THE NEST APPROACH
Our approach is based on our extensive partnership work with autistic young people, in addition to the CPS Model (Dr. Ross Greene), the Low Arousal Approach (Professor Andy McDonnell) and the PANDA Approach (The PDA Society).
If needed, help a young person to become more relaxed
If someone is upset/ stressed/ having a meltdown, focus on helping them to feel calm as people cannot think logically at this time. If you feel they are not in fight/ flight mode at the moment, skip to step 2: Empathise.
Appear Calm: You know once they are more relaxed, you can start to have conversations about what happened and how you can help. If you don't look relaxed, this can make a young person more stressed due to the emotional contagion effect. Knowing that things will be ok once they are relaxed, try your best to look relaxed, to stop the young person from becoming more stressed.
Reduce demands: Only one person should respond to them at a time, and try not to tell them what to do.
Be flexible with the rules: Learning happens when people are calm. If you focus on things they are doing that you aren't happy with right now, this may make them more stressed.
In Spectrum Gaming when a young person is highly stressed, we sometimes allow them to swear and break other rules as long as it isn't impacting on other members, with the objective of allowing them to become relaxed. A safe place for this is in DMs.
Avoid power struggles: People need control when they are struggling, so do not take it from them unless you need to. While you are hoping for control so you can help, this can be counter-intuitive.
Use Distractions: Invite them to watch a video, listen to a song or play a game together. They might say no or react negatively, but if they don't this could be just what they need.
Where can I learn more about this step?
Studio 3 has a range of free webinars around the 'Low Arousal Approach'. We have adapted the fundamentals of the low arousal approach for digital settings, which is how the above approach was developed. There is a free webinar from Andy McDonnell himself talking about the Low Arousal approach that I highly recommend. Please go to ‘2nd June’ on this page to find it: https://www.studio3.org/free-webinars
The PDA Society offers a wealth of information and resources around Pathological Demand Avoidance. Check out their website here: https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/
One particularly helpful resource from the PDA Society is their 'Helpful Approaches for Parents/ Carers' sheet. We believe the PANDA approach that is shared here works for all autistic young people, so this is an integral part of our approach: https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Helpful-approaches-for-parents-and-carers.pdf