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NEW: Family Training in Low Arousal Approaches

Training in implementing Low Arousal Approaches at home for families and organisations working collaboratively with families now available online!

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.

Stress ball being squeezed - Low arousal training

There are four key components considered central to low arousal approaches, and those include both cognitive and behavioural elements:

  1. Decreasing staff demands and requests to reduce potential points of conflict around an individual.

  2. Avoiding potentially arousing triggers, such as direct eye contact, touch, and removal of spectators to the incident.

  3. Avoidance of non-verbal behaviours that may lead to conflict, such as aggressive postures and stances.

  4. Challenging staff beliefs about the short-term management of challenging behaviours.

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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'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.'

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. 

Managing behaviours to de-escalate crisis situatons


"[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.

A framework for managing children and adults


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

Understanding how our actions contribute to stressful situations


Studio 3 are the originators of the Low Arousal Approach:

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Low Arousal Training Options

Low Arousal Training is now available online every week at both Introductory and Advanced levels for individuals and organisations, professionals and family members. Our online course has been facilitated to help any aspiring Low Arousal Practitioner understand the humanistic philosophy behind the approach, as well as how to apply it in practice to support individuals with a range of needs. There is a focus on crisis management, understanding distressed behaviour, and working to proactively reduce stress and increase well-being. 

Introductory Low Arousal Training runs every Friday, with morning and afternoon sessions to suit need. Advanced Low Arousal Training is led in small groups with interactive elements. All training is hosted online via Zoom. 

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To discuss bespoke Low Arousal Approach training packages for your organisation or service, contact

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