Section 3: Understand how to support individuals to develop coping strategies
Q13: Explain how an individual with autism’s behaviour can have an impact on them and others. (3.1)
a) Impact on the individual The behaviour that an individual displays should always be seen as a form of expression. The behaviour can be due to many different reasons, such as anxieties or being uncomfortable in a situation. Displayed behaviour can have both positive and negative impact on the individual themselves and the others around them. Positive behaviour can impact the individual by developing their confidence and self-esteem. It allows them to communicate successfully and controls their impulsive urges. However, negative behaviour can also impact the individual’s confidence, but this time with a decrease. It can cause the individual to become stressed and anxious, therefore stunting the development of confidence or independence. Displaying behaviour that challenges can not only be a difficult view for those around them but also the individual themselves. They may also physically hurt themselves due to stress (e.g. head banging) and if this is left and not seen to, this can progressively get worse and could become a habit.
b) Impact on others It can also allow others to see that they have enough confidence to be independent and evidences their ability to be able to integrate into social situations. This can push for further independence and time out in the community, as well as giving their care worker a break. Negative behaviour can impact others as they may actively seek to avoid the individual displaying the
challenging behaviour. This can also end up with care workers restricting activities, freedom and community visits.
Q14: Give examples of the following strategies that can be used in relation to behaviour that challenges: (3.2)
The care worker or family member should ensure that a person-centric approach is kept, including within the environment and space be kept positive regardless of the situation. This can support the individual to feel less anxious, worried and stressed. The environment needs to be inclusive to the individual i.e. be created to support their preferences and these should be maintained in and out of the environment. All individuals with autism should have their own support plans for behavior that should be specific for the individual. This should outline any possible challenging behaviours and what to do and how to help, as well as be kept up-to-date and about the individual.
b) De-escalation techniques
These techniques can be deployed at the stage where behaviour that challenges is about to be displayed. These techniques include encouraging the individual to remove themselves from the situation, as well as the environment itself; removing any trigger sounds or objects that could interfere and cause a sensory overload; and using person-centric communication styles to calm the individual as recommended by their support plan.
c) Coping strategies
An individual may be able to manage their own challenging behaviour by doing the following: the individual may be able to go into a routine to help them divert their attention from the situation, which means a routine should always be in place, it can also support them to develop their independence in difficult situations where they may feel angry or stressed; or the individual may use sensory resources to support them through the situation, like music or a material.
Q15: Describe ways to support an individual who is anxious and struggling to contain their own behaviour. (3.3)
It can be challenging to support an individual with autism who is anxious and struggles to control their behaviour, there should always be an up to date support plan in place for that individual. There are a number of ways someone can approach this, such as using information and knowledge to understand the root of the problem. Having experience of the individual’s personality and usual behaviour can help to support the individual in containing their behaviour. Once the root has been sourced, the next steps can be taken to eradicate the source. It can also be beneficial to know the individual’s sensory needs as certain activities that match their preference may calm the individual down; using the individual’s preferred communication method can also support the individual.
Q16: Describe how to support individuals to understand their behaviour in terms of: (3.4)
a) Events and their feelings leading up to it
It is important that individuals are aware of their behavior which can be told to the individual in a variety of ways including social stories. However, this can also be used to support individuals with upcoming events and their feelings surrounding it, such as showing the individual pictures and visual representation of the event to help settle them. Using words, whether positive or negative, can also be beneficial as it can help the individual prepare for the potential good and worrying parts of the event. It can be difficult for someone with autism to fully comprehend a situation or their own emotions, so it’s important that enough preparing has been done before the event. The individual can also use the graphical representation to share their worries and concerns with family members and care workers.
b) Their actions
It can be difficult for those with autism to understand their previous actions, and once again, graphical representation with photographs, words, and symbols can be a big help here; using these can be beneficial for both positive and negative communication to help define their actions being good or bad. The symbols can also represent their actions e.g. hitting, smiling, and so on, which could be beneficial to identify the positive and negative behaviour portrayed in the symbols. Despite this, it may not always be possible for an individual to understand the abstract of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ so the symbols may not always work.
c) The consequences of their behaviour
It is important for everyone to recognise the consequences of their behaviours, and this does not exclude those with autism. It might be more difficult for someone with autism to fully understand and learn from, but it is still important for them to know so they are more aware for next time. This can be done in similar ways as mentioned previously with graphical representations, as well as implementing a reward system that supports good behaviour. This can help the individual to correlate the reward with positive behaviour which can support and push for less negative behaviour. Negative behaviour can similarly be given something in return but with the removal of an enjoyable activity or, at least, a delay to show positive and negative consequences of actions.
Q17: Describe how family members can be supported to cope with behaviour that challenges. (3.5)
It can be difficult for family members to cope with behaviour that challenges but support can be available. Simple support such as having an open-door policy for family members to talk about their worries and concerns can be very helpful through an open door policy with senior staff. This does not necessarily have to be about autism and may even be unrelated. Care workers sharing information about support plans can also be helpful for family members as they can use the plan at home to cope with behaviour that challenges. Care workers can also share information about helpful techniques to support those with autism when their behaviour challenges and family members can also share their advice. In some cases, home visits may also be necessary. Care workers can also let family members know about the support that is available, including counselling, respite care, voluntary agencies, social activities or other opportunities available within their community.
Q18: Identify sources of support in relation to behaviours that challenge for the individual with autism and their family. (3.6)
For those who struggle with autism and sorrow, whether an individual with autism or their family, can get support through counselling or just reassurance from an expert. The feeling of confusion might be common for the family members, and they can get support through health workers, teachers, social workers, sensory specialists, speech and language therapists, and educational psychologists. There is also practical support that family and the individual can receive which can be sought out through respite care, benefit advice and activities and advices offered by the statutory and volunteer sector.