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Behaviour Gets Attention But Not in a Good Way


So, he’s not trying to get attention, but that behaviour sure manages to get everyone’s attention… and not always in a good way!

Challenging behaviours can disrupt learning environments, embarrass the student, his teachers or parents and restrict individuals from participating in many activities. Last month, we provided some tips to help you discover why your child or student may be repeating behaviours that create more problems than they solve. This month we will provide some tips to help deal with and hopefully prevent some of the behaviours you are most concerned about.

Tip 1 – REASON:

Remember that there is always a reason for the behaviour you see, even if you don’t know what it is. As well, the same behaviour may occur for a variety of reasons. When responding to a challenging behaviour it’s critical to consider why the individual is exhibiting that behaviour at that time. You would not deal with a tantrum caused by f ear or pain in the same way you would respond to the tantrum that happens when the child isn’t getting a chocolate bar he wants!


It is almost always better to set up situations that are least likely to result in a challenging behaviour than to have to respond to the behaviour afterwards. In other words, if you know the factors that tend to precipitate a challenging behaviour, try to alter the situation so the child doesn’t need to use a challenging behaviour to get his needs met. Small alterations can make a difference! Provide additional time or choices for the student who becomes stressed under time constraints or for whom personal control is important. Allow work to be done in a quieter or less stimulating environment if the student has issues with noise or distractibility. When the student learns that we respect his needs, he will be more likely to learn what we teach… that is, new ways of responding.


Remember that students with ASD may not always be able to communicate their wants and needs, particularly when under stress. We need to consider how we can systematically teach them another way to communicate their needs or concerns. Even though a student may have speech or another form of communication, he may not be able to remember the words he needs when he is upset. Use visual supports to cue him as to what he might say or do when a situation is difficult for him. Picture symbols for requesting “help” or a “break” may be useful. Problem solving cards are another strategy that can be used. When teaching the student a more appropriate way (than using a problem behaviour) to get his needs met, remember that the “new” way of communication must be as efficient (fast and easy) and effective (people will listen and honor the communication) as the challenging behaviour.