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Autism and the role of the adult during a crisis

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

In a previous post we mentioned possible triggers for behaviours that challenge.

You will find more information here.

Often, when behaviours that challenge occur, all the adults have the tendency to get involved at the same time in order to help and defuse the situation.

In order to manage the situation , we should remember the following:

1. One adult/ one "voice" is dealing with the student and their behaviour.

Often, when a crisis occurs, all adults who are present have the tendency to get involved , thinking that this is the best way they can help with resolving the incident faster. However, in this case we often get the opposite results, as it can cause more confusion and tension to the student.

It is important that only one voice is being heard, the voice of the adult who is supporting the student and managing the incident.

2. One adult is making the decisions.

The other adults in the room need to follow the instructions.

They may need to remove the rest of the students from the classroom.

They may need to remove items from the room or bring items, such as a glass of water, the ipad.

They may need to switch places with the adult who is supporting the student.

In any case, it is very important one voice to be heard, the voice that makes the decisions.

3. Avoid many and complex instructions.

During the time of a crisis , the student's ability to process a lot of information is reduced further. We need to focus on the desired instruction and use vocabulary that the student understands, e.g. water, you are safe, it's over.

4. Complete an ABC Form.

In order to understand better what caused and what eventually helped the student to calm down, it is important that the adult who dealt with the behaviour completes the ABC form. More information about the ABC form can be found here.

5. Remain calm.

It is important to remember to remain calm.

Whatever triggered the behaviour , it is important to focus on the de-escalation of the behaviour and the safety of ourselves and the student.

It is important to remember that the behaviour is not targeting us personally. The student is in distress and struggles to identify an appropriate way to express how and why they feel this way.

After the crisis and only when both, we and the student are ready, we need to reflect on what happened and what actions we can take to avoid happening again.


We will share more tips and activities in the future, so keep visiting us.

We are looking forward to hearing your views and experiences. You can email us at

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