Looking Beyond Behavior: Schoolwide Discipline and Individual Supports for Students with ASD (page 3)

By — Autism Society
Updated on Oct 25, 2010

Benefits of Positive Behavior Supports

The use of a three-tiered PBS approach that includes students with ASD has multiple potential benefits. Including students with ASD at the universal (schoolwide) and secondary (group) levels of support may decrease many problem behaviors. Fewer students and problems would then need to be addressed at a higher and more intensive level of support. While the IDEIA offers additional requirements for the discipline of children with disabilities, research indicates that if teachers and other school personnel have the knowledge and expertise to provide appropriate positive behavioral supports and interventions at all levels in the school, behavior problems can be greatly diminished for all students, including those with ASD.

In Illinois, we are learning through the State Accountability for All Students (SAAS) data that students who are provided more individual accommodations spend a greater amount of their day in general education classes and have fewer behavior problems. Students who are in the classroom more and who have lower office discipline referral and suspension/expulsion rates make greater academic progress (SAAS Issue Brief: Discipline and Students with Disabilities, May 2004). Additional benefits include more involvement in overall school activity, an increased number of staff and peers who understand the social and communication styles of the student with ASD, and increased positive interactions between students with ASD and others in their school community. Schools that are more effective in teaching positive behaviors and addressing behavioral issues, such as bullying, in a more systematic manner are going to be more supportive settings for students on the spectrum. When a student on the spectrum acts out, we must look beyond the student and examine what is happening overall in the school. Schools that are more effective for all students are going to be more successful for students with ASD.

About the Authors

Kathy Gould is director of the Illinois Autism Training and Technical Assistance Program.

Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., is director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism and board chair of the Autism Society of America.


Freeman, R., Eber, L., Anderson, C., Irvin, L., Horner, R., Bounds, M., & Dunlap, G. (2006). Building inclusive school culture using school-wide positive behavior support: Designing effective individual support systems for students with significant disabilities. Research and Practices for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31 (1), 4-17.

Horner, R.H., Sugai, G., Todd, A.W., & Lewis-Palmer, T. (2005). Schoolwide positive behavior support. In L.M. Bambrara & L. Kern (Eds.), Individualized supports for students with problem behaviors (pp. 359-390). New York: Guilford Press. Turnbull A., Edmundson, H., Griggs, P., Wickman, D., Sailor, W., Freeman, R., Guess, D., Lassen, S., McCart, A., Park, J., Riffel, L.,

Turnbull, R., & Warren, J. (2002). A blueprint for schoolwide positive behavior support: Implementation of three components. Exceptional Children, 68, 377-402.

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