Building bridges for autistic children"The child isn't intentionally MAKING it hard for us - he's HURTING it hard right now!" Prof. Stuart Shanker

Reinterpret behavior

  • Are you concerned about challenging behaviors such as yelling, running away, aggression toward self or others, or inappropriate behavior?
  • Do you wish someone could show you how to help your child behave differently and learn more compatible manners?
  • Are you looking for alternatives to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) based on a play-based developmental approach?

Challenging behaviors are never just a problem 'in the child', but always an interpersonal problem. Very often, it is even the adult who has the problem. Because the child often does not perceive his behavior as a problem at all, but as a kind of attempted solution. It does not understand what our problem is. THIS is our problem! Most of the time, verbal explanations do not help the child understand our problem better, but only make the situation worse. Above all, if the child does not understand understanding, it requires quite different, and non-verbal reactions from us and in the environment. 


The same behavior can have different meanings

The same behavior often has very different reasons and meanings. Yelling can be an expression of desperation or fear, because the child feels misunderstood or overwhelmed, needs help or recognition, or simply because it is fun and then the adults start yelling every time too (which may be funny from the child's point of view). Hitting can be an expression of anger and self-defense, or defensive, or an invitation to play a game, or because the child likes the sensory body sensation and can feel himself better that way.

When faced with challenging behaviors, we can become stress detectives to discover the reasons and meanings, and then get creative to remove possible obstacles and stressors or better manage the situation. If we want to bring about lasting change and not just scratch the surface, thengenuine relational interest in feelings and a reflective attitude are indispensable as basic requirements.

Behavior is always a communication

The root of all difficult behaviors can be found in underlying difficult feelings that want to be understood. Because behavior is a form of non-verbal communication, and communication is always emotional. Only when we respond appropriately to the emotional situation and perceive it in its complexity can something new develop and change. A child cannot do this alone. It needs our empathetic support to develop its abilities to self-regulate and deal with feelings.

Autistic Children Building BridgesIyour child doesn't want to annoy you. It just takes care of itself.


When you see one child differently, you see another child

Building bridges for autistic children "New perspectives are finally opening up"

"With our son, sooo many people and therapies have failed, it really is a huge challenge in every way and for everyone involved. He was in behavioral therapy for years with unfortunately no visible success. We had already almost given up all hope. Now we are so happy that finally someone really listens to us and works with us to see the entrenched situation from a new perspective in a relationship-oriented way, so that sustainable changes can finally happen. Since we started working with you, we see Walter with completely different eyes. And that alone has already changed a lot. We wish it would go faster. But we now understand how much patience, perseverance, flexibility and inner emotional work on ourselves is necessary for such profound behavioral changes. Please don't let us down until we have firmer ground under our feet!"

Parents of Walter (13 years)

When HIS storm strikes OUR calm, then finds Co-Regulation instead of

Self-regulation develops through co-regulation

For this purpose the adult must

  1. Learning to recognize the signs that the child is stressed
  2. Identify the stressors
  3. Reduce the stressors
  4. Helping the child to recognize and distinguish between what it feels like to be balanced and what it feels like to be agitated.
  5. Help the child find strategies to return to a balanced calm state when stressed

Infographics on this page by Kristin Wiens of North Star Paths