Studio 3 North America
Studio 3 Arrives in Canada
Studio 3 UK has partnered with Autism Awareness Centre Inc. (AACI) to begin offering Low Arousal Approach training to Canadians. AACI has been organizing conferences and workshops across Canada for 11 years; introducing the Low Arousal Approach was a natural evolution in training for the Centre.
AACI has been receiving requests for new and innovative ways to manage challenging behavior. Since the launch of Studio 3 Canada in Spring 2015, requests for information about training have been coming in weekly. There is a great deal of interest and excitement in this approach which is new for Canadians.
Studio 3 Canada ran their first 3 day course July 30th – August 1st 2015 at the Horizon School in Olds, Alberta. Horizon is a special needs school catering to students ages 4 – 20. Principal Heather Linski was looking for a new way to address the challenging behavior of some of her students and the Low Arousal Approach was a perfect solution.
UK trainer Kit Howe made his first trip to Canada and spent 5 days with the Horizon team. The staff worked well together and spoke openly, asked excellent questions, and gave it their all when working on the physical skills section. There were many “light bulb” moments and a shift in attitude as the days went on. The environment was one of nurturing, caring and respect for students and staff. Kit worked well with the group, creating a relaxed and safe atmosphere in which to practice new skills. We will continue to support Horizon School with their growth and quest for positive change.
Studio 3 Canada organized an Eastern Canada tour September 16 – 22nd for UK Director Dr. Andrew McDonnell and Swedish trainer Bo Elvén. The pair began their trip in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital city, and spoke to a large group of educators from various schools and post-secondary institutions. Their talk was very well received and the interest was high for training.
Next was a 4 day stop in Sydney, Nova Scotia in the Maritimes. Andrew and Bo delivered a 3 day training for the Breton Ability Centre (BAC) which serves individuals who are coping with complex challenges. They also gave a two hour evening talk for the larger community to introduce people to the Low Arousal Approach concepts. BAC’s director, Harman Singh, is eager to implement this new knowledge and she sees changes in the near future that will enhance the quality of life for her service users.
The last stop of the tour was Toronto, ON for a talk to the York ASD Partnership. The York ASD Partnership was formed to improve the current system of supports for people with an ASD and their families in York Region. While many services exist in York Region, access and coordination is confusing and frustrating for families. A variety of representatives from various organizations came to listen to the Low Arousal Approach overview. Andrew McDonnell captivated the participants and they are already buzzing about adopting the training in Ontario.
Studio 3 Canada is off to a strong start and the word is spreading. Autism Awareness Centre’s motto is “Believe in Change” and we believe it will happen in a positive way through this collaboration with Studio 3 UK.
By Maureen Bennie
Director, Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
What about the future?
Maureen Bennie, Director Autism Awareness Centre Inc. interviewed Andy McDonnell about his own thoughts about the training course and the situation we face in Canada.
Maureen: Do you think the training is needed in Canada?
Andy: That is a most definite yes. The experiences of course participants identified the same issues that we face across the EU and the rest of the world. Many people genuinely felt that their existing training did not equip them to deal with day to day classroom situations or even understand the stress response.
Maureen: What is the low arousal Why is the low arousal approach so different?
Andy: The low arousal approach is a behaviour management philosophy. It was originally developed in the 1980s and 1990 in the UK. Since this time the approach has become popular with autism and disabilities services in the UK and Europe. The low arousal approach emphasises a range of behaviour management strategies that focus on:
(a) the reduction of physiological arousal and manipulation of antecedent triggers
(b) the prevention of aggression and other challenging behaviours
(c) crisis strategies which avoid punitive consequences and seek low intensity solutions.
d) A reflective approach to behaviour management where people are encouraged to reflect on their own contribution to behavioural incidents.
In addition, the approach also seeks to understand the role of sensory factors in the onset and maintenance of challenging behaviours especially in people with ASD (ADHD etc)
Maureen: What is the best way to learn about the approach?
Andy: Our training is so different from standard programmes in the field that we often recommend that people experience the full core 3 day training.
Maureen: How can somebody train as a trainer?
Andy: There are two issues with this first people who have experienced a full 3 day training course in the management of challenging behaviours have an advantage. Second our trainers programme is longer. In education it is 12 days in duration (3×4 day teaching blocks). We usually do them over weekends to reduce time away from pupils in education I should also stress that people are not guaranteed to pass these programmes.