Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Family Perspectives on Inclusive Lifestyles for People with Problem Behavior

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Family Perspectives on Inclusive Lifestyles for People with Problem Behavior

Article excerpt

Positive behavioral support is characterized by value-based principles consistent with the developmental disability policy of independence, productivity, and inclusion. Merging the behavioral research body of knowledge with current work in augmentative communication, self-determination, friendship facilitation, school inclusion, supported employment, and supported living, positive behavioral support principles, as identified in Figure 1, offer a wholistic and multifaceted approach to providing personalized supports and services. Increasingly, research and demonstration models characterized by positive behavioral support have been described as emphasizing inclusive lifestyle change (Carr et al., 1994; Foster-Johnson, Ferro, & Dunlap, 1994; Koegel, Koegel, & Dunlap, 1996; Lucyshyn, Olson, & Homer, 1995).

Homer and his colleagues described the meaning of a lifestyle focus as follows:

The positive/nonaversive approach focuses on

the lifestyle of the individual, in addition to the

frequency, duration, and intensity of the

challenging behaviors (Homer, Dunlap, & Koegel,

1988). Behavioral support should result in

durable, generalized changes in the way an

individual's behaves, and these changes should affect

individuals access to community settings, social

contacts, and toe a greater array of preferred

events. Among the most important issues for a

technology of behavioral support is recognition

that the standards for assessing "success" are

changing. (Homer et al., 1990, p. 127)

From this definition, indicators of lifestyle quality appear to be access to community settings, social contacts, and a broad range of preferred events.

If Homer et al. (1990) are correct in stating that the "standards for assessing 'success' are changing" (p. 127), educators and researchers have not yet provided a definitive determination of exactly what the new standards are for evaluating lifestyle-change efficacy.

We define an inclusive lifestyle as pervasive participation in family, friendships, school, work, and community life consistent with one's preferences and characterized by personalized supports and reciprocal relationships. Despite the growing body of research and policy supporting inclusion of students with disabilities in general education settings (Hasazi, Johnston, Liggett, & Schattman, 1994; Osborne & Dimatta, 1994), ample evidence shows that families, schools, and communities are experiencing significant barriers in accomplishing successful inclusion of students with problem behavior (Homer, Diemer, & Brazeau, 1992; Stanford Research Institute, 1990; White, Lakin, Bruininks, & Li, 1991).

Consistent with the participatory action research model in which potential research beneficiaries collaborate to define the research agenda from the outset (Hoshmand & Polkinghorne, 1992; Lather, 1986; Turnbull, A. P., 1994; Whyte, Greenwood, & Lazes, 1991), we undertook this exploratory study to provide input to researchers on family priorities related to inclusive lifestyle issues so that researchers can take these priorities into account when planning and implementing research. From the larger database that was gathered (Turnbull, A. P., & Ruef, in press), this article's primary research question is: What are family perspectives on inclusive lifestyle issues for people with problem behavior?


We used telephone interviews for data collection. The in-depth interviews enabled families to define the field of inquiry by raising topics of interest to them (Ferguson, Ferguson, & Taylor, 1992; Stainback & Stainback, 1989).


Using purposive sampling, we selected the family participants. We sought nominations of families from many sources, including family organizations (e.g. …

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