Tips For Handling A Crisis

Take A Deep Breath

This advice seems so absolutely silly and obvious. I used to hate when people would tell me to take a deep breath. “Got it. I’m breathing. I’m not going to suffocate myself. Chill.” But then I realized that sometimes in a crisis I jump in split-second too early. Yes, when there is a safety risk we want to act as quickly as possible. But the 3 seconds of taking a deep breath before acting usually resulted in me responding not reacting. A reaction is based off of emotion, it’s impulsive, and it’s more likely to be wrong. A response is planned and thought. A deep breath is the difference.

Have A Crisis Plan

Sick of hearing me talk about crisis plans? Too bad! They are still THAT important. This is your insurance policy. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it but you sure as heck better have one. Check out my mini video training series on Developing a Crisis Plan. You can also download my simple and visual crisis plan here

Keep Other Students Safe And On Task

What’s worse that one crisis? More than one crisis. Keep your other students safe but also try to keep them on their schedule and engaged in an activity. I always recommend keeping bins of puzzles, file folders, and other independent work in every area of the classroom so you always have something to give other students. If students are getting distracted, give headphones and an iPad to keep them occupied during this time. 

Gather Information

Every major behavioral incident is a chance to learn about your student. What are his triggers? What helps him deescalate? Even though you are working on keeping your student and others safe, be gathering valuable information while doing so. Write it down as soon as you can. This information may help prevent this issue in the future. 

About The Author 

Sasha Long, BCBA, M.A., is the founder and president of The Autism Helper, Inc. She is a board-certified behavior analyst and a certified special education teacher. After ten years of teaching in a self-contained special education classroom, Sasha now works full time as a consultant, writer, and behavior analyst. Sasha manages and writes The Autism Helper Blog, as a way to share easy to use and ready to implement strategies and ideas. Sasha also travels internationally as a speaker and consultant providing individualized training and feedback to parents, educators, therapists, and administrators in the world of autism. She is currently an adjunct professor in the school of Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Sasha received her undergraduate degree in Special Education from Miami University and has a Masters Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Contact Sasha at

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Our Difflearn blog was created specifically for sharing. Here, we’ll collaborate with trusted professionals and parents to share experiences, concerns, new and exciting products and events and best of all, our collective treasure of information. It is our hope that you will find the information posted here helpful, practical, and interesting and that it will help all of us – especially our children – learn and grow. And this is just the beginning…We hope that professionals and parents who have advice, information or a story to share will contact us and submit thoughts and ideas for blog posts. We intend for this to be a true community and all who are interested in the education of our ASD children are invited to participate.