 8 years that Brenda has been working with our family/staff group we have watched my daughter become a happier camper. Her behaviors have dropped significantly due to Brenda’s guidance and the efforts of a lot of people to carry out Brenda’s advice.
What I have learned is that my daughter has made progress not because we extinguished her behaviors but because we found ways to improve her quality of life. We made it easier to for her to communicate, we built more flexibility into her schedule, and increased her personal choices. Brenda taught my daughter (and taught us to teach her) to be more independant. My thanks to Brenda for sticking with us through some difficult times.
So thinking back my tips would be:
- Find a good consultant (no, you cannot have Brenda). Talk to other parents to find out who is good.
- Look at support as a life-long support and take a longer view. Look at PBS as more of a journey.
- Educate your family and staff. Behavior can be prevented if you are consistent and plan ahead in all environments: home, school and the community. Try and get the consultatnt and the school to work as a team.
- Make sure that you build behavior support in your "plan" with a CLBC facilitator.
I know there are experts out there on this subject who have many other tips that will help families. I would like to invite them to participate. I know first hand how the knowledge of PBS has improved our lives. At the same time, I also know there are many parents and children our there who suffer because they don’t know about PBS. I hope that this section can be a place where parents can pick up tips so they can "get by" until contracted services are in place.