Snowy Valleys School

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Since behaviour is often a form of communication, many students with autism voice their wants, needs or concerns through behaviours, rather than words.

Challenging behaviours are more likely to appear when a student is feeling unhappy or unwell. Medical concerns, mental health issues, or sensory responses that we cannot see might bring pain or discomfort to a student with autism that we might not understand, especially when the student is unable to say so.

We classify certain behaviours as challenging because we as individuals find them difficult to accept. You will need to become an observer, to understand the purpose of student's behaviours.

Taking a step back and considering why a student might behave in a certain way is the first step toward understanding, learning how to assist the student and spotting the things that trigger the behaviour.

Children with autism spectrum disorder might exhibit the following behaviours:

  • refuse or ignore requests
  • behave in a socially in appropriate manner 
  • have tantrums
  • act in an aggressive manner to others
  • engage in self-stimulatory behaviour, such as flicking or hand biting.

Triggers could be:

  • difficulty understanding the social world around them which results in them becoming frustrated
  • not being able to communicate effectively
  • anxiety
  • changes to routines
  • transition from one setting or subject/activity to another
  • sensory sensitivities or overload
  • fatigue or sleep problems
  • teacher's expectations.

To learn more about positive behaviour support (PBS), watch this YouTube video.

Understanding autism

When your child is having a meltdown:

  • don't talk
  • don't try to reason
  • don't get angry
  • your child can't hear you
  • just be silent and loving until the storm passes.