When someone is displaying challenging behaviour (either Autistic or Not) there is a change in the chemical balance in the brain. When looking at the brain we need to concentrate on three areas.
There are three areas of the brain –
1. Neocortex (rational/thinking brain)
2. Limbic (emotional/feeling brain)
3. Reptilian (instinctual/dinosaur brain)
Neocortex –Frontal lobes of brain, the ‘newest’ part of the brain = about 85% of
total brain mass, its functions and capabilities include:
-Reasoning and reflection
-Kindness, empathy and concern
-Creativity and imagination
Limbic – Also known a mammalian and emotional brain – has the same chemical
systems and structure of other mammals – it triggers strong emotions that need to
be managed well by rational brain. This part of brain activates:
-Rage and fear and separation distress
-Caring, nurturing and social bonding
-Playfulness and explorative urge
-Lust in adults
Reptilian – This is the deepest, most ancient part of brain – we share this with all
other vertebrates. It activates instinctive behaviour linked to survival and controls
essential bodily functions required for sustaining life, including:
-Fight or flight
-Hunger and digestion/elimination
-Breathing and circulation and
-Movement, posture and balance
When experiencing a heightened emotional state or stresses in our life. The brain has an influx of chemical (Adrenaline, Endorphins, Cortisol). In order for the brain to manage this is has to effectively shut down a portion of the brain, in this case the Pre-frontal Cortex.
With this section of the brain not functioning correctly those who are in a heightened emotional state lose their ability to communicate effectively and reason. This also effects their ability to problem solve.
When someone is in this state the worst thing to do is try and resolve issues or give them lots of verbal information to process. As someone’s behaviour becomes more challenging we should bring our communication down to simple words/visual or stop attempting to communicate at all.
So when you are experiencing challenging behaviour just remember that they have lost some of the brains ability to cope and adjust your communication or approach to accommodate.