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Environments: ​Behavior Supports

People who don’t have disabilities modify their environments and use tools to make life better. People with disabilities may also need modifications in their environments and tools to make life better. This is one in a series of articles about ways to create accessible, friendly, and welcoming environments for all.

When we think of environmental modifications, many people think primarily about changes to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility devices. But other types of environmental changes can ensure better lives for children and adults with autism and related conditions.

Rocking, arm flapping, and other body movements are often viewed as “self-stimulating (aberrant) behaviors,” and parents and professionals may work feverishly to make a person stop doing these things. Some of us, however, recognize that “behavior is communication” (as detailed in other articles). If a person is unable to communicate orally, he may communicate in the only way he can: through physical activities (called “behaviors” by some).

On the other hand, a person may rock, flap his arms, or do some other “self-stimming” activity simply because it feels good, makes him happy, calms him, or meets some other need. Now consider this: people who don’t have disability labels routinely perform all types of self-stimming behaviors, including: smoking, hair twirling, gum chewing, nose picking, whisker scratching, teeth picking, ear pulling, finger drumming, crotch rubbing, and a whole host of other activities!​ Click here to continue.

If a person likes to rock, buy him a rocking chair (or a rocking horse, for a child). Many people like to rock in rocking chairs—I do!

Kathie Snow


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