Challenging Behaviour Series: Escape Behaviour

Welcome to SAAAC online and part two of our
challenging behaviour series. The purpose of these series is to understand the function
of challenging behaviours. It is important to remember that these behaviours are not
random. Most individuals with autism have trouble communicating both verbally and non-verbally
and challenging behaviours can be a means of communicating certain needs and preferences.
But understanding what these behaviours are trying to tell us, we can then create strategies
to help decrease these behaviours. Today we’ll be looking at escape behaviours, which are
behaviours that are generally used to get away from people, tasks, or situations. Escape
behaviours can be very diverse; they could range from self-injurious behaviour with the
student hurting himself, to getting up and leaving an activity. Even though the action
of these behaivours can be different, the functions of these behaviours is the same;
to get away from a task, situation, or a person. Not all behaviours occur because a child wants
to obtain something; many times behaviours occur because the child wants to get away
from something, or avoid something all together. Escape behaviours can occur because of frustration,
anxiety, boredom, pain, or over-stimulation. Often once a child learns to use these behaviours
to escape a situation, they can quickly become an automated response when facing similar
situations. So it’s very important that we address these behaviours as effectively as
we can. So how do we do that? When trying to reduce escape behaviours, we need to ask
ourselves a few questions. Why does a child feel the need to escape the situation? What
is it about the situation that’s causing distress? Here are some examples of conditions that
may lead to these behaviours. One, the demands placed on the child are too high. Try lowering
the demands, for example, when completing a twelve piece puzzle, have eight pieces completed
so the child only has to complete four pieces. Two, the support given is not enough. Try
providing an extra level of support when doing new or challenging tasks. For example, use
hand over hand when writing levels for the first time. Three, the activity is frustrating
or over whelming. Try fading the child into the situation slowly and progressively. For
example, when introducing to circle time, start with two minutes, and slowly increase
the time they are a part of the circle. Four, the child needs a break. Try to provide plenty
of breaks throughout the day. Teach them how to ask for one with a visual picture or a
reminder. Be sure to reinforce them right away by stooping the activity and honoring
their request. So if you see these behaviours, you need to ask yourself, “Why are they a
occurring?”, and, “What strategies do I have in place so that my child can effectively
communicate their needs?”. You know your child best, so help them help themselves.

2 thoughts on “Challenging Behaviour Series: Escape Behaviour

  1. Very good ideas, but I am concerned that by showing people when they are upset, they may not want their most sensitive moments aired permanently online. I hope full consent was given by the autistic persons in the film. If not, I would hope that the faces be blurred out. #ActuallyAutistic

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