The Help Strategy: Everyone Has A Voice


The Help Strategy is one of three verbal de-escalation strategies in the Safety-Care curriculum.  The goal of the Help Strategy is to prompt individuals to communicate their wants and needs as a way to de-escalate a potential crisis situation.  Individuals that have deficits in communication skills may be more likely to engage in challenging behavior to communicate a want or need.  By using the Help Strategy to prompt communication, we reinforce their communication and avoid reinforcing crisis behavior.  There are several ways to help individuals to communicate – providing choices, telling them what to say, or asking a question.

How do we prompt an individual to communicate if they do not talk?

The Help Strategy can be applied to a variety of non-vocal communication modalities.  We can prompt individuals to request using communication (speech generating) devices, picture exchange communication system (PECS), sign language, choice boards, or even gestures to indicate what they want.

When individuals engage in signals of agitation, we can use their specific non-vocal modality to prompt communication using the Help Strategy.  The prompts we use may look different than prompting someone to say what they need, but the steps of the Help Strategy are all the same regardless of the communication modality.  Using the Help Strategy with individuals who do not communicate vocally can be an effective way to de-escalate crisis situations and prevent higher intensity challenging behavior from occurring.  When we use the Help Strategy, we teach functional communication that functions to get individuals what they want and replace challenging behavior.