What is the Low Arousal Approach?

A concept devised by Professor Andrew McDonnell, the low arousal approach is a crisis management strategy which encourages stress reduction and de-escalation. 

The low arousal approach enables professionals, carers and family members to deal and manage challenging behaviours. The approach empowers the individual or team to focus on the ‘person’ in the situation, identify causes and use proven low arousal skills to reduce the aggression. This approach acknowledges that stress is an ever present part of the lives of people with autism, and asks how we can best manage crisis situations where the individuals we support may be experiencing ‘meltdown’. 

We are the only organisation that officially runs specialist training courses in the Low Arousal Approach.

Low arousal approaches are so much more than a collection of behaviour management techniques. Low arousal is a philosophical approach to supporting stressed individuals.

'Both under and over arousal (hypo and hyper) can lead to information processing problems. I think when we consider the importance of arousal in emotional and behavioural regulation, it is necessary to understand that the 'internal world' of the person does impact on their day to day behaviour. Just imagine driving a car that is stuck in one gear, or varies from time to time on which gear works. Self-regulation requires an understanding of a person's internal, emotional state, and relating that to behaviour control.'

The Low Arousal Approach emphasises a range of behaviour management strategies that focus on the reduction of stress, fear and frustration. These strategies are put in place in order to prevent aggression and avoid creating crisis situations. The low arousal approach seeks to understand the role of the ‘situation’ on behaviour by identifying triggers and using low intensity solutions to avoid punitive consequences for individuals with additional needs.

The low arousal approach has been proven to enable practitioners to defuse crisis situations within a variety of settings through early identification and intervention. 

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In our experience, the pressures in care environments make the occurrence of verbal aggression, threatening behaviours and even physical aggression a familiar situation. Training in low arousal can help to de-escalate situations, and prevent them from becoming crisis situations. 

Carers

"[The low arousal approach]  questions all our assumptions and examines our values and beliefs, and forces us to look inward and take control of the way we react and respond to distressed behaviour.”

- Linda Woodcock and Andrea Page.

Families

“People with challenging behaviour often have trouble regulating affect. They often react to others’s affects by experiencing and expressing the same effect."  - Bo HejlskovElvén

Professionals

We are the originators of the low arousal approach:

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Minerva Mill Innovation Centre

Station Road

Alcester

B49 5ET