Improving lives one story at a time
oseph became a consumer with the SAILS Group and had two separate 3-month stays with us. When we visited Joseph’s home to discuss his behavioral and lifestyle needs with his family, it was very clear that his single father and younger brothers were in desperate need of help. Their goal of having Joseph live a more normal lifestyle with as few behavioral roadblocks as possible was nowhere in sight. While wanting to ensure that one day Joseph would be able to return to the family environment without the presence of harmful behavior to himself or other family members, they realized that to meet this goal, they would need professional help.
Joseph exhibited the following behavioral difficulties; physical aggression towards himself and others, which included but was not limited to, hitting with his fists, scratching with his nails, biting and kicking. He also had little to no awareness of hazards posed to him by the outside world, and he would spend the majority of his days verbally stemming, which would present itself in the form of random, loud and disruptive nonsensical verbalizations. Due to these maladaptive behaviors that Joseph exhibited on a daily basis, it made school and home life very difficult for him and those around him.
Joseph also needed direct hand over hand assistance with daily living needs such as, hygiene, dressing, and eating.
Through direct observations, while Joseph was a consumer in our facility we were able to deduce that a large portion of his behavioral episodes was a result of him not being able to properly communicate his needs. So in order to compensate for the lack of communication, he would act out aggressively in hopes that someone would give him what he wanted. We found that by using tools such as the PECS system, we were able to help Joseph with communicating to others his needs, such as change of activities, food, and hygiene requests. Once this system was in place, we found that a lot of behaviors were almost cut in half after a period of 2 months, and we were able to get him into a routine that was predictable and less stressful for him because he knew what to expect on a daily basis.
The name of the consumer has been altered to maintain the privacy of the consumer and his family.
By using our SAILS ABA + approach while Joseph was with us, we were also able to find out what were the majority of triggers for his behaviors, and were able to head a lot of those behaviors off at the first sign so that they would not escalate to crisis levels. Based on reports from his school, we also found that with the structure provided along with a means of communication, he was having smoother days at school in which he was able to participate in activities and in the learning environment as well. Joseph still had behavioral issues every now and then at school but they were fewer and less intense compared to before he was in our facility. Making it possible for him to enjoy and flourish at school.
We have developed and refined the strategies and approaches that cause positive behavioral change with the individuals we serve.
Also, while in the facility, we were able to provide the necessary skills training in the areas of hygiene, dressing, and eating, which was made possible after we were able to bridge the gap where communication was concerned. We found that Joseph responded well to instruction in these areas, and we were able to teach him how to sit at the dinner table quietly, eat with utensils and using his PECS when he needed second helpings or anything else to do with the meal at any given time. Joseph was able to move from needing direct hand over hand prompting to completing his hygiene and dressing with just verbal prompting.
Once we felt that Joseph’s behavioral problems were more manageable and he was able to return to the home environment, we provided his family with transitional staff where we sent staff members that worked well with Joseph while he was in our facility to his home to help train others in the household on how to approach Joseph while he was in the process of having a behavior and how to assist him with deescalating before reaching crisis levels. Our staff reported that the family was very receptive to learning new techniques to approaching Joseph, which in turn allowed for the family as a whole to lead a more normal lifestyle.
Joseph continued to have behavioral episodes every now and then after his stay in our facility, but they were substantially fewer than when he was first admitted. The family felt much safer now that they were given the proper tools on how to handle Joseph’s behaviors when they presented themselves.
Like most children and adults with Autism, we find that a lot of the times there is simply a breakdown in communication, especially with those individuals who are non-verbal, and the only way they are able to communicate is through their maladaptive behaviors. If we are able to find a way to help these individuals with finding a safe and healthy way to communicate their needs, then a lot of the behavioral difficulties that they present have a tendency to fall by the way side. Not to mention the fact that many individuals with developmental disabilities seem to strive on structure and if their families are unable to provide this structure in the home environment then a group home setting such as ours is a positive opportunity, and some form of rehabilitation so that the individual can return home and hopefully live a more normal lifestyle surrounded by the people they love.
There is currently no cure for Autism but there are many tools that can be used to help individuals afflicted manage their behavioral outbursts, and learn new positive replacement behaviors in order for them to continue to grow and thrive.