Raquelle Solon, FEI Business Solutions Engineer
It’s Autism Awareness Month. Everyone is flaring out with puzzle pieces and blue lights. You’ve likely heard the ferociously awesome stories of Dr. Temple Grandin, who went from being nonverbal to being a respected leader in the cattle industry, or Carly Fleischmann, the first ever autistic talk show host.
What we don’t often hear about are the hard stories that involve kids who try to communicate with us by hitting, kicking, biting, pulling hair, etc.
I read a blog recently that hit home on so many levels. The author speaks about those with autism trying to communicate through what we see as less desirable behaviors—that those behaviors are a means to meet the needs they cannot otherwise verbalize. As a mom, the author finds she is isolating both her child and herself to minimize the negative impact on others, but also recognizes how others then react to her child, which is counterproductive for everyone involved. Those with autism and those in the community would benefit from engaging in a healthy relationship.
Having raised a child who has exhibited some self-harming behaviors, I felt an immediate kinship with this woman and found her attitudes lined up fairly with the philosophy of The Mandt System®. Mandt believes all behavior is communication. Crisis (hitting, kicking, biting) typically occurs when we’ve missed what has triggered an individual, didn’t understand or incorporate their preferred de-escalation strategies, or gave a command like “Stop!”, “Don’t” or “Quit!” without providing a behavior expectation. We might also be trying to gain compliance in the crisis phase instead of focusing on keeping people safe.
I started in the field of crisis intervention in the late ‘90s and applied the techniques and strategies from work in my home, for my young son. When I sat through my first Mandt training program in 2015, I almost broke down crying a handful of times. The reason? After 15-plus years of being in the field and practical application of crisis intervention strategies at home, I never once learned key concepts that would have helped me with my own son:
As we join to raise awareness of autism, I would like to challenge you to look critically at your intervention programs. Do they align with a trauma-informed approach? Is the focus on building healthy relationships with those you serve and amongst staff? Do they incorporate concepts of ABA or PBIS?
Contact me for more information regarding Mandt and how I joined the ranks of thousands of individuals building healthy relationships while minimizing trauma and challenging behaviors in our homes and workplaces.