Lift-Off: January 2024 Newsletter!

Lift-Off: January 2024 Newsletter

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The Communication-Behaviour Connection: Identifying Needs, Developing Communication

 Witnessing your child face difficulties is never easy, especially when they show behaviour of concern that could harm themselves or others. The ripple effect of these behaviours on your child’s development and family harmony is profound. 


A Compassionate Approach to Behaviour


At TMB, we take a compassionate approach to behaviour therapy designed to support your child through these challenges. It’s a journey that involves understanding the why underneath the behaviour of concern. In this model, behaviour is how your child communicates an unmet need. An unmet need might be biological (e.g. hunger) or it might be emotional (e.g. feeling anxious or bored). Behaviour therapy starts by identifying this unmet need and teaching your child how to communicate to have it met. How does behaviour therapy work?  To understand how behaviour therapy works, we need to first explore why behaviours of concern might develop. It’s difficult to make a blanket statement about this. No two children, nor two behaviours are alike. However, we can say that behaviours of concern develop due to a complex interaction of internal and external factors. Once we have uncovered the reasons for the behaviour of concern through careful assessment, we can pinpoint which of these factors can be addressed through adjustment and/or skill building. 


Environmental Approaches to Behaviour


It is possible to make a very positive impact on behaviours of concern and quality of life by simply making environmental adjustments. For example, if we know that a child finds it difficult to go into crowded environments and that this has led to dangerous behaviour in the past, we can simply avoid going into crowded noisy environments. In other words, we simply avoid the trigger of behaviour. However, avoiding triggers has its limitations.


Limitations of Avoiding Behaviour Triggers

Avoiding is feasible if the trigger is easy to isolate. Not all triggers are. Also, by the very nature of avoiding situations that trigger behaviour, we risk that person’s world of experiences becoming smaller and smaller. Similarly, if we know that behaviour occurs when a child is bored, unoccupied or understimulated, we can enrich their world with things they like, ensuring a variety of engaging experiences that honour their preferences and bring them joy. Here we are making their world bigger, however, there is the problem of generality. We may be able to enrich the home by providing sensory toys and experiences, but we may not be able to do so at school or in other environments. [Click below to read the rest of this article]

Image: Child wearing white t shirt and jeans, sitting on the floor with head buried in his arms and legs. The mood of the photo is lonely and conveys that the child is feeling disconnected and may be at risk for behaviour of concern.

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