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.
This resource, developed by ASERT, provides information for direct support staff on how to support individuals with autism who may engage in challenging behavior and ways that support staff can help keep everyone safe.
It’s likely that a person with autism you support experiences a variety of behaviors that you must respond to while maintaining professional practice. This can become tricky in situations when challenging behaviors that aren’t safe become chronic, appear to be emerging, or take place with sudden onset due to social or sensory triggers in the environment, changes in routine or even memories of past trauma events. Even trickier is responding with what is called “positive behavior support.” Positive behavior support is evidence-based, meaning that it is proven to be a support strategy that leads to better outcomes in individual safety. One way to think about positive behavior support is to validate or praise safe behaviors when then happen in the moment, rather than to be quick to judge or punish unsafe behaviors when they happen. Additionally, redirecting unsafe behaviors with positive support will keep both you and the individual safer in challenging situations.
Review the individual’s current goals to identify whether there are areas that new behaviors should be encouraged. Begin the process of fostering the new behavior using the strategies provided here.
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.