Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

According to IDEA (§300.324(a)(2)(i)-(v)) the IEP team should also address any positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) needed to address behavior that impedes learning. Information documented in the Functional Scheme evaluation sections on Developmentally Impeding Functions helps to identify some of these behaviors.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

A young boy presses his hands to his ears.
A young boy presses his hands to his ears.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are strategies and plans that help to teach positive behaviors and prevent negative behaviors from occurring in the first place.

Some students may retreat into sleep if overwhelmed by demands. Others may become overly excited in busy, noisy environments. Many of these students will exhibit self-injurious or self-stimulatory behaviors that impede their ability to participate fully in educational activities, especially the traditional activities of their same-aged peers.

Utilizing specific instructional strategies such as offering (Phase 1), imitation (Phase 2), interaction (Phase 3), sharing the work (Phase 4) and consequences (Phase 5) helps the child develop the social and emotional skills needed to participate in learning with on his/her own and with others.  So the IEP team may want to specify the use of these strategies during instructional activities. 

The IEP team also may want to specify that a certain amount of time each day be spent in independent learning environments. That way the child can learn to initiate activity without prompts from an adult or peer.

Tiers of Support

Diagram of the three tiers of intervention.

According to the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports there are three tiers of interventions. Schools use this model to align to academic, behavioral, social, and emotional supports to improve education for all students. 

Tier 1: Universal Prevention (All)

Tier 1 supports serve as the foundation for behavior and academics. Schools provide these universal supports to all students. For most students, the core program gives them what they need to be successful and to prevent future problems.

Tier 2: Targeted Prevention (Some)

This level of support focuses on improving specific skill deficits students have. Schools often provide Tier 2 supports to groups of students with similar targeted needs. Providing support to a group of students provides more opportunities for practice and feedback while keeping the intervention maximally efficient. Students may need some assessment to identify whether they need this level of support and which skills to address. Tier 2 supports help students develop the skills they need to benefit core programs at the school.

Tier 3: Intensive, Individualized Prevention (Few)

Tier 3 supports are the most intensive supports the school offers. These supports require are the most resource intensive due to the individualized approach of developing and carrying out interventions. At this level, schools typically rely on formal assessments to determine a student’s need and to develop an individualized support plan. Student plans often include goals related to both academics as well as behavior support.

Tiered Framework (2021)

 Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Information documented in the Functional Scheme evaluation sections on Developmentally Impeding Functions helps to identify some of these behaviors. Many of these students will need Tier 3 interventions.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

Many students functioning below 48 months are on strong medications that impact their behavior. Some have different neural or organ system function as a result of a syndrome or seizure disorder. Sensory deprivation as a result of vision or hearing loss, tactile defensiveness as a result of early medical interventions or improper techniques of interaction, extremely limited communication skills, and other things can all play a part in behavioral challenges.

Sometimes behaviors are present because the student is simply bored and has very little to engage his/her interests.  Self-stimulation, which may occur at times, can become highly distractible behaviors if they are not addressed appropriately. (Read Stereotypical Behaviors and Self-Stimulation on the Active Learning Space website.)

As in other areas of development most of these students have severe developmental delays in the areas of Social and Emotional Development. Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP) may be developed for the student during the IEP meeting. This may be necessary if the student is not able to regulate his or her own behavior. 

The Five Phases of Educational Treatment guide the adults working with the child to utilize instructional approaches that support development of higher level social and emotional skills development. Many times the developmentally impeding functions fade or disappear when fewer emotional demands are made as a part of instruction.  Specifying the use of these instructional strategies in a BIP may be needed.

You may also be interested in reviewing information on the Behavioral Support page of the Texas Deafblind Project website.

Collage of positive behavior supports