EVIDENCE BASED PROTECTIVE INTERVENTIONS Call Us M - F 10:00am - 4:00pm +704.438.2945 P.O. Box 1455 Albemarle, NC 28002



Understanding Human Behavior
Forming Therapeutic Rapport
Constructing Solutions
Crisis Behavior Assessment
De‑escalating, Escalating Behavior


Key Point

1) When working with individuals with disabilities, it is important to remember all the different ways that we communicate effectively throughout our day. Our communication skills build and maintain relationships and help us meet our wants and needs.

Communicating Wants and Needs


Dialogue Takes Place With:

  • Verbal exchanges
  • Gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Notes passed back and forth
  • Technologically

By broadening our idea of effective communication from just "speech" to any means that appropriately, effectively and efficiently gets the desired message across we open up an array of modalities to try with these students. When we transition from a "must learn to speak" communication plan to a "must learn to communicate" plan, we often see frustration decrease, behaviors decrease, communication increase, and even verbal speech increase.

Key Point

2) Common barriers to effective communication are using jargon, taboos, lack of attention, interest, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver. Differences in perception and viewpoint, physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech difficulties or physical barriers to non–verbal communication.


Common Barriers to Effective Communication

  • The use of jargon
  • Emotional barriers and taboos
  • Lack of attention, interest, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver
  • Differences in perception and viewpoint
  • Physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech difficulties
  • Physical barriers to non–verbal communication

Key Point

3) Cultural differences, expectations and prejudices may lead to false assumptions or stereotyping.

More Common Barriers to Effective Communication

  • Language differences and the difficulty in understanding unfamiliar accents
  • Expectations and prejudices which may lead to false assumptions or stereotyping
  • Cultural differences

Key Point

4) Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the 'active listener' is also 'seen' to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.


Positive Interaction Strategies

  • Conversation is a Two–Way Street – The first and most important rule of conversation is that it is not all about you, but it's not all about the other person either
  • Active Listening – use both verbal and non–verbal messages: maintain eye contact; nod head; smile; saying 'Yes' or minimal encouragers to continue; Provide 'feedback'


Key Point

5) Body movements can be used to reinforce or emphasize what a person is saying and also offer information about the emotions and attitudes of a person.


Body Language/Body Movements

Body language, posture and distance provide important information to supplement words, or verbal communication. They are a crucial addition to the overall message. The full picture also includes facial expressions, eye contact and voice

  • Emblems – Gestures that serve the same function as a word
  • Illustrators – Gestures which accompany words to illustrate a verbal message are known as illustrators
  • Regulators – Gestures used to give feedback when conversing
  • Adaptors – Non–verbal behaviors which satisfy some physical need



  • Open and Closed Posture – An open posture can be used to communicate openness or interest in someone and a readiness to listen, whereas the closed posture might imply discomfort or disinterest
  • Mirroring – Postures will match, as if one person is a mirror reflection of the other. This 'mirroring' indicates interest and approval between people

Proxemic Every culture has different levels of physical closeness appropriate to different types of relationship, and individuals learn these distances from the society in which they grew up The study of personal space is called proxemics.

The Four Main Categories of Proxemics

  • Intimate Distance
  • Personal Distance
  • Social Distance
  • Public Distance

Key Point

6) A therapeutic relationship aims to achieve goals and solve problems on behalf of one of the people. Make sure that the environment is as safe as possible; Take the whole person into account and; Making sure the people involved have a say in their own goals.

Achieving a Therapeutic Relationship

  • Validation – provides positive assurance that their feelings, actions, and thoughts are appropriate per their unique situation and perspective
  • Normalizing – provides a broader, more objective context, suggesting that although the individual's situation seems exceptional–perhaps in a negative sense–such conditions are considered within the boundaries of normality, that many others have similar experiences.


Communicate Respect

  • Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
  • Person Centered Language – Employing person–first language does not mean that a person's disability is hidden or seen as irrelevant; however, it also is not be the sole focus of any description about that person.

Person Centered Language

  • The language used is neither stigmatizing nor objectifying
  • The language used also is empowering, avoiding the eliciting of pity or sympathy
  • Words such as "hope" and "recovery" are used frequently in documentation and delivery of services
  • Providers attempt to interpret perceived deficits within a strengths and resilience framework
  • Avoid using diagnostic labels as "catch–all" means of describing an individual

Strategies for Therapeutic Relationships

A therapeutic relationship aims to achieve goals and solve problems on behalf of one of the people

  • Make sure that the environment is as safe as possible. Make changes if someone has particular needs
  • Take the whole person into account. Remember, "people first" Everyone needs safety, privacy, respect and meaningful things to do
  • Help make and keep orderly routines. Make sure the people involved have a say in their own goals, objectives and what they need Social Relationships
  • Social relationships can begin in a variety of ways
  • We think of ourselves as free to select our friends at will based on personal preferences
  • In casual relations with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, you are free to conduct yourself any way you see fit
  • Social relationships may end in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons