Is Your Ministry Equipped To Manage Crisis Behaviors?

November 30, 2012

Preventing Behaviors

ParentFight“The next thing I knew, he was trying to kick and bite me.”  It happened so suddenly and without notice that it caught Mary totally offguard.  “I didn’t know exactly what to do but I knew that I needed to keep everyone safe,” she added.  “It felt like the longest 15-minutes I’ve ever experienced in our special needs ministry!”

It’s not uncommon for scenarios like this to play themselves out on any given Sunday in faith communities who provide a special needs ministry.  Sometimes children with special needs will display very challenging behaviors.  The moments during those behaviors could be described as stressful and tense for everyone involved.  If you are a special needs ministry volunteer or a parent to a child with special needs then I suspect that you could add a few more words to this list.

The last workshop that I conducted was for the “Special Edition” staff and volunteers of a large St. Louis church.  They wanted to learn what they needed to do in order to prevent or head-off potential crisis behaviors exhibited by a 17-year old teen with autism.  This young man had been a valued part of their special needs ministry for over ten years but had recently started to push, shove, and kick when asked to participate in the teaching lesson.

I conducted a six-hour workshop for the Special Edition staff and volunteers several weeks later.  I discussed the essentials of the crisis escalation cycle, the predictable sequence in which behaviors tend to unfold, and provided evidence-based strategies that would help them to prevent and/or de-escalate his crisis behaviors.

One of the things that I most appreciated about the Special Edition staff and volunteers was that they WANTED this teen to be able to continue to be a part of their ministry.  They wanted the boy’s parents to be able to come to church, worship God, and receive the blessings of fellowship.  They also wanted to keep their staff and volunteers safe from harm!  In order to accomplish all of these objectives, however, they needed a resource person who was well-versed in crisis behavior management.  That’s where I came into the picture.

But what if I weren’t available?  What if no one was available to train them and give them the know-how to prevent or de-escalate crisis behaviors?  Not every church is blessed with a member who has experience in this area.  Not every church has access to someone who can take the time to provide this much needed training.  I cannot be every place that I’m needed.  What then?  More than likely, due to safety reasons, the family of this young teen would not be able to attend church anymore.

It’s for this reason it’s important to have online resources that can be accessed.  Resources where you, your volunteers, and even parents can learn how to prevent and de-escalate challenging behaviors.

Here’s a great video that describes the Crisis Escalation Cycle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjyZuCfVwrA

Michael Woods

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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