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Managing Distressed Behavior for Professionals

Managing Distressed Behavior for Professionals

Level: Beginner to Advanced

For: Professionals; Parents/caregivers/family members

Monday, August 12 @ 9:30 am Wednesday, August 14 @ 3:30 pm PDT

Presented by Allison Balfour, Sharon Power, and Heather Lavigne

This in-person introductory course is designed to emphasize practical, non-confrontational approaches for assisting individuals experiencing significant distress and exhibiting challenging behaviors.

Attend the Day 1 program to learn:

  • Legal issues and the role of policies
  • Qualitative differences in the nature of violence
  • Carer’s levels of tolerance and reactions to distressed behaviour
  • Causes of distressed behaviour
  • An Introduction to Low Arousal Approaches (including interaction, defusing, and distraction strategies)
  • An introduction to debriefing (why it is necessary and how to do it)
  • Coping with distressed behaviour
  • Managing versus changing behaviours

Attend the Day 2 program to learn:

  • Group Participation Exercises
  • The Principles of Non-aversive Physical Skills
  • Physical Avoidance Skills
  • Non-physical and Physical Low Arousal Skills in Practice
  • Roleplay – Defusing skills
  • The Acceptability of Physical Restraint Procedures

Attend the Day 3 program to learn:

  • Practicing gentle physical skills, such as the ‘walk around’ method and planned escape
  • Using movement to defuse a situation
  • Allowing time to calm down
  • Preventing the escalation of stressful situations via non-verbal communication (eye contact, body language, gesture)
  • Roleplay activities to test the various skills learnt on the course and necessitate the use of restraint
  • Looking beyond crisis management

Training will be in-person at the Langley campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The course will be facilitated by certified instructors and is also suitable for family members and caregivers.

Catering will be provided during the training sessions.

Questions about the event? Please email Allison Balfour at [email protected]

Tickets for Days 1, 2, and 3 are available individually. To attend Day 2, you must have completed Day 1, and to attend Day 3, you must have completed Days 1 and 2. If you want to attend all 3 Days, please add all 3 tickets to your cart.


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking “Get Tickets” will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Day 1
Including Catering
$ 150.00
20 available
Day 2
Including Catering
$ 150.00
15 available
Day 3
Including Catering
$ 150.00
15 available

Philosophy: The philosophy is to approach managing distressed behaviors in a gentle and dignified way by acquiring a better understanding and insight into what causes an individual to become distressed and using Low Arousal Approaches and gentle physical skills. In essence, we provide de-escalation training, which not only seeks to control crisis situations but to avoid them altogether.

Basis: The approach is founded upon applied academic research and carried out by specialists within residential homes, day centres, schools and educational settings, supported homes and hospital settings.

What is it: The Low Arousal Approach enables professionals to accept and manage distressed and challenging behaviors when they arise and equips them with the tools to create systems of support around individuals to manage stress and trauma. The approach empowers the individual or team to focus on the ‘person’ in the situation, identify causes for distressed behavior, and use proven Low Arousal skills to reduce distress and improve overall well-being.

We provide physical interventions training on an individualized basis once a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) has been carried out to prevent the unnecessary use of physical restraint by staff. Our trainers work with course participants to tailor the course to suit the needs of individual service providers, and to ensure the needs of these service providers are met.

Trainers: Our trainers specialize in crisis management training for individuals working with adults and children who struggle with a range of issues across the life span, from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to intellectual disabilities.

Who should take this: Our approach to managing distressed behavior can be applied to professionals working with any individual, regardless of their support needs. We aim to enable carers to confidently manage crisis situations without force, and with the ability to be reflective about how future situations could be prevented.

This de-escalation training is focused understanding the wider world of behavior, and looking beyond that to create environments where stress is managed, and well-being improved – for both client and carer. There is a strong focus on empathy and building positive relationships. We have found that after completing this short course, carers feel more confident in their work and experience less stress.

Schedule: Managing Distressed Behavior (formerly Managing Challenging Behavior or MCB) is a three-day programme that promotes a person-centred approach to crisis management.

Allison Balfour

Allison has been active in inclusive education, including mental health and developmental disabilities for approximately 15 years. These experiences, as well as being a parent of neurodivergent children, have equipped Allison with the extensive knowledge and skills required to liaise with and develop community capacity.

As a member of the District Action Team for Autism in Surrey Schools, Allison worked as a Practical Functional Assessment/Skill-based treatment implementation coach and provided Low-arousal training.  Allison has been involved with and supported the Intensive Intervention teams, incorporating trauma-assumed approaches. Allison’s expertise extends to teaching de-escalation strategies and facilitating social skills classes. Beyond the classroom, Allison is committed to helping families navigate the intricacies of the Ministry, medical, and education systems as part of a multidisciplinary team, as well advocating for her own neurodivergent children.

Sharon Power

Sharon Power is a Lead Low Arousal Trainer at Studio 3 and serves as an Inclusive Support Teacher specializing in autism within the Surrey School District. With a commitment spanning five years, Sharon has been instrumental in delivering Low Arousal Approach training and facilitating its integration into daily practices among district staff. Her dedication extends to both students experiencing distressed behaviors and the staff who support them during challenging times.

Sharon holds a Master of Education in Developmental Disabilities from the University of British Columbia and is a certified teacher in British Columbia. Since 2004, she has provided invaluable behavioral and consultative services to children and youth with autism and developmental disabilities, showcasing her expertise and passion for inclusive education.

Heather Lavigne

Heather Lavigne is a Lead Low Arousal Trainer with Studio 3 and is currently a District Behaviour Specialist Teacher in the Surrey School District. For the past 5 years, she has been delivering the Low Arousal training to staff as well as supporting with the implementation of the approach to teams across the district. She is dedicated to promoting positive behaviour management techniques as well as creating an inclusive learning environment for all students. Heather incorporates an understanding of the impact of trauma on student learning and behaviour when supporting the implementation of Low Arousal and other evidence-based practices to promote emotional regulation and resilience.

Heather has 27 years of teaching experience with children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour, and trauma. She is passionate about fostering a culture of respect and feels strongly about providing practical strategies to help individuals and staff to regulate their emotions and behaviours effectively. Heather strives to empower adults to respond both empathetically and proactively in challenging situations, promoting a safety and well-being for all. Her experience helps teams implement low arousal techniques to support managing heightened arousal states.

The program cost is $150 per day.

ACT is unable to provide bursaries to this workshop as the price is determined by Studio 3.

*Last day to register is August 11 at 11:59pm, 2024

Group Discounts

Registering 3 or more attendees at a time? Receive a 10% discount!

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Autism Funding

If you wish to use your child’s Autism Funding to pay for your registration, ACT can invoice the Autism Funding Branch directly. If you are paying in advance to be reimbursed, you must contact the Autism Funding Branch for approval first.

For information on how to register with your Autism Funding, visit Workshop Registration Using Autism Funding.

Please note ACT cannot accept responsibility for any expenses incurred by the participant from charges that involve travel, accommodations, or other costs related to attending an ACT event. These are the sole responsibility of the participant as well as all risks associated with non-refundable, non-changeable purchases. ACT strongly recommends that participants purchase cancellation insurance for travel, etc. where possible.

20901 Langley Bypass
Langley, BC V3A 8G9 Canada
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$150.00 Register for 1 day, 2 days, or all 3 days