Alternatives to Restrictive Interventions for Autism

Alternatives to Restrictive Interventions for Autism

Nowadays, people are looking for alternatives to traditional restraints when it comes to managing challenging behavior in individuals with ASD. Traditional restraints include physical restraints, seclusion, and chemical restraints. These methods have been used for decades, but research shows that they can be harmful and even traumatizing for individuals with ASD.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to traditional restraints that are more effective and less harmful. These alternatives include:

  • Positive behavior support
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Social stories
  • Communication supports
  • Visual supports

These alternatives focus on understanding the individual and their behavior, and finding ways to support them in a positive and non-restrictive way. By using these methods, individuals with ASD can learn new skills, communicate more effectively, and reduce challenging behavior.


Positive Behavior Support

When it comes to managing the behavior of individuals with autism, Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a popular approach that emphasizes proactive strategies to prevent challenging behaviors from occurring in the first place. One key aspect of PBS is identifying the triggers that lead to problem behaviors. This involves becoming a “behavior detective” and carefully observing the individual to determine what situations, people, or events may be setting off their behavior.

Reinforcement Strategies

Once triggers have been identified, the next step is to develop strategies for reinforcing positive behaviors and discouraging negative ones. This can involve using rewards or incentives to encourage desired behaviors, such as giving a child a sticker for completing a task. However, it’s important to note that reinforcement strategies should not be seen as bribes, as they are intended to encourage positive behavior rather than simply buying compliance.

One popular PBS strategy is the use of “Jedi mind tricks” to redirect behavior. This involves using subtle cues or suggestions to encourage the individual to make a different choice. For example, if a child is fixated on a particular toy, a parent might say “I wonder what’s behind that curtain over there” to redirect their attention. While this approach may seem like trickery, it is actually a way of encouraging the individual to make a more positive choice without resorting to punishment or restriction.


Communication is Key, Even When It’s Non-Verbal

Communication is key when working with individuals with autism. However, communication doesn’t always have to be verbal. In fact, alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) can be just as effective, if not more so, than verbal communication.

Alternative and Augmentative Communication

AAC refers to various non-verbal communication methods that can help individuals with autism acquire and develop speech and language skills. This includes using gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and other visual supports, such as pictures and symbols. AAC can also provide individuals with an alternative means of communicating if they are unable to do so through speech.

Using AAC can be a fun and creative way to communicate with individuals with autism. For example, using picture cards or a communication board can help individuals express their wants and needs, make choices, and engage in conversation. Plus, it can be a great way to involve the individual in the communication process and give them a sense of control.

The Power of Choice

Speaking of control, giving autistic individuals a sense of control over their environment can be incredibly empowering. This is especially true when it comes to communication. By giving individuals with autism a choice in how they communicate, you are giving them back control over their own lives.

For example, instead of using a predetermined communication board, you can create a personalized communication book with pictures of the individual’s favourite things. This allows the individual to express themselves in a meaningful way and gives them a sense of ownership over their communication.


Sensory Strategies

When it comes to sensory strategies for autism, glitter jars are just the tip of the iceberg. Creating a sensory-friendly environment is key to helping individuals with autism regulate their sensory input. This can include adjusting lighting, temperature, and noise levels to reduce sensory overload. It can also involve providing sensory tools such as weighted blankets or fidget toys to help individuals feel more grounded.

But why stop there? Why not take things to the next level and create a sensory wonderland? How about a room filled with fluffy pillows, soft blankets, and calming scents? Or a space with a mini trampoline, crash pad, and sensory wall? The possibilities are endless, and the benefits are immense.

Sensory Diets

Another sensory strategy that goes beyond glitter jars is the concept of sensory diets. No, this doesn’t involve eating sensory-friendly foods (although that would be interesting). A sensory diet is a personalized plan that outlines specific sensory activities and tools that an individual with autism can use throughout the day to regulate their sensory input.

Think of it as a menu of sensory options. Maybe the individual needs some deep pressure input in the morning to help them wake up and feel alert. Or maybe they need some quiet time with a weighted blanket in the afternoon to help them calm down and focus. By incorporating sensory activities into their daily routine, individuals with autism can better manage their sensory needs and avoid sensory overload.

So, while glitter jars may be a fun and popular sensory tool, there are many other sensory strategies that can be just as effective (if not more so) in helping individuals with autism regulate their sensory input. The possibilities are endless, from creating a sensory wonderland to developing a personalized sensory diet.


Social Stories and Visual Supports

Social stories and visual supports are two popular alternative interventions for autism. These interventions help individuals with autism better understand social situations and routines.

Crafting Engaging Social Stories

Social Stories are short narratives that describe a social situation in a way that is easy for individuals with autism to understand. These stories are typically written in the first person and use simple language to describe the situation. For example, a Social Story might describe what it’s like to go to the grocery store or how to ask for help when feeling overwhelmed.

Crafting engaging Social Stories is key to their effectiveness. The stories should be tailored to the individual’s interests and needs and should include pictures or other visual aids to help illustrate the situation. For example, a story about going to the park might include pictures of swings, slides, and other playground equipment.

Visual Schedules and Timers

Visual Schedules and Timers are another popular intervention for individuals with autism. These tools help individuals understand and anticipate daily routines and activities. For example, a visual schedule might include pictures of a morning routine, such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast.

Visual timers are another useful tool. These timers can help individuals understand how much time is left for a particular activity and reduce anxiety and frustration. For example, a visual timer might be used to help an individual understand how much time is left for a therapy session or a homework assignment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *