The Incredible 5 Point Scale – by Mayer Johnson
- Develop an understanding of Incredible 5-Point Scale
- Develop an understanding of the Anxiety Curve and how it relates to behaviour
- Develop an understanding of analyizing a behaviour or concept by breaking it into concrete parts
- Anxiety curve
- Designing a 5 point scale
- Teaching the 5 point scale
- Using the 5 point scale
Click on the curve to see Kari Dunn Buron’s example of the Anxiety Curve
The anxiety curve is a visual representation of the strong influence of anxiety and how it impacts the student. This model has been used by the authors of the book: The Incredible 5 Point Scale approximately 10 years. The anxiety curve can be used to help individuals who deal with a child who has anxiety to understand the process that occurs when anxiety escalates.
It is suggested by Buron and Curtis, that this model be used as a worksheet to help plan the intervention required to support a child at each level of their anxiety. Begin by have a blank table with the 5 Point Scale along the left hand side. See sample below.
|5 Point Scale||Explanation|
|5||This is the crisis stage. List the behaviours and response of the child at the most heightened stage of their anxiety.|
|4||The child with autism is not able to manage choices at this stage. List calming strategies to be modeled to the child during this stage.|
|3||It is necessary for the caregiver to begin helping the child with calming strategies at this level. What strategies will be used to help the child’s anxiety from escalating to the next level?|
|2||Describe what the child looks like, what they might say or do as their anxiety begins to escalate. List strategies that will be used to distract the child from the trigger.|
|1||This is the groundwork of the plan for the child. This is where the skills for managing anxiety are taught to the child. List anxiety producing triggers and plans for the skills to be taught to handle challenging situations.|
Created by S. Empson based on reading at http://www.5pointscale.com/smart_ideas.htm
Designing a 5 Point Scale
Individuals with ASD are generally visual learners, have social and cognitive differences and they learn differently than others learn. The Incredible 5-Point Scale supports these learners by simplifying behaviors and by assigning them a number, a colour or both. The scales are personalized for the individual or group of individuals based on a specific behaviour that is to be altered. When working with these individuals and teaching them to use the 5 Point Scale it is important to keep in mind their individual learning needs.
The principle behind the Incredible 5 Point Scale is straightforward and can be personalized for almost every behavior or expectation conceivable. It can be used in social skills groups or with individuals of different ages, across a wide variety of circumstances and in a broad array of situations.
In their book, The Incredible 5-Point Scale: Assisting students with autism spectrum disorders in understanding social interactions and controlling their emotional responses, Buron and Curtis (2003), provide multiple examples for use including:
- controlling voice level
- dealing with obsessive behaviors
- meeting and greeting others, to name a few
The first step and most important factor is to identify the behavior to be targeted. Whether it be reducing anxiety around a situation by providing 5 steps or strategies, or labeling the levels of voice from whispering to shouting, the Incredible 5 Point Scale can be applied. Once a behavior is identified, it needs to be task analyzed or broken into concrete parts. Working with the individual with ASD, these parts need to be assigned a label or a visual representation. An example provided by Buron and Curtis deals with understanding emotions from happy to angry. For their example faces are used to identify or tag the feelings for the child. The child, working one on one with an adult, is taught what “angry” looks like, what it “feels” like, and how to get help or what to do when they are angry.
Teaching the 5 Point Scale
Work with the child to develop each phase of the 5 point scale. Work one on one with the child and directly teach what each step looks like and feels like for them. Directly teach the decided upon calming strategies the child will use. Use concrete materials or have the student practice each strategy using such resources as the 5 point scale, social stories, a calming sequence, yoga or breathing exercises. Model each strategy for the student and have them copy you. Repeat the modeling and copying process on a frequent basis until the child is able to respond on their own to visual or verbal prompts.
This teaching sequence is only to be worked on when the child is functioning at level 1 of the 5 point scale.
Using the 5 Point Scale
A 5-point scale can be used to help teach the person with ASD to recognize different levels of stress and anxiety. The scale visually breaks down a person’s responses to stress by labeling each level with what the behavior looks like, what the level feels like, and the outcome of the stress reduction exercise or routines (Buron, K & Curtis, M. 2003).
Steps to introducing the 5 point scale: adapted from Guide to introducing the 5 point scale
- Choose the target behaviour. Any kind of behaviour can be selected to be targeted. Anxiety or other negative feelings can be targeted for rating and management.
- Decide on the content for each scale. In the 5 Point Scale each number represents the level or extent of the behaviour.
- Develop a social story or visual cues for the story. The student’s interests and level of understanding need to be taken in to careful consideration during this level. The social story should explain how the scale will be used by the student.
- Introduce the 5 Point Scale to the student. In order for this strategy to be successful the child must understand each step and the response expected from each level.
- Practice the scale with the student through role play. Peer mentors who understand and have a connection with the student could also provide support during this step. Consider others who interact with this student and involve them in learning the scale and practicing with the student.
Children with disabilities such as ASD often lack the social competence needed to cope in difficult situations. The Incredible 5-Point Scale is a behavioral support that breaks down behaviors and social interactions into clear, visual, and tangible segments so that individuals can learn appropriate ways to respond and interact in difficult situations. A scale can be personalized to the student using it based on their preferences and development. The scale itself may be created using colors, pictures, or a rating system of 1 to 5 or combinations of these.
Using the scale the student rates his/her emotions or state. This allows the student to give feedback to staff about how he/she is feeling, helps student to manage their thinking process and is a proactive approach to managing behaviour.