Special Needs Student Responds to Positive Behavior Support

Harbor Student Responds to Positive Behavior Support

When Tyler began at Harbor, things did not always run smoothly for him. His behavior served a function that often needed much attention. He was a physically aggressive student and the talking point of many behavioral meetings. The staff’s highest hope was that his day would go smoothly. 

Now, he runs errands, visits classrooms and participates in academic work. That is the definition of success at Harbor...but how did we do it?

It’s called PBS, not the TV channel that asks for donations, but a method of working with children like Tyler, that seeks to support and reinforce appropriate behavior and eliminate negative, problem behaviors. It stands for Positive Behavioral Support

Whereas the old methods of behavioral intervention would dole out punishment or give negative consequences when a student encountered difficulty, PBS builds on success and enforces positive actions. It has proven to be a whole lot more successful.  

Among the strategies for supporting positive behavior are behavior charts, visual reminders and token economies. Any successful positive behavior plan includes routines, rules and clear expectations. It is important that the student sees these expectations. They can be posted in the halls, on classroom walls and anywhere else in the child’s line of sight. 

It takes teamwork to achieve the kind of success we arrived at with Tyler. His paraprofessional, his classroom teacher, his behaviorist, his parent and others made him the quintessential success story of Harbor School. It started with a behavior plan. Factors included in that plan were frequent rewards, movement breaks and positive reinforcement. Rewards and reinforcements were based on his interests, things that he was willing to work for. This allowed Tyler to take ownership in his own behavior.
Every half hour, Tyler was expected to check off whether or not he followed a simple set of rules, as well as whether he adhered to said rules. Rewards were earned if he was successful for a certain number of days in a row.  Multiple layers of positive behavior supports were used and, as a result, Tyler knows the rules by heart, routinely checking off his compliance.  

This behavior plan worked because Tyler wanted it to. It may have been designed by professionals, but it is still the will of the child that makes it work. To us, this is a thing of beauty. PBS also works class-wide, or even school-wide. The group simply adheres to one set of cues and prompts for certain behaviors. School rules and their consequences are clear and visible. Students can win prizes or special privileges for positive behavior. Sometimes systems are implemented where students can win points or currency which they can use toward prizes.  

At Harbor, we are simply geared toward individual attention. It fills us with pride to not only see a child’s behavior turn around, but to know that he or she played a part in it. Negative reactions to behavior like the kind Tyler used to exhibit might seem like the natural ones. They may even slip from time to time. Supporting positive behavior, however, requires training and discipline, which are then passed on to the student.    

Our mission at Harbor School:
Provide a safe and nurturing educational environment dedicated to the vision that individuals with disabling conditions are entitled to a full and meaningful life.

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.

Anne Gunteski,
     Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ