This zone represents the early warning signs that indicate that the learner may be moving away from a calm/regulated/happy space. It also considers the triggers and setting events that lead to the occurrence of the early warning signs and subsequent behaviours that challenge.
- Identify the triggers. These are the events that are most likely to ‘switch on’ the behaviours that challenge.
- Identify the setting events. These are internal states such as being hungry, tired, bored, or prior events that may impact on the learner’s coping when triggers are present.
- Identify the early warning signs that indicate that an escalation to behaviours that challenge is likely by considering the following;
- What is the first sign that indicates the learner is moving away from the green zone?
- Consider discrete signs, take a step back and observe.
- Discuss the subsequent steps – it may be helpful to role play this.
- Consider tone of voice and body posture of the learner and those supporting.
- Do those supporting ask lots of questions/place demands/talk a lot?
The red zone is where the behaviours that challenge occur.
What does this look like to you, but also what does this look like from the learner’s perspective? Is there lots of talking from those supporting? Too many choices? Are they having physical restraint used or other restrictive practice? Do others come to support?
Could this be helping or maintaining the behaviour – thinking back to the functions of behaviour? Remember though, having a second person is needed for safeguarding, monitoring safety, and also to support the staff member supporting at that time.
This is where the learner may be beginning to regulate and/or calm.
What are the first signs that indicate this move away from the red zone, then what subsequent signs are there? What does the environment look like that contributes to this? How are those supporting feeling?
Stage 3: Behaviour Cycle; the strategies
Once we’ve made our observations, it’s time to start working on strategies to support our learners. These must be based upon an understanding of what needs are being communicated through the behaviours, and be person-centred!
Green zone = Proactive strategies
These are the strategies that maintain a regulated, calm and happy space, that meet the learner’s needs, and prevent escalation.
Some examples that may be considered are below;
- Establish a key adult to build rapport and facilitate regular check-ins
- Engage in the learners’ interests
- Consider attention levels; are they able to access and build positive relationships, and if so, how frequently?
- Social skill building; do the learners need support with peer interaction and understanding around how non-autistic peers interact?
- Identify calming strategies, which should be built into routine e.g., sensory diet
- Teach alternative skills e.g., to ask for a break when needed – designated safe space
Yellow zone = Active strategies
By observing the triggers of changes in zones we can implement active strategies when early warning signs are observed.
Some examples may include;
- Redirection to other activities, or positive behaviours
- Engaging in interests
- Low arousal approaches; reduce demands, monitor tone of voice/body posture to model ‘calm’, consider sensory input
- Going through regulation activities/alternative communication
- Validate and empathise
- Using clear, reduced language
Red zone = Reactive strategies
The aim of reactive strategies are to keep the learner and others safe.
Strategies to consider here may include:
- Giving space
- Reducing language; using scripts to ensure language is consistent across all supporting
- Scanning the environment for any potential risks
- Seeking support for yourself and others if needed
Blue zone = Post-reactive strategies
Post-reactive strategies should be put in place to support regulation following an behaviours that challenge, with sensitive management.
Strategies to consider here may include:
- Self-check-in, are you ready to re-engage even if the learner is?
- Re-engaging but keep language to a minimum
- Restoring relationship – engage in interests
- Gradually reintroducing the routine/visual supports and choice
- Regulation tools
- Avoid talking about the red zone here, it is unlikely that the learner is ready for any reflection.