When a person displays behaviours of concern, they may have a nervous system that is overwhelmed and have gone into fight/flight mode. Our own reactions when someone is distressed can influence the person’s distress further. We may not be aware of it, but the unspoken signals we send out can influence feelings of safety or fear in others. Taking the time to consider such things as our posture, facial expression and breathing patterns can impact significantly on another person’s arousal levels and help them feel calmer. Being mindful of our signals can also help build accepting relationships, a person’s sense that they can rely on others, and that they are safe, even when they are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. When this is absent, the person moves to the next step in the hierarchy of keeping themselves safe – fight/flight, also manifested as a behaviour of concern. This presentation will look at how understanding the nervous system can help carers when supporting people with behaviours of concern.

Susan Fowler
Scope Australia

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