ASERT does not offer crisis services through our Resource Center. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health distress or thoughts of suicide please call or text 988 for support.
S.E.A.T. is a quick and easy guide for your toolbox to help you understand why behaviors are happening and what you can do to help.
Why? To get sensory experience — it feels good.
When? Anytime, even when alone
How to help? Find an activity that provides the same sensory experience
Example: An individual is humming loudly to hear his own voice, offer him headphones that play music
Non-example: An individual is humming loudly to hear his own voice and you give him a light up stick
What to do Proactively? Have available access to sensory items through the day
Why? To get out of unwanted activities or interactions
When? Something is hard, boring, not fun
How to Help? Break the task down into a smaller step/ teach to ask for a break/ provide tons of praise for working hard
Example: An individual is asked to clean up and they start to tantrum, ask them to pick up one item and put it away, then praise, help them with the rest
Non-example: An individual has been asked to clean up and they start to tantrum, you tell them they don’t have to clean up anymore
What to do Proactively? Keep tasks small with frequent breaks and build in fun activities with boring activities
Why? To get access to people or interactions
When? Not getting enough attention or reaction
How to Help? Provide tons of praise for appropriate requests for your attention/teach to ask for attention appropriately
Example: If the individual is screaming while two adults are speaking to each other, let the individual know when they are quiet they can talk too and praise for a moment of quiet and provide attention
Non-example: If the individual is screaming while two other adults are speaking to each other, stop your conversation and give your undivided attention to the individual
What to do Proactively? Let the person know you have to speak with another person but if they need you tap your shoulder and provide tons of attention for appropriate behavior other times of the day
Why? To get access to items/activities
When? Something wanted is not available
How to Help? Offer an alternative, “you can’t have this but you can do A or B.” Or First-then, “first we do this, then you can have that!”
Example: If the individual is crying because they went to the ice cream store and arrived and it was closed, let the individual know that you can either go to the grocery store to get ice cream or another ice cream store
Non-example: If the individual is crying because they went to the ice cream store and arrived and it was closed, so you give them table to play with instead
What to do Proactively? Use First/Then Statements and let them know when an activity is going to end by setting a timer
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.