Do you remember Garanimals?  Garanimals is a children’s clothing line designed to be mixed and matched.  Garanimals tags tell what outfits coordinate by matching the animals on the tags – as an example, all the giraffes go together and all the tigers go together to make up children’s outfits.  This innovative technique relieves the burden of having to tell what matches for both kids and families.

Families affected in some way by developmental disabilities are often overwhelmed attempting to navigate the complex systems designed to “help”.  It’s often difficult to determine what “goes together”. Marvelous resources for disabled individuals are present but accessing them sometimes requires time, energy and expertise. At Bridges, we have intentionally designed our services to be a comprehensive one stop shop.  No matter what service you pick for your family, we can design a plan that effortlessly matches like Garanimals!

Therapy services is one of the cornerstones of the Bridges’ programming. While Bridges of Indiana offers cutting edge music, behavior and recreation therapy, today we are going to discuss Behavior Services and how it can make a difference in the lives of your loved one.  Behavior Services are not magic wand nor are they not a pill to cure all.

What are Behavior Services and how do we administer them?  Behavior Services, in general, refers to the techniques utilized to try and increase or decrease a particular type of behavior or reaction. While this may seem technical, it’s really the development of skills at the root of Behavior Services.

We always need to remember that all behavior has three common concepts:

  • It is learned.

We all exhibit behavior for a reason. It works for us. Whether it’s appropriate or not, if it works and serves it’s purpose; we will keep doing it.

  • It is communication.

Some individuals have difficulty expressing themselves. Maybe they cannot use their words in times of angst or maybe they possess limited expressive language skills. Either way, we should always ask ourselves “What is this individual trying to say with their behavior?”  What we perceive as self-injurious actions, or physical or verbal aggression is often just an attempt at communication.

  • There is always a function.

Individuals may exhibit maladaptive behaviors to escape a situation, to get access to a situation or to get attention (negative or positive). They may find the behavior intrinsically rewarding (this often happens with sensory issues) or they may be exhibiting pain. These functions of the behavior can be strong motivating factors in how we act. The trick is to find a more positive behavior that performs that same function.

The starting point with Behavior Services is always the purpose or function. It’s the “why”. We have to find out the “why” before we can begin to design a customized behavior plan designed with strategies to teach the individual to replace that negative, maladaptive behavior with a more positive one. It may take some time and energy to build those skills but with consistency and follow through, it will happen!

Our strength-based therapists have specialized expertise that enables them to meet the needs of all individuals. One of the ways we do that is through technology. In the past, most therapists used social stories to illustrate points.  So, a page of a social story about brushing your teeth might have looked something like this:

 

A social story gets the point across but is not that exciting.  But now…. we use apps to illustrate this.  Apps can help us write our own social stories AND video our clients so that they are actually IN the story. In other words, the individual is watching himself/herself modeling the very behavior we are trying to achieve.  In the image below, the individual is starring in his own social story about brushing his teeth!  That is exciting stuff!  And it works!

 

The guiding principles of the Bridges’ Behavior Therapists are that each individual served should always feel safe and supported and be given the opportunity to live a healthy life filled with choice, purpose, happiness and dignity.

Stay tuned here for more information about what the behavior therapists at Bridges of Indiana are doing.

For more information about Bridges’ services and supports, please see us at bridges.us or bridgesautismtherapies.com. Also, you can contact  steveboyer@bridges.us  for immediate answers to your questions.

 

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