Back to top

Even with the best behaviour support plans in place, there may be times when a person’s behaviour escalates. There are ways to help a person in crisis, while still maintaining personal safety as a priority. 

It may be possible to prevent a crisis after a person’s behaviour has started to escalate. However, when a crisis develops, personal safety takes priority over everything else. Ensure you have a crisis management plan that includes: 

  • when to disengage from an escalating situation 
  • making sure your exits are always unobstructed 
  • prior removal of any items that could be used as a weapon. 

As behaviour starts to escalate, continue to work at understanding the triggers and purpose of the behaviour. It may still be possible to prevent a crisis with: 

  • a calm even tone of voice and reassurance 
  • active listening and expressing empathy 
  • simple, clear directions about what is required. 

Tone of voice is very important. It is normal to feel adrenalin and speak in a higher pitch during a crisis situation, even if the intention is to defuse the situation. Being aware of this and deliberately speaking quietly in a normal tone can make a big difference. 

Try to identify the message behind the behaviour. You might be able to avert a crisis if you can find the trigger and deal with it directly. A positive behaviour support plan should include how to respond to each possible crisis situation. Typical strategies during the escalation phase include: 

  • promoting coping skills 
  • breathing exercises 
  • redirection (distraction) 
  • stimulus change 
  • ‘help me’ requests 
  • introducing humour (this can be a difficult technique and should only be used by a familiar person) 
  • exiting the troubling environment. 

Once the crisis is over, it can be helpful to talk about the situation with a family member or professional counselor, particularly if it is a regular occurrence. It is important for carers to look after themselves and ensure they are well supported.