Skip to main content

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a person centred framework for providing support in situations where there is, or there is a risk of, challenging behaviour. ‘Challenging behaviour’ is persistent behaviour that puts the physical safety of people at risk or that causes difficulties and limits a person’s ability to have a good life. Note: This does not include behaviours that are typically part of the autism spectrum such as ‘stimming’.

Behaviour is called ‘challenging’ because it challenges everyone who supports the person to understand why it is happening and to work together to find a solution.

PBS understands that challenging behaviour occurs for a reason and communicates important information about a person’s stress, distress and skill development.

Challenging behaviour happens as part of an interaction between three components (1) an individual, their current & past experiences and what they have learned (2) the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of other people in their lives & (3) the environments, communities and cultures they live in (e.g. Hastings et al, 2013). PBS addresses all of these areas. In many situations, it is likely that the demands of the person’s situation exceed their ability to cope positively.

PBS initially developed as an approach that supports individuals with disabilities but has evolved to include whole of organisation approaches including school-wide PBS where supports are delivered proactively on a three-tiered whole school basis.

The most important outcome in PBS is an improvement in a person’s quality of life. PBS understands that quality of life outcomes can only be defined by those people who are receiving support.

PBS is a blend of values & science. Key values include a commitment to providing support that

  • Shows respect for diversity
  • Promotes inclusion
  • Increases choice
  • Promotes equality of opportunity and human rights

PBS also uses evidence informed practice and data-based decision making

Aspect’s work on PBS

Aspect commits to implementing and continually improving Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) as part of Aspect’s Comprehensive Approach to meet Aspect’s vision, mission & values (link) and to meet national or state requirements.

Aspect has developed a number of resources that aim to make PBS accessible for everyone, whilst maintaining good practice. These resources are to be used freely and shared widely but if you do, please do link to Aspect. Each resource can be used individually or collectively as part of a step by step approach to PBS.

Aspect actively researches, develops and disseminates PBS practice through written information, workshops, conference presentations and via social media.

Including people with disabilities in PBS

Aspect works in partnership with Autistic people to co-produce research, deliver training, collaborate in service planning, present at conferences, and in peer mentoring programs. By collaborating with Autistic people we are recognising their expertise and their right to contribute to support services, which is best captured by the motto of the Autism Self-Advocacy Network ‘nothing about us without us’.

Who can help?

A range of services and supports exist to help individuals on the autism spectrum, parents, teachers and others to get the information and strategies they need. Ultimately, Positive Behaviour Support is done by the individual, their family members, carers and teachers and other staff who see the person every day; but there may also need to be specialist support.

Key messages

  • PBS is a scientific approach that aims to protect a person’s rights and to promote quality of life for them their families & others
  • It is true ‘discipline’, that is effective, evidence-based and promotes positive learning
  • Challenging behaviour results from an interaction between a person, those who support them and the environments they live in. It is no-one’s ‘fault’ but often reflects a mismatch between a person’s needs and what is provided
  • All behaviour has a purpose or ‘function’. It is important to work out what this is
  • PBS is different from general parenting approaches or popular behaviour management programs in that it is purely positive and carries out an comprehensive assessment of the individual closely matches the intervention to the assessment considering the function
  • PBS means we work positively and proactively
  • Team work and consultation is an important part of PBS
  • We implement our support consistently across settings and over time

We have published a Guide to Positive Behaviour Support for children up to age 12

This Guide to Positive Behaviour Support provides step by step approach so families and service providers can implement PBS in supporting young people on the autism spectrum.


Document Icon Fact Sheets

What is Challenging Behaviour

Document Icon Fact Sheets

What is Positive Behaviour Support

Step by Step guide to PBS

Developing a PBS plan (part 1)

PBS for people on the autism spectrum needs to be autism specific. This profile helps you get an understanding of the person, their quality of life, strengths & support needs.

This guide helps you understand whether your profile meets requirements

Starting a PBS plan (part 2)

PBS completes a functional behavioural assessment and uses this to develop a function based multi-element support plan.

This guide helps you develop a basic understanding of lower level or emerging challenges

This guide helps you review your plan according to good practice criteria

Online Interactive PBS Module

Aspect & Positive Partnerships have collaborated to develop an on-line interactive PBS module with a unique animated video to guide you through using the orange PBS template. It is free to use (but you have to register to access).

Starting your PBS plan (part 3)

This guide helps you plan for what to do in response to challenges focussing on calm early identification and de-escalation Aspect Practice PBS Behaviour Response Plan Information Sheet & Reviewing your Response plan

Putting PBS plans into practice (part 4)

This guide helps you to organise all of the action parts of the plan into a checklist that supports consistent implementation & monitoring

Checking your work (part 1)

Sometimes traditional PBS plan structures can result in a negative portrayal of the person. This checklist helps you to review PBS plans to make sure they are person centred.

Checking your work (part 2)

Sometimes plans are developed without adequate consultation with key stakeholders. These checklists help make sure that plans fit the context they are designed to support

Measuring Change

It is important that PBS demonstrates outcomes in terms of behaviour change. The Challenging Behaviour Checklist is one freely available measure that helps monitor progress.

Reviewing a service

PBS should build capacity and competence in families. This measure helps you to review your PBS service to measure this enablement.


Aspect Practice PBS Restricted Practices Information

Useful Links

Association for Positive Behaviour Support (APBS) - publishers of the Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions & Online PBS Module

British Association for Learning Disabilities (BILD) Centre for the Advancement of PBS - publishers of the International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support

PBS Academy - developers of PBS standards, competency framework

Subscribe to our newsletter and get regular updates of the latest news and events at Aspect.

Phone us to discuss how we can help you.

Call 1800 277 328

Send us a message and we'll get back to you.

Enquire with Autism Spectrum Australia