Discover the Low
Arousal Approach


Person centered behavior management for carers, educators, and support personnel

Why Low Arousal Approach

The Studio 3 Low Arousal Approach Training is a specialized behavior management approach that supports individuals with behavior of concern. Here are three main reasons someone should use this approach:

Focus on De-escalation
& Calm

The Low Arousal Approach Training emphasizes de-escalation techniques as the primary strategy for managing behaviors. Instead of using punitive measures or power struggles, this approach focuses on minimizing arousal and preventing escalation of behaviors by using calming techniques, such as lowering the tone of voice, reducing sensory stimulation, and maintaining a calm demeanor. By addressing behaviors in a non-confrontational and non-threatening manner, the Low Arousal Approach Training aims to prevent challenging behaviors from escalating to crisis levels, thereby ensuring the safety and well-being of both the individual and the staff.

& Individualized

The Low Arousal Approach Training is person-centered and individualized, meaning that it recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and tailors the approach to their specific needs and preferences. This approach emphasizes building positive relationships with the individuals, understanding their triggers and motivations for behavior, and using proactive strategies to prevent behaviors of concern from occurring. The approach also emphasizes empowering the individual to have a sense of control and autonomy in their environment, which can help reduce feelings of frustration and anxiety that may contribute to challenging behaviors.

& Collaborative

The Low Arousal Approach Training is based on empirical research and best practices in the field of behavior management. It is a collaborative approach that involves a multidisciplinary team, including caregivers, educators, and other professionals, working together to develop and implement strategies that are consistent across all settings where the individual may be present. This collaborative approach ensures consistency, predictability, and effectiveness in managing behaviors, which can help promote positive outcomes for the individual over the long term.

Benefits of Low Arousal Approach

The Studio 3 Low Arousal Approach Training offers a de-escalation-focused, person-centered, and evidence-based approach to managing challenging behaviors.


Prevents Harm

Safe & Calming

Addresses Unique Individual Needs




Create Positive Relationships


Personal Autonomy

Long-term Outcomes

Multidisciplinary Approach

Low Arousal Training Programs

Low arousal approaches were developed in the late 80s by Dr Andrew McDonnell BSc MSc PhD. The approaches are unashamedly non-aversive in nature. A central theme throughout this philosophy is the encouragement of carers to constantly question their own behaviour when working in care settings. Low arousal approaches are research-based and have been clinically tested by Studio III Training Systems, European leaders in the field of behaviour management.

One Day Course

Introduction to the Low Arousal Approach Online Training

Low Arousal Approach training, developed over 30 years ago in the UK, has been offered in Canada through Autism Awareness Centre Inc./Studio 3 Canada for 10 years. This training is for professionals, support workers and EAs, carers and family members.

Three Day Course

Introduction to the Three Day Course “Managing Behavior of Concern”

The “Managing Behavior of Concern” course is designed to address the sorts of problems you meet every day in your work and give you better solutions and strategies to cope with them. It is not an academic course; it is practical, ‘hands on’, and we can guarantee that it will be good fun!

Three Five Day Sessions

Train the Trainer

Studio 3 Training Systems is a highly specialized research based training organization, which provides high quality and specialized behaviour management training. Over 70% of our work is in the field of learning disabilities and autism, however, in recent years ‘low arousal’ behaviour management training has been developed specifically for staff working with people with an acquired brain injury, older adults, people with mental health problems and children/young people with emotional behavioural difficulties.

Questions about Low Arousal Approach?


Are you wondering how Low Arousal Approach fits into your current behavior management system? Below are some answers to common questions we receive. 

What does the term 'arousal' mean?

Arousal here refers to the state of both physiological and psychological alertness and reaction to stimuli, which causes the brain to activate the nervous and hormone systems of the body, thus increasing heart rate, blood pressure and the person’s readiness to respond.

Does arousal lead to shut downs?

If we think about arousal and its behavioral impacts, there are a number of areas where certain behavior may be explained by this terminology, particularly in individuals with autism. Extreme levels of hyperarousal may lead to a person becoming less responsive to environmental stimuli and appearing to literally “shut down”. In these instances, the internal arousal state becomes more dominant, providing a physiological explanation for the forms of catatonic-type behaviors which can be observed in some individuals. Other forms of catatonia may be a result of low levels of physiological arousal, which has a similar effect on movement.

How easy is it to use the practice?

It can be difficult to reflect, but it can also be liberating. Incidents of challenging behaviour do not occur in a “behavioural vacuum”, however generally staff fail to interpret behaviours in a way which acknowledges their involvement in the situation. In reflective practice, there is a focus on actively learning from experience. A reflective practitioner might focus on their own potential contribution to challenging situations. They would ask questions such as, “Did I trigger the situation with my actions?” or “How can I change the situation in the future?”

Are we reinforcing negative behaviors?

People are often advised to ignore negative behaviors as they are seen as willful and manipulative, and therefore should not be reinforced. However, the low arousal approach recognizes and responds to the fact that many behaviors are not always willful and deliberate, despite sometimes feeling like they are. When we are trying to manage situations, it can begin to feel like a person is controlling us. By recognizing our own role in situations of crisis, and seeking to understand the individuals we are working with, we can better manage behavior of concern by focusing on their origins.


The Science Behind Low Arousal Approach

Low Arousal Approach is a proven methodology and can greatly improve your behavior management needs. 

The Recovering Behaviorist

The first of a series of articles on best practices in Empathetic Behavior Support

Empathic Stress Support

A framework for supporting people and systems who are experience distress and levels of chronic stress.

What is the Low Arousal Approach and How Can It Benefit My Family?

The Low Arousal Approach at Home

Free From Restraints: Gentle Ways To Help an Autistic Child Manage Meltdowns

How Compliance-Based Approaches Damage Interoceptive Awareness & Self-Regulation

What is low demand parenting or a low demand approach?

Addressing Challenging Behavior and ASD – Going Beyond What We See

How important are relationships in the lives of people with autism?

What is Trauma? A Simple Guide

Client Testimonials


Loved Andrew’s wonderful sense of humour and human approach.

Teacher, Edmonton, Alberta

This conference (with Andrew McDonnell) has given us hope. I’ve been dealing with staff who are persistent in calling/labeling everything as behavioural. This conference affirms to me my thoughts that it’s not behavioural all the time. There are many other reasons. Thank you!


Residential Worker

Ever since I participated in a Studio 3 course in Managing Behaviour of Concern, I have been totally convinced about the importance of low arousal and person-centred approaches, and to focus on providing positive skills and attitudes among the staff and carers who support the individual. Since qualifying as a trainer, I have brought this philosophy to literally thousands of residential staff, teachers, volunteers, special needs assistants and families, and I never get tired of delivering this simple but very powerful message. The physical skills aspect of the Studio III course is, in fact, secondary to the low arousal theory and the main focus is really on trying to get each person to reflect more on their own thoughts, beliefs and behaviours and to develop greater empathy and understanding of the person they support.

However, it is acknowledged that there are times when staff/carers might need to use some physical skills to ensure safety for all and to encourage greater confidence and less stress if someone presents with physically challenging behaviours. In my experience the Studio III physical skills are the least aversive I have come across, and I have first-hand experience of other approaches, including Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI).

Paul Phillips
Staff Development Officer

Dr. Andrew McDonnell was an outstanding presenter. I enjoyed his sense of humour. His presentation was practical and will help me to apply a more person-centered approach with clients, students and families.

Educational Assistant, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Contact Us

Low Arousal Approach training operates throughout North America as Studio III Canada Inc. and is licensed by Studio III UK.