by M Tincani · 2007 · Cited by 40 — Origins of the debate may be traced to the position that. PBS is a new science, evolved from, yet different than, applied behavior analysis (ABA) (Carr

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The Behavior Analyst Today Volume 8, Issue 2 Page 179 Moving Forward: Positive Behavior Su pport and Applied Behavior Analysis Matt Tincani University of Nevada, Las Vegas Correspondence concerning this manuscript should be directed to: Matt Tincani, Department of Special Education, 4505 Mar yland Parkway, Box 453014, Las Vegas, NV, 89154-3014. Email:

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The Behavior Analyst Today Brady Page 180 Abstract A controversy has emerged about the relation ship between positive behavior support and applied behavior analysis. Some behavior analysts suggest that positive behavior support and applied behavior analysis are the same (e.g ., Carr & Sidener, 2002). Others argue that positive behavior support is ha rmful to applied behavior analysis (e.g., Johnston, Foxx, Jacobson, Green, & Mulick, 2006). Further, some proponents of positive behavior support describe it as a new science, evolved from ye t different than applied behavior analysis (Carr et al., 2002). These varying positions have ac companied confusion among behavior analysts about positive behavior support and its impact on the field. This article attempts to clarify this confusion by presenting one perspective on posi tive behavior support and its relationship to applied behavior analysis.

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The Behavior Analyst Today Volume 8, Issue 2 Page 181 Moving Forward: Positive Behavior Supp ort and Applied Behavior Analysis Positive behavior support (PBS) developed in the 1980s and 1990s as an approach to enhance quality of life and minimize challenging behavior (Carr et al., 2002). Founded in 1999, Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions publishes both conceptual and empirical articles on PBS using a variety of methodolog ies (e.g, Baker-Ericzén, Stahmer, & Burns, 2007; Harvey, Baker, Horner, & Blackford, 2003; Vaughn, White, Johnston, & Dunlap, 2005), though single-subject designs are very common. One feature of JPBI that distinguishes it from other behaviorally oriented journals, including Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , is that the vast majority of published studies ar e conducted in natural settings rather than in clinical settings. This is not to suggest that rese arch in laboratories or clinical settings is not important or valued; rather, it reflects an emphasis within PBS on external validity and contextual fit of interventions. As noted by Johnston et al. (2006), PBS has been associated with a great deal of federal funding and has been written into po licy at the federal level. For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Impr ovement Act of 2004 maintains provisions for fipositive behavioral interventions and supportsfl for children with disabilities who display problem behavior. Some states have also adop ted statutes prescribing PBS for persons with disabilities. Further, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the US Department of Education has dedicated considerable fundin g to support PBS intervention, training, and research. Importantly, these developments did no t come about as a result of campaigning by researchers within PBS, but rather because consumers (e.g., educators and parents) informed policy makers that PBS was having an important and durable impact on the lives of children. The PBS Controversy In recent years, a debate has evolved about positive behavior support and its relation to applied behavior analysis. Origins of the debate may be traced to the position that PBS is a new science, evolved from, yet differe nt than, applied behavior analysis (ABA) (Carr

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The Behavior Analyst Today Brady Page 182 et al., 2002). Although advocates of this position acknowledge the central influence of ABA in the heritage of PBS (Dunlap, 2006), they argue that the combined elements of PBS comprise a fundamentally new science to reduce challe nging behavior. In response, some behavior analysts have countered that PBS is not different from ABA (Carr & Sidener, 2002). Proponents of this view posit that the procedur es of PBS are largely, if not entirely, drawn from ABA and that attempts to conceptualize PBS as a new science have potentially harmful ramifications for the field of ABA. Furtheri ng this view, other behavior analysts have described PBS as a direct threat to ABA (J ohnston et al., 2006; Mulick & Butler, 2005). Accordingly, they imply that the successful dissemination of PBS as a new science will result in consumers™ rejection of ABA. Moreover, because many PBS practitioners lack formal training in ABA, they argue, PBS interven tions may result in deleterious effects for consumers. Diverging views have sparked debate among behavior analysts about PBS and its relationship to ABA. Although little direct evidence has been offered to support the claim that PBS is harmful to ABA, it is not unreaso nable for behavior analysts to have concerns given these issues. The purpose of this paper is to allay these concerns by providing one perspective on the relationship between PBS and ABA. Unique contributions of PBS to the field of ABA are offered in conjunction with suggestions of how practitioners of PBS and ABA may work together for mutual benefit. Are PBS and ABA Different? PBS is an application of behavior analysis which focuses on the core components of PBS identified in the literature (Anderson & Freeman, 2000; Anderson & Kincaid, 2005; Carr et al., 2002; Horner et al., 1990). These are (a) achievement of comprehensive lifestyle change and improvement of quality of life ac ross the lifespan; (b) incorporation of person- centered values and stakeholder input; (c) ecological and social validity of interventions; (d) a focus on prevention; (e) systems change; (f ) functional assessment of problem behavior; (e) multi-component intervention; and (f) empirical validation of behavior change

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The Behavior Analyst Today Volume 8, Issue 2 Page 183 procedures. None of these components are inco mpatible or inconsistent with ABA. Rather, PBS is a unique application of ABA which focuse s on them. From this perspective, PBS is not fundamentally different than other specialized ABA approaches, such as precision teaching (Binder, 1996) or organizational behavior mana gement (Culig, Dickinson, McGee, & Austin, 2005.). Similarly, practitioners of PBS apply basic behavioral principals to solve human problems by producing meaningful and durable outcomes. Research in ABA addresses a huge variety of questions, only some of which fit within the rubric of PBS. For example, some resear ch in ABA addresses questions about treatment utility and generality across time and situatio ns (e.g., Pierce & Schreibman, 1995); this research might fit within the PBS framework. Other research addresses more theoretical questions that have important applied implicat ions, such as the principles underlying the efficacy of an intervention (e.g., Goh, Iwata, & DeLeon, 2000). This research does not fit within PBS because it does not immediately a ddress questions about efficacy of methods in real world settings. Some proponents have characterized PBS as a new science influenced by multiple theoretical perspectives (Carr et al., 2002). Cross-cultural, biological, and community psychology are valuable in that they en hance the effectiveness and durability of PBS interventions (Carr, 2007); however, a survey of the PBS literature suggests a far greater influence of behavior analysis than other theoretical perspectives (Crone & Horner, 2003; Koegel, Koegel, & Dunlap, 1996; Lucyshyn, Dunlap, & Albin, 2002). It is thus important to acknowledge that PBS has and will continue to rely upon behavior analysis for its scientific foundation. Accordingly, experts who practice PBS need high quality training in behavioral principles and application of those principles to human problems. While the need for expert PBS practitioners to be trained in behavior analysis is apparent, many advocates of PB S are not behavior analysts. Administrators, teachers, early interventionists, parents, and other non-experts use principles of behavior in their everyday interactions with consumers, but are not familia r with the conceptual and empirical basis of

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The Behavior Analyst Today Brady Page 184 behavior analysis. Indeed, successf ul application of PBS within service delivery systems, as well as community and family contexts, requir es active collaboration of non-experts (Anderson & Kincaid, 2005; Vaughn et al., 2005) . PBS provides a framework within which practitioners and parents can become familiar wi th evidence-based practices that are directly and immediately relevant to their everyday work without the necessity of expert training in behavior analysis. Some applied behavior analysts may practi ce in the manner described and call it ABA; others may call it PBS. This is fine. It is more important to focus on developing empirically-driven interventions that produce meaningful outcomes than to debate labels, particularly when such debate has little demons trable benefit on the people applied behavior analysts serve. Is PBS Harmful? Some behavior analysts have argued that PB S is harmful to ABA. One premise of this argument is that PBS is fiunscientificfl becaus e PBS interventions have been evaluated with non-rigorous designs such as anecdotal observat ions (Johnston et al., 2006). It is important to recognize that PBS is a developing approa ch. Unlike many research studies published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and other behaviorally oriented journals, PBS interventions tend to focus on sustained behavior change within naturalistic settings, including the natural social systems in which individuals behave (e.g., Kern et al., 2006). Therefore, some PBS studies do not readily le nd themselves to highly controlled, single- subject designs executed in clinical settings. In some cases, quasi-ex perimental, descriptive, or group designs may prove more adequate (e.g., Scott et al., 2005). This does not diminish the importance of empirically validating beha vior change strategies within naturalistic settings; rather, it presents a challenge fo r PBS researchers to develop and implement rigorous designs appropriate for experiment al variables in naturalistic settings. Another concern raised by critics is that the finon-technicalfl nature of PBS necessarily diminishes the effectiveness of intervention (J ohnston et al., 2006). Specifically, it is argued,

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The Behavior Analyst Today Brady Page 186 In sum, PBS is not a threat to ABA or consumers of effective approaches. Rather, given the apparent commonalities among the approaches, the success of PBS is an opportunity for applied behavior analysts and ad vocates of PBS to work together for common benefit. Indeed, the purpose for establishing the Positive Behavior Support Special Interest Group (PBS SIG) of the Association for Behavior Analysis is to provid e behavior analysts and advocates of PBS a forum for mutual collaboration (see ). What Does PBS Contribute to ABA? Behavior analysts may still wonder what PBS ha s to offer ABA. There are at least four significant ways that PBS enhances ABA. They are (a) a focus on prevention; (b) a focus on systems and scaling-up; (c) a focus on contex tual fit; and (d) providing a successful model for dissemination. Each contribution is described below. A Focus on Prevention ABA has developed an impressive tech nology of positive, function-based interventions (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). Much of this literature has focused on strategies to reduce serious behavior problems , with less emphasis on preventing challenging behavior. Alternatively, investigators working within the PBS framework have developed a comprehensive approach to prevent challeng ing behavior, school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) (Anderson & Kincaid, 2005; Sugai & Horner, 2002). Borrowing from the disease prevention model, SWPBS incorporat es primary prevention through universal interventions, secondary prevention through targeted interventions, and tertiary prevention through function-based interventions. The success of SWPBS highlights the need for comprehensive prevention models within other service delivery systems, such as community mental health services (Reinke, Herman, & Tucker, 2006). Prevention strategies based in SWPBS provide an excellent compliment to other ABA approaches, and underscore the need for additional research focusing on prevention of challenging behavior. A Focus on Systems and Scaling-Up

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The Behavior Analyst Today Volume 8, Issue 2 Page 187 Behavior analysts have lamented resistance to behavioral approaches within social and educational service systems (Axelrod, 1996; Heward, 2003). Unfortunately, little behavior analytic research has focused on strategies fo r embedding effective interventions within such systems. In contrast, systems change is a core feature of PBS (Carr et al., 2002). Accordingly, PBS researchers have sought to change social systems to scale-up effective behavioral interventions. SWPBS provides an excellent example of system-wide behavior change (Sugai & Horner, 2002); other PBS researchers have examined strategies for extending PBS to respite care provider syst ems (Openden, Symon, Koegel, & Koegel, 2006) and state-wide service delivery systems (Fr eeman et al., 2005). The PBS model provides a framework for behavior analysts to embed resear ch-based interventions within a variety of educational and social services systems. A Focus on Contextual Fit Research published in Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions reflects an emphasis on behavior change within the natural environ ment. Contextual fit de scribes the compatibility of an intervention with variables in the natural environment (Albin, Luchyshyn, Horner, & Flannery, 1996). These include (a) characteristics of the person for whom the plan is designed; (b) variables related to the people wh o will implement the plan; and (c) features of environments and systems within which the plan will be implemented (p. 82). While ABA has developed an impressive technology of behavio r intervention, natural setting variables have been neglected in many intervention studies (S nell, Vorhees, & Chen, 2005). It is critical to develop a technology of behavior that is co mpatible with natural contexts. Thus, PBS researchers have focused on interventions in natural settings, incorporating parents, teachers, and other non-experts as interventi on agents (Dunlap, Ester, Langhans, & Fox, 2006; Hieneman, Dunlap, & Kincaid, 2005). This is not to say that research in clinic or laboratory settings is not important or valu ed, it simply reflects a shift in emphasis to promote durability of interventions within natural settings. A Successful Model for Dissemination

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The Behavior Analyst Today Brady Page 188 Finally, PBS has been written into state and federal laws and has been associated with considerable funding at the federal level. Al though some critics have suggested that the success of PBS threatens ABA, it is more fruitful to examine what has made PBS successful and attempt to replicate those components in other areas of ABA. For example, legislative advocacy among consumers of PBS resulted in the inclusion of PBS within federal laws. Behavior analysts might encourage similar le gislative advocacy and lobbying to promote other behavioral approaches with in state and federal statutes. Moving Forward The current discussion about ABA and PBS may positively impact the field of ABA in several ways. For example, the 2006 and 2007 Asso ciation for Behavior Analysis conferences included excellent presentations on disseminat ion of behavior analysis by presenters well known to the field. This recent interest may reflect the recent PBS/ABA controversy, which has focused on the need for behavior ana lysts to more effect ively communicate and disseminate ABA to consumers (Johnston et al., 2005). While the notion that applied behavior analysts should more effectively communicate their interventions is not new (Rolider, Van Houten, and Axelrod, 1998), the current debate may encourage more empirically driven strategies for disseminating and scaling-up ABA interventions. The debate may also encourage behavior analysts to focus on systems interventions, which have been neglected within much of co ntemporary ABA, but are a core component of PBS (Carr et al., 2002). From a behavior an alytic perspective, systems are shared contingencies of reinforcement for behavior of consumers, including parents and educators, who implement interventions. Systems are the fo cus of school-wide PBS, in which the whole- school is regarded as the unit of analysis (S ugai & Horner, 2002). Prior to intervening, PBS practitioners seek to understand the unique outc omes fivaluedfl by professionals in order to assist them in producing those outcomes. Develo ping interventions that address the values of consumers is not tantamount to watering down interventions; to the contrary, systematic

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The Behavior Analyst Today Volume 8, Issue 2 Page 189 assessment of consumer values is necessary fo r effective interventions to be embedded and sustained in real world settings. Finally, the success of PBS is an opportunit y for applied behavior analysts to lobby in favor of their services. Legislative advocacy of PBS proponents resulted in federal and state statutes mandating functional behavioral as sessments for children with disabilities who display challenging behavior. Consequently, school districts have sought and, in some cases, mandated services of Board Certified Behavio r Analysts (Shook & Neisworth, 2005) to conduct functional behavioral assessments. Co llaborative legislative efforts among applied behavior analysts and proponents of PBS could re sult in additional opportunities to advocate for services of well qualified behavior analysts who practice PBS at local, state, and federal levels. Advocates have acknowledged the central influence of ABA in the development of PBS (Dunlap, 2006). The field of ABA may continue to inform PBS in critical ways. For example, although PBS has enjoyed relatively widespread acceptance and funding, recognized national standards would be beneficial. PBS practitioners should look to the Behavior Analyst Certification process for ways to standardize and ensure quality of PBS training and implementation. Given the considerable overlap among ABA and PBS practitioner skills, it would seem critical for both groups to maintain an open dialog on training and standardization issues.

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