Book Review: Ten rules for ensuring people with learning disabilities …

…and those who are on the autism spectrum develop challenging behaviour and maybe what to do about it?

Damian Milton, Richard Mills and Simon Jones

Published by Pavilion

What is that person thinking?  What am I doing that could be making the situation worse ?

I have spent my career training and getting supporters reflect on their own practice.  This reflective practice approach is a cornerstone of the low arousal approach to behaviour management (Heilskov Elven, 2010, McDonnell, 2010, Woodcock and Page 2010, to ‘see the person and stop Focussing on behaviours’. Understanding autism and so called behaviours of concern from the perspective of the person with autism is a challenging concept. Professionals often focus too much on what can only be described as ‘neurotypical analysis’. I was asked to review this book and I am truly honoured to to provide a review.

The first part of the book outlines a very personal perspective of one of the authors 11 rules which range from rule 1

‘If you don’t understand me, call me complex’

When reading this I realised that I have a tendency to do this. In my day job I routinely apply this rule far too much. So, this did help me reflect. In fact it occurred to me that the first rule is like a horrible logical syllogism

Tom is

Tom has Autism

Tom is complex

After reading the positive practice examples I hear myself saying I will do better!

Rule 10

‘Expose me to things you know will stress me out’

In a well intentioned manner we inadvertently expose people to stressors and try to rationalise that it may be of benefit to the individual. Sometimes this reflects a Nietschean approach to behaviour management. It reminds me that stress reduction is the Sine Qua Non of good behaviour management.

Wonderfully the authors include an 11th rule which focusses on not keeping promises, stating that people often do this in practice therefore 10 rules are mentioned but in reality there are 11.

If I have a small criticism and I say this with some trepidation, I would include even more reflective exercises in the further explanations section of the book. Any person reading this book will definitely recognise their own good and bad practice. I would suggest that people strongly think of individuals and reflect on their learning. Most importantly what rules do I break and what am I going to do to stop myself breaking them in the future?

There are many autobiographical accounts of people with autism which help to provide a perspective on the everyday ‘chaos’ ( Vermeulen, 2012). This focus will undoubtedly help supporters reflect on how simple it is to break everyday rules. This book is a must read for supporters of all kinds but, especially families and all professionals. In my opinion it helps to provide a personal and practical approach. I have already recommended it to all Studio3 trainers around the globe. This will be a cornerstone of our training in the future. It should be a focus for training in all organisations



Chan, J., Arnold, S., Webber, L., Riches, V., Parmenter, T. and Stancliffe, R. (2012). Is it time to drop the term ‘challenging behaviour’? Learning Disability Practice, 15(5), 36-38

Heilskov Elven B (2010). No fighting, no biting, no screaming: How to make behaving positively possible for people with autism and other developmental disorders. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

McDonnell, A.A. (2010). Managing aggressive behaviour in care settings: Understanding and applying low arousal approaches Oxford: Wiley Publications.

Vermeulen, P (2012). Autism as context blindness. EDS publications

Woodcock, L and Page A (2010) Managing Family Meltdown. Jessica Kingsley.

Andrew McDonnell, PhD.

October 2016