At Freedom Care one of our specialist care services centres around autism, be it respite care for children with autism or autism residential care for older service users. You will notice on our site that our homes are registered from 18 years old, but an exception with CQC can easily be made if the individual was any younger than this; after all we want to be able to care for everyone that needs it, regardless of age.

Looking after a loved one with autism can be a challenge. People with autism or Asperger syndrome may appear to behave unusually. There will generally be a reason for this: it can be an attempt to communicate, or a way of coping with a particular situation.

Knowing what causes challenging behaviour can help one develop ways of dealing with it so every month we’re going to look at some of the more common questions people have with regard to behaviour…

Not all of the examples over the coming months will apply to the person with autism you know, but you may find some of the strategies useful to adapt to other situations. Every situation and person is unique which is why keeping a behaviour diary can be useful for examining an individual situation.

Activity transition times – when challenging behaviour occurs during transition between different activities

People with autism can find it both difficult to understand such an abstract concept as time and shift their attention from one task to the next. Visual supports should help address this issue.

Structuring transition times

  • Have a visual, concrete representation of how long they need to wait before the activity is going to begin – this could be an electronic timer, sand timer, or stickers on a clock face.

  • If they find it difficult to wait for the next activity, could the transition be made as minimal as possible? If not how about having a transition box? This can contain a number of different activities and could keep them focused during these times, making an unstructured timeframe much more structured.

Shifting attention

  • Many documentation has highlighted the difficulties that people with autism can have with shifting their attention, which can particularly impact at transition. He may need a visual warning again, which could be a timer to show them that when the sand or numbers run out, the activity is finished.

  • This could be coupled with a visual timetable showing them the rest of the day’s activities or a now-and-next board, so they can prepare themselves.

  • Staff may also find it useful to encourage them to put their activity into a finished tray or the symbol for the activity into a finished box to signal the activity is over.

Mood changes

  • Staff may also find it useful to encourage him to put his activity into a finished tray or the symbol for the activity into a finished box to signal the activity is over.

  • Staff members may need to provide particular activities at these times to help improve mood, such as exercise, food, music, massage or a quiet place to retreat to.

  • If staff members find that the behaviour is occurring at key transition moments every day, they may need to think of activities that could be done to improve their mood at different parts of the day.

If you are having difficulties feel free to get in touch, or alternatively, contact the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104. Make sure you pop back next week as we tackle the all important issue of homework and the difficulty in getting some to do it…

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