Linda Miller on the ‘5P Approach’ to behaviour management for young people with Autism

Linda Miller is the author of Practical Behaviour Management Solutions for Children and Teens with Autism: The 5P Approach, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Linda is a chartered educational psychologist and chartered scientist with a specialism in autism and related disorders. Visit Linda’s website at www.5papproach.co.uk.

How did you first become interested in working with people with Autism Spectrum conditions?

I’ve been working in this area now for more than 25 years, and my interest began as a teacher in a special school for children with behaviour difficulties. I wanted to know more about why some children were having both communication and behavioural problems, and that’s when I first found out about autism. I quickly became hooked by it, and I’ve been working with autism ever since. I progressed from being a classroom teacher to a provision head, then I became a psychologist, developed my specialism in autism, and I am now the Operations Director of the Eagle House Group which specialises in the care of children and young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Can you tell us more about the 5p Approach which you have developed?

The 5p Approach evolved over several years as a result of my work as a psychologist within schools. I grew increasingly concerned that I was often called in to deal with behaviour difficulties after the event, when a better understanding of autism and the reasons for the behaviour occurring could have prevented many problems arising in the first place. I felt we needed an approach which looked at behaviour from an ASD perspective, which took account of the different types of behaviour and the degree of severity, and which provided a consistent framework of intervention techniques. It was also important to establish a system of record keeping which was clear, visual and easy to use. Gradually the 5p Approach evolved, undergoing constant modification as it was used on a daily basis in schools. It is now a tried and tested, comprehensive ‘package’ which starts by addressing the nature and causes of behavioural issues and then provides a pathway leading to a solution.

How has the public perception of autism changed since you began working in the field?

When my interest in ASD began all those years ago, little was known about the nature of the condition and the reasons for the behavioural issues it gave rise to. However in recent years there has been a huge advance in the understanding of autism and in the development of ways to support children and young people with ASD. There is now much more awareness among the public, and in schools a greater recognition of what is needed for the successful placement of an ASD child. But much more still needs to be done.

What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by people with ASD today?

Overcoming others’ lack of understanding of the nature of autism and helping them to develop an understanding of the needs of individuals on the spectrum. That requires an acceptance and valuing of difference and an appreciation of what is needed to create a suitable ASD “friendly” environment. This would go a long way towards enabling those people with ASD to fully achieve their potential, gain independence and ensure their voice is heard.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spending time with my family, gardening, cooking – and reading murder mysteries!

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2009

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