The Autism Toolbox: Behaviours - Understanding and Managing Them

This "Toolbox" brings together advice, local support, services, activities and resources relating to autism. The name toolbox has been chosen to reflect that anyone, with or without an autism diagnosis, parents and professionals can make use of this information which covers various topics. This section is about understanding and managing behaviours.

Need to increase the text size or change the background colour? This can be done on the accessibility page. This page can also be read aloud and translated using Browsealoud. Start by selecting the speak icon. 

In this section (Jump to)

Information on common behaviours

Meet Julia - Sesame Street's first autistic character

Challenging Behaviour

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

Pupil Referral Units

Also of interest


Information on common behaviours

The National Autistic Society website has an area covering common behaviours such as anxiety, obsession and repetition, and tips on minimising difficulties.

Read: Behaviours (NAS)


Meet Julia - Sesame Street's first autistic character

The Children's TV programme Sesame Street introduced its first autistic character called Julia in 2017. The clip of Julia's introduction has received over 3 and a half million views to date. The 10-minute clip offers a simple and engaging introduction to some autistic characteristics.

The clip is particularly useful to introduce children to autism as it's easy to understand and explains certain behaviours as situations arise such as loud sirens causing distress to Julia. As this is Big Bird's first time meeting Julia, the audience is able to follow Big Birds initial impressions and gradually understand more about Julia and her autism. At first, Big Bird feels that Julia doesn't like him because of the way she doesn't immediately answer him, avoids eye contact and a high five and seems reserved. The presenter with the help of Elmo and Abby Cadabby, explains Julia's behaviours, likes and dislikes to help both the audience and Big Bird to get to know more Julia and autism. The episode recognises that with a little bit of understanding Julia, like everyone else showcases her own strengths, traits and personality.


Understanding Behaviour courses by The Puzzle Centre

The Puzzle Centre run an ‘Understanding Behaviour’ course for parents and professionals on managing behaviours. These courses run at least once per year and in some cases can be offered to schools and settings. For more information email or visit


Challenging Behaviour

The National Autistic Society has put together an article covering challenging behaviours some autistic people can display. The article also has general ideas on strategies to try, and information on getting support.

Read: Challenging Behaviour (NAS)


Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

Pathological Demand Avoidance or PDA is a behaviour profile that is sometimes seen in people on the autism spectrum. PDA is not recognised universally as a behaviour profile and is thought to be relatively uncommon. Despite this, there is still plenty of information available. Demand avoidance behaviour is said to stem from an anxiety-based need to be in control. Those with PDA can often be resistant to everyday activities, or usual things that are expected of someone.

Where can I find out more about PDA?

Below are two useful websites to find out more about Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).

National Autistic Society - What is pathological demand avoidance (PDA)?


Pupil Referral Units

There are seven "Pupil Referral Units" or "PRU" in Buckinghamshire. These are establishment maintained by a local authority (Buckinghamshire Council) which is specifically organised to provide education for children who are excluded, sick, or otherwise unable to attend a mainstream or special maintained school.

View PRUs in Buckinghamshire

Related Educational Support 

Ambitious College

London’s first specialist day college for children and young people with complex autism.

Animal Antiks (Aylesbury)

Facility for young people with learning difficulties, special needs, and emotional or behavioural issues. Throughout the week, they provide an environment which is designed to help the young people we work with the opportunity to achieve, grow in self-confidence and esteem, achieve greater independence, alongside improving life, social and functional skills.


Also of Interest

Girls and ASD