While ecological changes aim to improve the fit between a person and their environment, positive programming aims to improve the person’s skills and competencies and thus their ability to cope with the environment.
General skills development focuses on improving people’s repertoires of socially appropriate responses in everyday situations. Having a wider range of responses increases the possibility of positive behaviour, especially when reinforced by stimulating and rewarding experiences.
In some situations, challenging behaviour exists because it serves a useful function for the person. Functionally equivalent and related skills development aims to teach people alternative, more socially appropriate ways of meeting or communicating those needs.
At the same time, the unpredictable and often uncontrollable nature of the world means that there will inevitably still be occasions when a poor “fit” exists between the person and their environment or where they are presented with a situation for which they have no suitable response available. Teaching coping and tolerance skills is a way of supporting people to cope with naturally occurring aversive events such as loud noise, crowded buses, disappointment etc.