Teaching Alternative Skills
LINDA M. BAMBARA
This chapter addresses the second component of a positive behavior support (PBS) plan: teaching alternative skills. As discussed in earlier chapters, students typically engage in challenging behavior because they do not have the requisite social skills to influence people in their environment in intended ways, or because they have learned that challenging behaviors are more effective than other means to achieve this influence. An important goal of PBS is to identify the intended outcomes of challenging behavior with functional assessment, and to assist students to achieve these outcomes by teaching alternative skills that are more effective, efficient, and socially acceptable. Teaching alternative skills can help students get their needs met, change situations that trigger problem behaviors, and cope with difficult situations as they arise. Having acquired these skills, students become more independent and resilient (or adaptive) in their everyday encounters and less dependent on others' efforts to help them address difficult situations. The beauty of teaching alternative skills is that the skills targeted for instruction (e.g., communication, social skills, independence, problem solving, and coping/tolerance) are the same skills we hope to teach to all students; taken together, they define a high-quality education.