Written by Raquelle Solon, FEI Business Solutions Engineer

My son Austin has special needs. He has multiple diagnoses that boil down to either underdeveloped areas of his brain, or injured parts of his brain due to more than a dozen shunt surgeries. While the executive functioning part of my brain understands this and can rationalize some of the behaviors I see him exhibit, the emotional part of my brain can sometimes become overwhelmed and screams ENOUGH ALREADY.

However, by understanding there is probably something else going on, I remind myself to take a step back, breathe, bite my tongue—give my son some time, as well—and then re-engage. My goal is to maintain a healthy relationship with him. Through my training in the Mandt System, I can understand that he probably has some unmet need going on. This time it was his safety and security.

When those of us with Mandt training speak about safety and security, we’re also talking about the emotional and psychological. Austin is getting ready to make a huge transition from living at home to living off-site at a vocational rehab facility, then hopefully moving out on his own. I remember how scary it was for me to move out when I was young and I don’t have half as many challenges as Austin does.

He is paralyzed from the waist down, so he will have to navigate a strange place in his wheelchair. He’ll have to figure out self-care that is unique to him. He’ll have to go to a different building for food, instead of rolling out of bed and up to the fridge like he does now. All very scary things to someone who has had a fairly consistent environment most of his life.

I’ve had to dig deep into my Mandt training the past few months in order to respond to Austin in ways that maintain his dignity and respect. While I’ve done crisis intervention training for over a decade, my prior training focused on setting limits. I’m so thankful I have Mandt, because it goes beyond recognizing and responding to behavior and instead focuses on understanding what the behavior is communicating.

While I’m a mom, my relationship with Austin is also that of caregiver. Like many staff in your organizations, I have to pull from the skills and training I’ve received in order to process and understand what I’m seeing before choosing a response that will hopefully de-escalate the situation and get everyone back to baseline. I can now pull those skills from training that has a proven track record of reducing incidents early instead of focusing on physical interventions. Mandt spends only 19 percent of training time on the physicals and the rest on building skills, options and the understanding of how to maintain a healthy relationship with the person you’re serving while managing safety for everyone involved.

Once I give myself and my son some cooling off time, we are able to communicate better and everyone can de-escalate and return to our own versions of normal. I wish I would have had this training 15 years ago, early in Austin’s school career and as we were developing behavior, but I can make a difference now. So can you.

For more information on Mandt, please send me an email or call 470-728-7423.