Bo Hejlskov Elvén

Bo Hejlskov Elvén

On low arousal approaches


Talks and lectures



My name is Bo Hejlskov Elvén. I am a clinical psychologist based in Scandinavia. I work with guidance and lecturing concerning managing challenging behavior. I am currently a PhD student at HELS, Birmingham City University.

My field is care and special education, mainly concerning children and adults with developmental disabilities such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD or intellectual disabilities. I also work in the psychiatric field and in juvenile correction facilities.

The basis of my methods is developmental neuropsychology, stress and affect theory. The methods are part of an increasing knowledge base in the tradition often named Low Arousal Approach.

The behaviours I work with are acting out such as slapping, kicking, biting and destroying and even self harm. Apart from that my methods are effective in dealing with threats, oppositional and obscene behaviour. The methods focus on changing staff and parent behaviour, not the behaviour of the service-user or child.

My book No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming was published in september 2010 in English and is now available in a number of other languages as well. Check them out at the Book page. In 2017 four of my books were published in English as well: Sulky, Rowdy, Rude?, a book on parenting, Disruptive, Stubborn, Out of Control?, a book inn challenging behaviour in schools,  Confused, Angry, Anxious?, a book on managing challenging behaviour in the care of the elderly, and Frightened, Disturbed, Dangerous?, a book on challenging behaviour in psychiatric care. Sulky, Rowdy, Rude? is published in a number of languages already. Please se if there is a translation into your language at the Book page.

This web site is mirrored and extended in Swedish at

About the diagnosis oppositional defiant disorder, ODD

For some years I have been thinking about how we use certain diagnoses. One of the diagnoses used in very different ways is the diagnosis oppositional defiant disorder, ODD. Often when I ask colleagues why they’ve made the diagnosis I get the reply that the child met the criteria. That’s …

About staff saying: ”What the hell else could I’ve done?”

Sometimes I meet staff who’ve been involved in a situation that didn’t turn out very well. They may have used a restraint like straps or belts or another physical intervention, or perhaps just set a limit they felt wasn’t right afterwards. Perhaps they’ve taken a mobile from a service-user or …

Traffic is dangerous if there’s no structure or you’re sleeping

Sometimes I meet staff who have entered into a heightened safety awareness. They describe the people they work with as being dangerous and are constantly on their guard. They might remove anything that you could hurt yourself with or that might be thrown. I do not deny that people with …

The autism car

There are many different ways to describe autism. Some of the ways we normally use are actually diagnostic criteria, which are not always pedagogically relevant. Therefore, I distinguish between defining symptoms (used in diagnostics) and descriptive symptoms (which provide more information and often are pedagogically relevant to a greater degree). …

On the ethics of autonomy

The american philosopher Martha Nussbaum wrote a wonderful book of great relevance in psychiatry, care and education. It´s called Frontiers of Justice. In it she claims that all care concerning people with disabilities is centered around the limitation of people´s autonomy. We limit people´s autonomy when we decide they should brush …