Behaviour. Behaviour support. Behavioural challenges. ABA, Positive Behaviour Support… These are MORE loaded terms and concepts (following on from last week’s email where I talked about ‘social skills’).
In the quest to work out whether a behaviour change that we’re asking of Neurodivergent children is aligned with a Neurodiversity Affirming Approach or not, the biggest question you need to answer is:
WHY is this behaviour change needed or expected?
If you first question why we’re seeking to change a child’s behaviour, you may truly be able to justify putting strategies in place to support a behaviour change. And it’s sometimes valid and appropriate to do so. Sometimes not.
Some more points to consider:
Who will the behaviour change benefit? If it will truly benefit the child, maybe it’s an OK behaviour to shift. If it’s to benefit others around the child (especially if it’s to make them simply feel ‘more comfortable’ but at the detriment of the child) then it may not be valid.
Are the reasons behind the behaviour change ableist, and seeking to change a child to appear more neurotypical? This is a terrible reason to change behaviour, not valid. Nope. *unless* them appearing different/neurodivergent could lead to safety issues (see below).
Will the behaviour change support a non-negotiable safety goal? This could be safety for themself, safety for others, or a wellbeing goal that is non-negotiable. Like stopping a child from running into traffic, some form of dental care, or helping them find alternative ways to express displeasure in another person’s actions apart from biting that person. These are valid reasons to support a change in behaviour.
So before we take a giant brush and paint a huge red X over all forms of behaviour change, remember that this is very nuanced… like all this about humans really! Want to keep learning with me? Happy to help!
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