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Intervening During the Escalation Cycle (page 2)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jan 19, 2011

Stage Four

If you are unable to or unsuccessful in your attempt to intervene early or move the student to the deescalation stage and find yourself in a situation where the student is truly endangering himself or others in the environment, your only goal now is to make sure that everyone remains safe and that the student in crisis is provided as much dignity and privacy as possible. When prevention and interventions are not sufficiently effective and a student is endangering himself or others, two ways to maintain safety are physical restraint and the use of seclusion. These topics are extremely controversial and are discussed in great detail in the next chapter.

Stage Five

During this stage, it is important to be supportive and allow the student time to truly reach recovery, or he may reescalate. Allowing him to get a drink, have a snack, or engage in a preferred calming activity for a short time and giving him encouragement is reinforcing not inappropriate behavior but rather appropriate calming-down behavior. The main goal during this stage is to ensure that the crisis has truly passed and that the student will be able to remain rational and engage in the problem-solving process. A good analogy is if someone ran a red light and was in a car accident that resulted in critical injuries. Would you lecture the driver while he was in the hospital immediately after lifesaving surgery about his poor choice of running the red light? Of course not. The time to address the potentially negative logical consequences of this choice, particularly if others were hurt, is once everyone is calm and stabilized.

Stage Six

During this stage, problem solving and accountability for poor choices take place. Sometimes this does not happen until the next day because the student and others involved in the situation are not truly stabilized until they have had a chance to go home, sleep, and put some time and distance between themselves and the crisis. Deciding to wait to go through this process is a judgment call and is highly dependent on the student's ability to connect choices and their consequences after some time has passed. Nevertheless, this stage is crucial and should not be skipped, so if you do wait until the next day, do not be tempted to just ignore this process.

During this stage, keep the tone positive and praise the student for engaging in and exhibiting appropriate behavior during this process. It is difficult for anyone to talk about his or her mistakes and take personal accountability. Think about how difficult this is even for typical students or adults. This is a time to reestablish communication, rebuild relationships, problemsolve through what happened, and make a plan for what all involved parties could do differently next time. Instructional strategies such as writing social stories, practicing, and role playing are all appropriate during this process.

After this process, the student may return to his normal routine—or he may not. We strongly believe that experiencing logical undesirable consequences for aggressive or outof- control behavior is part of the learning process. This logical undesirable consequence may take the form of a red schedule (discussed in Chapter Thirteen) until complete trust has been reestablished or by having those who were physically or emotionally hurt by the student not interact with him for a certain amount of time, thereby providing the lesson that others do not like to be around those who scare or hurt them. The reasoning for the undesirable consequence should be clearly explained to the student so that it has a teaching rather than a punitive focus. Acting as if nothing happened and going on with a normal day in many cases can send the student the inaccurate and unintended message that there are no real-life consequences for these dangerous behavior choices. Remember that we want to teach life skills by structuring consequences that are related, reasonable, and respectful and mirror real life.

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