Addressing Behavioural Concerns in Autistic Youth through Active Engagements

Not getting the snacks or drinks when he wanted them used to trigger meltdowns and self-injurious behaviours in Hong Yun. Read on to find out how the DAC team addresses [...]

Not getting the snacks or drinks when he wanted them used to trigger meltdowns and self-injurious behaviours in Chong Hong Yun. 

Sometimes, he would bite his hands and legs until they bled.  

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability at an early age, the 22-year-old joined the SPD Day Activity Centre (DAC) in 2019. 

His training officer Neilson Millares recalled that Hong Yun would rip papers to shreds and damage work task equipment to satisfy his curiosity and explore his sensory needs. 

Creating a Behavioural Intervention Plan 

To address Hong Yun’s behavioural concerns, Neilson and the other training officers work closely with the occupational therapist and psychologist to create a behavioural intervention plan.  

One of the ways to manage Hong Yun’s behaviour is through the use of a “first, then” visual schedule.  

Hong Yun holding the first-then schedule

“The schedule is used to convey clearly to Hong Yun when he could get the items that he wanted. We also use it to structure less preferred activities before preferred ones to build behavioural momentum,” explained Neilson. 

A training officer engaging Hong Yun with picture cards

Concrete visual cues and a timer were also used to teach Hong Yun the concept of waiting. 

Training officer Neilson preparing Hong Yun for an outdoor activity
Neilson preparing Hong Yun for an outdoor activity 

The team also introduced various work tasks and exercises to keep Hong Yun engaged and minimise disruptive behaviour. Recently, Hong Yun has started to learn leathercrafting through an initiative by his training officers and SPD Sheltered Workshop. 

Maximising Hong Yun’s Vocational Potential 

When leathercrafting was introduced in DAC, clients like Hong Yun are exposed to different skillsets as they work on different craftwork.  

More than just a means to engage the clients meaningfully, the pre-vocational activities and craftwork aim to increase their work endurance and productivity. Once they are able to complete the craftwork to a satisfactory level, other types of craftwork will be taught. 

Training officer Neilson helping Hong Yun with the leathercraft activity

“For Hong Yun, we hope that his participation in the leathercraft activity can help to improve his fine motor skills and increase his ability to focus on and complete the tasks,” shared Neilson. 

Though it will still take some time before Hong Yun master the craft, Neilson noted the progress that he has made in the past year.  

Hong Yun playing badminton with the help of a training officer

“We are heartened to witness Hong Yun’s improvement in his task tolerance. He has also shown an increased ability and willingness to follow exercise circuits.” 

Hong Yun sitting down and smiling

More importantly, the frequency and intensity of Hong Yun’s meltdowns and self-injurious behaviours were reduced significantly with consistent interventions by his dedicated DAC care team.