(Continued from Part 1 of Trauma-informed behavior analysis series by Dr. Teresa Camille Kolu, Ph.D., BCBA-D)
Part 2, Engineering Supportive Environments
On arranging the environment
What does it mean to arrange the environment in a preventative way? This means to think about everything someone needs, and how they get it or communicate that they need it. After we consider this piece, we see holes in the behavioral environment.
If these holes go unfilled, the person will likely do whatever they need to do to fill them, often in a way that is ultimately unproductive and painful for themselves or others.
In a way, everyone is doing the best they can, all the time.
So in considering what someone needs in advance, we can find ways to plug in something helpful where it is needed, in a preventative way. This means that before someone needs something, an observant caregiver or friend may recognize the need is coming, and begin to set up the surroundings so that need is being filled. Before someone falls in the well, we fill up the well with concrete and make it so that they cannot fall in — even if they step right on top of it. For example 1 in Part 1, the client who was left alone in the dark is given preventative repertoire building, and taught skills that help her to cope each night with the coming darkness. Her caregivers are taught new repertoires, learning to announce their presence and ask her permission before entering; to problem solve with her instead of forcing the next event on her; and to check in in a preventative way to see if she needs anything, instead of responding with force when something is already going wrong. Eventually, she learns to ask for help before it gets to a crisis, to soothe herself to sleep instead of showing agitation leading to support going to bed, and to problem solve by herself when about to face a known triggering event. Continue reading