Understanding Behavior as Communication...
Behavior is a Complex Form of Nonverbal Communication
It is a common thing to hear the phrase "behavior is communication" in the autism community. What that means, what that looks, sounds and even feels like, is much more complex than the scope that this page will be able to cover. However, there are loads of resources for you if you want to learn more about the complex dynamics of human behavior outside the context of ASD. For the purposes of keeping things simple, we will briefly highlight some of the ways ASD deficits can manifest as behaviors and how to deal with them.
Responding Appropriately to Behavior...
Managing Behavior is All about How YOU Respond...
Behavior modification isn't about controlling the behavior of others.
When it comes to "managing" the difficult or undesirable behavior of another, we walk a fine line between attempting to control the actions of another and guiding their behavior in a different direction. How do we guide someone else's behavior? We use our own behavior as a means of facilitating behavioral change. We guide someone in modifying their behavior by modeling behavior that demonstrates we are able to manage our emotions and, thus, our actions in a challenging situation. It is in repeatedly observing our actions that model competency that teaches the less-skilled individual how to successfully manage his or her own emotional response to a stimulus. By teaching someone how to successfully and skillfully utilize their own inner resources, we are able to facilitate lasting change.
The best way to learn how to facilitate change in others is to first facilitate change within ourselves.
How do we react under pressure? At what times do we feel most challenged? To what degree do we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the stresses of life? What situations cause us to feel incompetent or unable to control our emotions? How do we self-soothe to get back to our baseline level of functioning? What works for us and what doesn't?
Understanding what triggers us to react and behave a certain way is the only way to successfully model a desired behavior for someone else. Being non-reactive is not a natural state for most of us; we must consciously focus on maintaining and regulating our own emotional response to external circumstances and this must be practiced. By managing our own emotional and physiological responses to the behavior of another, we are able to embody a sense of stability, consistency and confidence that is much needed when someone else is exhibiting challenging behaviors.
Control thyself; That is the fundamental component of behavioral modification. 🙂