Autism Spectrum Australia

Positive Behaviour Support

PBS Resources

The most frequent complaint of most parents of children on the autism spectrum is that other people don’t understand why their children do what they do. The glares in the supermarket, the mumbled comments about poor parenting or the child needing a good smack show that other people often don’t understand why challenging behaviour happens and what to do about it.

What is challenging behaviour?

Challenging behaviour is persistent behaviour that causes difficulties and limits a person’s ability to have a good life. It’s called ‘challenging’ because it challenges everyone who supports the person to understand why it is happening and to work together to find a solution. Click here for more information on what challenging behaviour is.

Why does it happen?

There’s no simple answer to this question but it is not bad parenting. Challenging behaviour is part of an interaction between three things (1) an individual, their current & past experiences and what they have been taught (2) the other people in their lives and (3) the environments, communities and cultures they live in. Read more.

What is PBS?

PBS is based in the science of learning and there is strong evidence for PBS as an effective approach for challenging behaviour. PBS is both positive and proactive. Positive means increasing and strengthening helpful behaviours through ‘reinforcement’ (not using punishment or negative consequences to reduce the challenge). Proactive means anticipating where things may go wrong and preventing that from happening rather than just reacting when things go wrong. Read more.

Centre for the Advancement of PBS at BILD

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. There are a range of types of services which can assist in situations where there is challenging behaviour. Read more.

Aspect delivers PBS and other support services, click here for more information

We hope this information helps you and others to understand challenging behaviour from a Positive Behaviour Support perspective and to be concerned less by looks and comments in the supermarket and other misunderstandings. Aspect has developed a service checklist to help families and support services to make the most of Positive Behaviour Support.

Key messages

  • PBS is a scientific approach that aims to protect a person’s rights and to promote quality of life for them and their families
  • 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 individualised comprehensive assessment of the individual and the behaviour and 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
  • It includes an investigation or assessment before working out our individual support plan
  • We  implement our support plan consistently across settings and over time.

Recipe for Success workshop 

Key Resources

We have published a series of fact sheets and checklists to help you to understand and implement Positive Behaviour Support

  1. Asking for good practice PBS Aspect Practice PBS Checklist for Families Receiving PBS Services

  2. Developing a PBS plan (part 1Aspect Practice PBS Individual Autism Profile Information Sheet & Reviewing your Autism Profile

  3. Starting PBS plan (part 2Aspect Practice PBS Behaviour Form Information Sheet  & Reviewing your Behaviour Form

  4. Starting PBS plan (part 3Aspect Practice PBS Behaviour Response Plan Information Sheet & Reviewing your Response plan

  5. Putting PBS plans into practice (part 4Aspect Practice PBS Implementing Checklist PDF & Typeable version

  6. Checking your work 1 Aspect Practice PBS Person Centred Checklist

  7. Checking your work 2 Aspect Practice PBS Contextual Fit Checklist for families and Schools

  8. Measuring change Aspect Practice PBS Measuring Behaviour Change

  9. Reviewing a service Aspect Practice PBS Measuring Family Empowerment


Positive Behaviour Support