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A key component of the Low Arousal approach is learning to manage stress. This is essential for the people we care for, as well as monitoring our own stress levels as staff. The more stressed we feel, the more prone we are to acting and reacting negatively.


Stress is a natural human experience, and as such, we have developed many coping mechanisms to help us manage our stress levels. Some of the people we support may have additional difficulties developing these coping mechanisms, and require some extra help to handle stress. 

Research shows that the more stressed a person is, the less able they are to regulate affect. This can result in challenging behaviour, as well as unhappiness and a general lack of well-being. Low Arousal approaches to managing behaviours of concern seek firstly to establish possible sources of stress and to implement coping mechanisms and stress management strategies. By dealing with stress first and challenging behaviour second, the Low Arousal approach seeks to minimise instances of challenging behaviour by recognising that highly stressed people can behave in challenging ways. 

In addition, it is important to be aware of one's own stress levels when supporting people with additional needs. Stress is transactional in nature, and we must be aware of how our own stress can influence a situation or a person's reactions. Low arousal means implementing stress reduction across the board, encouraging staff and service users alike to explore their own well-being and coping strategies to create a more relaxed and less emotionally arousing environment for all. 

'When people are under intolerable stress, they react – this is true of autistic and non-autistic people.' - Charlene Tait, deputy chief executive of Scottish Autism

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