Behavioral Crisis

There are times when a loved one may experience a behavioral crisis. Behaviors that can be considered a crisis include any behaviors that are any that are more extreme, violent or non-compliant than his or her typical behaviors. You may see the following leading up to a behavioral crisis:

  • Increased vocalizations, yelling or screaming; 

  • Pacing and fidgeting; 

  • Sleeplessness; 

  • Increased or decreased appetite; 

  • Refusing to adapt to minor schedule changes; 

  • Heightened displays of aggression; and

  • More

Assessing Crisis Situations

You are the expert on your loved one, and know when he or she is unable to keep him or herself, or others around them, safe. Think of the following questions:

  • Is my loved one in control of his or her actions?

  • Can my loved one follow simple instructions and use learned strategies to calm down?

  • Has he or she threatened to hurt him or herself?

  • Have they threatened another family member or pet?

  • Have they destroyed property?

  • Am I or my loved one in immediate danger?

If the answers to many of these questions are yes, your loved one may be experiencing a behavioral crisis. You should seek support immediately. 

What to Do When Your Loved One is in Crisis

Many families ask themselves if they should call 9-1-1 when their loved one experiences a behavioral crisis. It is important for families to understand the severity of the crisis before making the call to emergency services. Below you will find two options on how to respond to behavioral crises, as well as a description of each service and when they are most appropriate.

If you or your loved one are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1

Signs that your or your loved one may be in immediate danger and need to contact 9-1-1-: 

  • Your loved one is aggressive and unable to follow simple directions; 

  • Your loved one is threatening to harm him or herself or another person; and

  • Your loved one is unable to follow simple instructions or requests

If you or your loved one are NOT in immediate danger, contact REACH

The REACH program is the statewide crisis system of care that is designed to meet the crisis support needs of individuals who have a developmental disability and are experiencing crisis events which put them at risk for homelessness, incarceration, hospitalization, and/or danger to self or others.

Additional Resources and Links

Documents, Forms & Manuals



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© 2023 by The Arc of Northern Shenandoah Valley. 

Tel: 540-692-9650


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