Behavior is Communication

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Behavior is Communication

Understanding Confusing or Challenging Behaviors and Addressing Them with Behavior Support

Behavior Support


2020 has been a stressful year for all of us. Most of us have had bad days where we cannot communicate how we are feeling or even why we feel that way. Maybe our words have failed us or we are a little more irritable or withdrawn. Now, imagine if this was your everyday life. You want to communicate your thoughts and feelings but cannot do so in a way that anyone understands. This can be the reality for many people with an intellectual or developmental disability.

People with intellectual or developmental disabilities often are not able to share in a way that is understandable feelings that we take for granted like sadness, frustration, loneliness, or even anger. This can even extend to when a person is not feeling well but is unable to say that. An inability to communicate may lead to complex or challenging behaviors that are difficult for caregivers to understand. Behaviors might include things like withdrawal, angry outbursts, or avoidance of things they used to enjoy. Of course, everyone has bad or unhappy days, but some persistent or even unsafe behaviors may make it difficult for your loved one to have a job, attend a day program, or participate in other important aspects of an everyday life.

However, it is important for caregivers to understand that behavior is communication. Though it might not be clear at first glance, behaviors are often the only way for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to communicate their wants and needs. Sometimes, making sense of that communication just needs an interpreter:  that’s where Behavior Support Services comes in. A Behavior Support Specialist can be the help you need to achieve better understanding of your loved one. But how exactly can a Behavior Support Specialist help?

  • Identify the underlying causes of behavior. A Behavior Support Specialist will work with your loved one to identify and address the root causes of confusing or challenging behavior. We might talk with you about how long this behavior has been happening, what has happened recently in your loved one’s life, or what things have worked to support your loved one previously. Additionally, our team uses a trauma-informed approach. This means that our Behavior Support Specialists understand that people may have experienced past trauma (for example:  institutionalization, grief and loss, and other traumas), and that those experiences may inform their behavior in the present.
  • Create a behavior support plan for your loved one. Once initial assessments and evaluations are completed, the Behavior Support Specialist will work in conjunction with you, your loved one, and their support team to develop and implement a plan. As part of implementation, we may guide activities to reconcile concerns and support positive relationships, attend counseling and medical appointments with your loved one, and work with employers or other service providers to help them understand your loved one’s unique needs.
  • Revise the behavior support plan based on what’s working and what’s not working. Being flexible is a key part of the Behavior Support philosophy. As the Behavior Support Specialist works with your loved one, we may discover new strategies that help your loved one make progress, as well as identifying some strategies that do not work as well. No matter the setbacks or challenges, we’ll continue to provide service as long as is needed to ensure your loved one can live life to its fullest.

Skills of Central PA can provide Behavior Support Services to anyone who has a qualifying condition and waiver funding, whether your loved one is enrolled with services at Skills, another provider, or not yet receiving services. Often, families will tell our staff that they wished they had contacted Skills earlier to help with their loved one’s behavior. Others say they didn’t even realize that a loved one’s challenging behavior could be shifted in a positive direction after living with it for many years. It is never too late for your loved one to get the help they need!

Contact us today to learn more about Behavior Support Services for your loved one.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Managed By Cassus Media
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