October 2019

A busy month: another podcast interview, a conference talk, helping out organising the May 2020 BILD Conference Making PBS Inclusive, and finishing proofs for the Jessica Kingsley book. Here's the publisher Blog:

Challenging Behaviours, Autism, Intellectual Disability and Us: The Elephants in the Room

We often think of challenging behaviour in terms of aggression or self-harm. But it can be any behaviour if done in unexpected places, too often or too hard. A child asking one question in class may receive praise, but if they ask half a dozen, they receive a punishment.

When Tony began writing Supporting Positive Behaviour in Intellectual Disabilities & Autism, he had one clear message in mind. “It’s important to be on the person’s side, not on their case,” Tony explains. “Understandably, when challenging behaviour happens, people are distressed. There’s a lot of doubt and blame. This is because nobody understands initially what the hell is happening. But behaviour is a language we can learn to understand.”

Tony notes ruefully that as much fertiliser has been written about challenging behaviour as has been spread over entire wine growing regions. After several years avoiding writing this book, and supporting families and schools, staff and service, and having spent nearly twenty years teaching at University, the urge to write a common sense book about the blindingly obvious could no longer be resisted. He intentionally wrote an accessible, inspiring and practical book that might make people pause, laugh and ponder the bigger picture. “We’re often so focussed on solving the puzzle of problem behaviour that we fail to notice the elephant in the room: that the person is unhappy. We might even miss seeing the person themselves!”

These behaviours may be shocking and frightening, but hidden in plain sight is a message we can learn from: behaviour is lawful even when awful, and it communicates something about the person’s life. We need to listen to the person’s behaviour as much as their words.

“There’s such a love of data to explain challenging behaviour, we often become more robot than human. Losing your human is an occupational hazard you can avoid: simply appreciate to the person’s perspective, understand the elephants in the room they share their lives with - those elephants can squash the life out of anyone - and ask how you can ensure the person lives a fun, enjoyable, and high quality of life. Ask what you can do to make the space for the person to live the life they need and be the person they are.”

Challenging behaviour is not the determining aspect of anybody’s life, even if it dominates how we think about them. “Challenging behaviour is simply a symptom of an unquiet life, of a fellow human in distress,” Tony says. “That’s the real story. I wanted to share the stories of people I’ve spent time with over the years, the stories of people with severe reputations. Many of these stories show how small changes make huge differences.”

The book provides an informal guide to understanding challenging behaviour, and most importantly, how to avoid and respond to it safely. The book shows how to support people in ways that don’t damage relationships and hope.

8th August 2019

PBS Podcast: I've just been interviewed by Luke Watts from My PEPS. As soon as this podcast is available I'll put up a link.

7th August 2019

I'll be taking early retirement/severance from the University at the end of August. Exciting times.

In the meantime this telling doodle was drawn by @D0V0S0 on Twitter. Drawn whilst David was on Tizard's 'Understanding Autism' massive open online course.

You can find my Instagram account here though I swing between having it private and public - I'm fickle like that - but you might be lucky!

31st May 2019

I've been meaning to rework a talk I gave in Manchester earlier this year for several weeks but lacked time. Values & Challenging Behaviour is the text from a talk I gave, details of which are in the paper. My original title for this was Arsehole. So I guess that's a little warning about the content.

29th May 2019

Here's a link to my video podcast on 'Values & Science - Getting the Balance Right in PBS'

28th May 2019

Very pleased to announce my own book on challenging behaviour will be published by Jessica Kingsley in November 2019. It's available for pre-order and is on Amazon.

I am currently writing a follow up book about practice leadership in services (working title 'Supporting People') which will hopefully be completed by December 2019. I've also plans for a third title, to be written in early 2020.

27th May 2019

I recently completed the co-editing a new book for Pavilion. It's due to be published in June 2019. You can click on the cover to go to the publisher's website.

All editing fees are being donated to the Challenging Behaviour Foundation

15th May 2019

I ran two sessions at the British Institute of Learning Disability Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) conference in Birmingham. It was great to catch up with so many people and hear about their work & research. If you navigate here you can read and download all the presentations of all the speakers.