Positivity is paramount!
19th October 2018
Focus on the positive! That was the key message from independent autism expert Geoff Evans when he spoke about challenging behaviours to more than 200 parents and professionals at The SNAP Centre.
Drawing on more than 30 years’ experience Geoff delivered three talks on ‘A Holistic Approach to Behaviours of Concern, Meltdowns and Closedowns’ as part of SNAP’s autumn training programme.
Geoff began his talk by reminding us that we are all capable of behaviours that can be challenging.
“Whatever you find challenging, is challenging! We all have different thresholds of challenge, some things you can cope with, some you can’t, it depends on how you perceive it. We need to be aware of our individual perspective of the behaviour and keep it in perspective.”
“To begin to address challenging behaviours in others, we must start by addressing our own well-being and happiness, be positive and recognise our own strengths and those in a child with autism. When we see those abilities of the child, it can help us to create coping strategies with them. Adjust your outlook from focusing on the three per cent of the time when things aren’t going right, to keeping in mind the 97 per cent of the time that has gone right.”
Geoff urged his audience to see the environment from the child’s eye and accept their perspective of a situation, and find ways to work with it.
“A personalised approach is not about fitting square pegs into round holes, but maybe making that hole bigger. If we can appreciate the sensory overload certain situations can create in a child with autism, we can start to avoid that overload and create a more comfortable environment for them.”
“When talking about behaviour, describe it, don’t just put a label on it. The more we describe the detail of a problem, the more we can see how to work on it, and the more we can describe it to others to support those change strategies. And it’s so important that everyone in that child’s world is working together – the holistic approach.”
Geoff outlined the factors that can contribute to challenging behaviours:
* Underlying health issue
* Stress and anxiety
* Over or under demands made on the individual
* Lack of confidence
* Difficulties understanding themselves
* Difficulties understanding others
“The first starting point is to check to see if your child has any health issues that are causing them distress and that they are unable to communicate to you, “said Geoff.
“Moving on from this help them to find ways to cope with their anxiety and stress. Your child may have coping strategies themselves and you can work to develop these together. For example flapping their arms may be a way they behave in a stressful situation, can you turn that behaviour into something more acceptable by giving them something to hold and shake instead? Can you help them to write their worries down and feed them to a soft toy worry monster who will take them away, or write the list on a computer and put that list into the waste bin.”
“Giving them a meaningful activity helps to boost their strengths and abilities, and recognising when and what makes them happy is essential to being able to improve behaviour.”
Parents found Geoff’s talks packed full of sensible advice and information and left feeling enlightened.
“I now understand I need to take care of myself in order to support my child better. I will keep things in perspective while concentrating on the positives,” said one attendee, while another appreciative member of Geoff’s audience
“I’m feeling rejuvenated and positive in our dealing with behavioural challenges at home with my child.”
“I feel much more confident and actually proud of what we have achieved so far!”
Professionals equally found their presentation from Geoff to be beneficial.
“Really helpful in suggesting ways to support children in school, and really good to understand the world from the child’s perspective.”
Geoff will be back at The SNAP Centre early next year to further explore strategies. Look out for more details on this in the coming months.