Promoting PBS – New video from BILD

Today the BILD PBS animation video has been launched. This is a great video for promoting PBS in the UK. If you haven’t seen it please take 6 minutes to watch it. You will see from the thank you’s at the end that I have contributed to this video being made. I am very proud to have been part of this video and strongly support the main messages in the video. It gives a great introductory description about PBS.

There are a two teeny things that I wanted to share comment on. This is just my view, but I thought I would share my thoughts and hope it encourages you the reader to think broadly about the topic.

  1. “Some people prefer to call it Positive Behavioural Support”. What does this really mean? What is Positive Behavioural Support? Is it doing behavioural support with a positive attitude? Is it not negative behavioural support? Who does negative behavioural support anyway? My opinion is that this term is not in tune with ABA terminology. “Positive” means adding to, so adding behavioural support could mean anything. The JRC are adding behavioural interventions when they add contingent electric shocks. Is this Positive Behavioural Support?I feel this is implying a values judgement of good or bad, as in there is good behavioural support and bad behavioural support, like batteries have a good side and a dark side. This is against the practice of behavioural sciences that would not attribute good or bad to things people do, including themselves.
I think sometimes people feel the need to add the “al” to emphasise it uses behavioural science. But is it Cognitive BehaviourAL Therapy, or Applied BehaviourAL Analysis? It feels that people are keen to demonstrate that they know about the science, but forget how the science uses terms like “positive” when they do so, which in turn advertises what is not known. Here is the simplest I can break down the definition – Positive (adding) Behaviour (behaviour) Support (with support) – the defining point of PBS is that it’s not about reducing the few effective behaviours people with learning disability may have. Its about adding new behaviours so they don’t need to do things that cause distress to themselves or others. We support people to be more effective.
  1. This video doesn’t state this at all, but I worry it could be implied. There remains a rumbling that PBS is about improving quality of life, helping people get what they want or need. It really shouldn’t take PBS to get this. This should be standard learning disability support. Everyone who supports a person with learning disability should focus on helping people get what they want or need. If this is not happening can it really be called support?
Where PBS is different is it helps people to get to a functional thing. At present their only way of getting this thing causes harm or restrictions, to themselves or others. So by meeting this function it is increasing skills, increasing independence, reducing restrictions, and reducing harm to themselves or others. all at the same time! People should already be receiving support to get what they want and need. What they don’t have is a specific function being met which is distressing for them, and renders their support helpless. Improving quality of life is essential. But doing this without understanding the function of a challenging behaviour will only have limited success. If someone hits themselves in the face to tell you they have tooth pain, increasing community participation might help distract from the pain but the pain hasn’t been resolved.
The BILD video is a fantastic resource, and a great launch to the Centre for the Advancement of PBS. I hope these comments compliment the content of the video and get people thinking and talking about what PBS really is. It feels like we are still at the early stages of a long journey for PBS in the UK. This video is a great starting point to get people thinking about the finer points, discussing it, refining it. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to this video.