Should I Discipline My Child With Autism
The most important thing to remember here is that discipline is not about physically punishing your child, but helping them develop into a healthy, respectful adult. Early intervention can achieve incredible results. When you provide your child with the tools and support they need to choose more preferred behaviors, this will allow themto become more independent later in life.
Positive parenting with positive discipline teaches all children, including those with autism, to become resourceful and responsible. In the process, you will promote a more secure parent-child attachment and protect your childs mental health.
When debating whether you should or should not discipline your child with autism, focus more on your approach and less on the disciplinary mentality. Remember, guiding your child towards more optimal behaviors is a loving thing to do the key is how you do that.
A Temper Tantrum Is Not An Autism Meltdown
A temper tantrum usually occurs when a child is denied what they want to have or what they want to do.
Parents observe many tantrums during the terrible twos. This occurs when young children are developing problem-solving skills and beginning to assert their independence.
In fact, this terrible twos stage is typically experienced between 12 months through 4 years old!
When you look at why temper tantrums occur at this stage, it is important to consider typical development and why toddlers are so easily frustrated:
- Emerging desire to become independent, but limited motor skills and cognitive skills make it impossible to actually BE independent.
- Emerging, developing language skills make communicating wants/needs frustrating.
- The prefrontal cortex of the brain has not yet developed – this is the brain center responsible for emotional regulation and social behavior – so they do not have the ability to regulate!
- Toddlers are developing an understanding of their world, and its often anxiety-producing. This anxiety and lack of control often result in tantrums when it all gets to be too much to manage.
A hallmark of a tantrum is that the behavior will usually persist if the child gains attention for his behavior, but will subside when ignored.
When parents give in to tantrum outbursts, children are more likely to repeat the behavior the next time they are denied what they want or need.
Strategies For Disciplining Autistic Children
When disciplining problem behaviors, it is always important to consider what your child is trying to communicate through that behavior this especially is important for children with autism who are non-verbal. Not every behavior is meant to challenge power, or cause anguish, some behaviors are simply a way of screaming: listen to me!
Here are some discipline ideas to consider at home:
Some children with autism might enforce an unwanted behavior to get your attention
- if this is the case ignore their behavior. Your child may feed into your susceptibilities which makes him/her want to continue doing it because he/she will get a reaction out of you
Understand your childs physiological needs
- Many children with autism are sensitive to sensory input some can be overstimulated/hyper-reactive to sensory input and others can be understimulated/hypo-reactive to sensory input. His/her behavior as a result can become somewhat aggressive in effort to feed into their sensory needs your childs needs could be the cause of the negative behavior. In these situations, it might be better to consider what sensory stimuli is causing the behavior and change the environment rather than enforce discipline
Change your mindset during the behavior
- This is especially challenging when youre in the moment and possibly dealing with your own stress. However, for the best interest of your child, patience is important to understanding your childs needs
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It’s Unfair To Discipline A Child With Special Needs
Of course, it is unfair to discipline a child for something he cannot avoid. So, for example, scolding a child with autism for “stimming” or making noise may well be unreasonable. These are behaviors that are part and parcel of being autistic, and it may be nearly impossible for the child to simply “extinguish” those behaviors.
It is not only fair but necessary to teach a child with autism that intentional misbehavior is unacceptable. Allowing such behaviors to continue because a child is “special” creates a new whole raft of behavioral and social problems.
Distract And Divert Their Attention
Our instinct as parents is to scoop up our child and move them away from whatever potentially dangerous object theyre headed toward. But that can trigger a tantrum because you are removing them from the thing they wanted. If they are headed into danger, such as a busy street, then thats OK. All 2-year-olds are going to have some tantrums on their way to learning what they can and cannot do not every tantrum can be prevented.
Another method when safety is not at stake is to distract and divert. Call their name to grab their attention. Once theyre fixated on you, call them over to you and show them something else theyll like that is safe.
This can also work before a tantrum starts to distract them from what theyre becoming upset about in the first place.
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Place Your Child In Time
Time-out is a helpful consequence, especially if your child spits out of anger. Place them in a quiet area for one minute for each year of their age. This can help them learn how to calm down when they’re upset. It best to teach your child how to do this by repeatedly, calmly showing them strategies such as belly breathing, muscle tension and relaxation, visual imagery, drawing, etc.
Two Words: Gentle Consistency
Children with autism pick up on things differently than other children. For example, your child may not pick up on the irritation in your voice when you ask them not to do something.
These misunderstandings can make traditional discipline techniques less effective. Your child might not understand the consequences of their actions, which can be frustrating. However, you should refrain from any kind of physical or verbal punishment that could have a negative effect on your child.
Instead, be gentle with your words and actions. If your child is screaming and having a tantrum, keep calm and dont raise your voice. All children learn through imitation, so try and respond to your childs behavior clearly and gently.
And now for consistency. Consistency is the key to safe, effective discipline. Most children with autism respond well to structured discipline, perhaps due to their desire for sameness and routine.
Consistent discipline can also alleviate some of your childs anxiety, a common characteristic of autism. Consistent outcomes help children feel secure and confident in their choices.
If your child knows what to expect from a certain behavior , they may not feel as overwhelmed when you discipline them.
In other words, consistency gives your child the ability to predict the outcome of a situation, which is a powerful and necessary step toward independence.
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Clear Rules About Behaviour
Rules are positive statements that let children know how theyre expected to behave and what your family limits are.
The rule might be that your child cant play in the morning until theyre ready for school for example, First get ready, then have playtime. You could use a visual support like a timer to show your child how long there is until you need to leave for school. When your child has finished getting ready, they can play for the time left on the timer. If the timer has finished, theres no time to play.
Using Aba Principles To Discipline
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy offers some techniques to adapt behavior from unwanted behavior to preferred behavior that translates into our everyday lives. ABA focuses on the why and the how aspects of behavior to implement an intervention the why refers to the cause of the behavior and the how refers to the tools that can effectively be used to change the unwanted behavior to a preferred behavior.
The ABC in ABA is the foundation to applying ABA for disciplining your child with autism. The acronym stands for: Antecedent Behavior, Consequence. The antecedent is the event that occurs before the behavior, the behavior is the observable action, and the consequence is what happens with the child as a result of the event. Once you have a clear understanding of the cause of the behavior , it is much easier to predict the consequence after the behavior.
Using the principles of ABC, as a parent, youre in a better place to respond to situations and teach a preferred response before they even occur so that in the event a challenge does occur the child is better adapted to respond accordingly.
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Ways To Handle Violent Autistic Behaviour
Responding to violent autistic behavior in toddlers and children requires significant parental considerations. Interspersions, not intensities will worsen the behavior further for the child. For example, lets take Adam, who likes hit the child next to him in school because he likes to hear the other childs reactionHe hit me! Or, lets talk about Sophie who, out of jealousy, throws her classmates stationaries off the table and on the ground.
For children with high functioning or borderline autism, it is often the attention they get from being difficult that keeps children into the habit. For parents, the time to act is now! If you dont intervene today, the problem would only grow, not to mention that there can be another child victimized tomorrow.
While many of you may have taken temporary measures to alleviate this problem, unless you have a longer-term autistic behavior control strategy in place, the child might end up hurting several others and in worst cases, him/herself.
How To Discipline A Child On The Autism Spectrum
The purpose of discipline is to set healthy boundaries and clear expectations of appropriate behavior, not to punish or embarrass your child.
While there are certainly challenges to disciplining a child on the autism spectrum, discipline instills valuable lessons that the child will take with them their whole lives. Keep reading to learn safe, effective, and compassionate strategies for how to discipline a child on the autism spectrum.
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Activity Maze Books Word Searches And Eye Spy Puzzles
Children with autism enjoy solving puzzles and in actual fact, they seem to be brilliant at it. Make sure that you always have a few on hand as different types of puzzles, maze books, word searches, and problem-solving type activity books are a lot of fun and they can be used to teach kids about almost anything with ease. They also help with the coordination of their hands as well as their visual-perceptual skills.
Help During A Meltdown
We tend to expect a lot from children with autism. They thrive in environments that are calm, familiar, and supportive. But we often ask them to succeed in grocery stores, airports, and classrooms.
When children with autism are overwhelmed, they can experience meltdowns. Meltdowns can involve:
- Withdrawal. The child retreats to an inner world and stops talking altogether. The child may perform repetitive actions like rocking or hand flapping to self-soothe.
- Tantrums. The child cries, screams, stomps their feet, or curls into a ball.
Parents often become adept at dealing with these episodes, but always ask if you can help. You could ask a restaurant to turn down the music, for example, while a mother attempts to calm her child.
You can also intervene directly. Experts suggest using a gentle voice and simple commands. Tell the child, Get up, and stand next to me. If the child cant respond, stay nearby and let the meltdown work through. When the child seems calmer, try the instructions.
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How Is Nonspeaking Autism Diagnosed
Diagnosing nonspeaking autism is a multiphase process.
A pediatrician may be the first healthcare professional to screen a child for ASD. Parents, seeing unexpected symptoms such as a lack of speaking, may bring their concerns to their childs doctor.
The medical professional may request a variety of tests that could help rule out other possible causes. These include:
Some pediatricians may refer children to a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. These doctors specialize in treating conditions such as autism.
This medical professional may request additional tests and reports, which could include:
- a full medical history for the child and parents
- a review of the mothers pregnancy and any complications or issues that arose during it
- a breakdown of surgeries, hospitalizations, or medical treatments the child has had since birth
Finally, autism-specific tests may be used to confirm a diagnosis. Several tests, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition and the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale, Third Edition , can be used with nonspeaking children.
These tests help healthcare professionals determine if a child meets the criteria for autism.
Why Adults Avoid Disciplining Autistic Children
Most adults who give a pass to bad behavior in autistic children are doing so out of the kindness of their hearts. They may believe that the child is incapable of better behavior. They may believe that the consequences will cause some sort of emotional damage.
Or they may believe that the child with autism will lash out if confronted with disapproval. Whatever their reasons, however, adults who choose not to offer structure and discipline to children with autism are doing those children a disservice.
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Strategies For How To Discipline A Child With Autism
Discipline is defined as a means of training people to observe certain rules or behaviour codes using punishment to correct disobedience. This implies that discipline can only be achieved through punishment, a notion that most behavioural analysts disagree with, especially when dealing with children.
Instead of using traditional discipline techniques such as spanking , time outs, threats, yelling, or other verbal reprimands, adopt a more positive approach. Correct your children by showing them what is acceptable, whats not acceptable, and why. For many parents, how to discipline a child correctly still remains a difficult task.
For those with autistic children, it is an even bigger issue. Your child care strategy becomes a balancing act between discipline and respect. Here are seven of the best strategies for how to discipline a child with autism:
Children With Autism Don’t Understand The Consequences
It is critical to design consequences so that they fit the child and the situation. It may be tough for a child with autism to understand or comply with a “timeout,” but that same child may be quite capable of understanding and complying with time away from video games.
Consequences often differ for children with autism. For instance, grounding may not be a meaningful consequence for a child who prefers time alone, whereas a short break from television may get the point across quickly.
Bottom line, every child deserves the respect and support represented by clear structure, consistent rules, and discipline. These tools, along with some flexibility, patience, and imagination, can help a child with autism to understand his world and feel safe and confident as he grows up.
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A Parents Guide To Autism Treatment And Support
If youve recently learned that your child has or might have autism spectrum disorder, youre probably wondering and worrying about what comes next. No parent is ever prepared to hear that a child is anything other than happy and healthy, and an ASD diagnosis can be particularly frightening. You may be unsure about how to best help your child, or confused by conflicting treatment advice. Or you may have been told that ASD is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving you concerned that nothing you do will make a difference.
While it is true that ASD is not something a person simply grows out of, there are many treatments that can help children acquire new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. From free government services to in-home behavioral therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your childs special needs and help them learn, grow, and thrive in life.
When youre looking after a child with ASD, its also important to take care of yourself. Being emotionally strong allows you to be the best parent you can be to your child in need. These parenting tips can help by making life with an autistic child easier.
Tips For Parents Of Kids With Asd
When a child misbehaves, whether its throwing objects, having a tantrum, hurting someone or themselves, they should get some form of punishment. All children need to be disciplined, especially in dangerous situations, such as running into the road. Parents often wonder how to discipline their autistic children. How do you punish an autistic child who may not understand what is happening to them? What about physical punishment, does that work? Heres what parents need to consider when disciplining their autistic child.
The point of discipline is helping your child learn how to behave appropriately in different situations. It is about helping your child understand how to behave and how not to behave. Discipline strategies need to be positive, not negative. Talking and listening play a significant role in discipline training, which is difficult for some children.
Discipline helps children:
- understand what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate,
- develop skills to get along well with others,
- learn to understand, manage, and express their feelings.
- Discipline works best when you have a loving relationship with your child.
Did You Know?
Autism and Discipline
Other reasons for self-harm may include:
- Painful medical issues such as a headache or toothache causing hitting to disguise the pain,
- Acting out to avoid a distressing situation,
- Trying to gain the attention of someone,
- Getting an object, they want and,
- Imitating physical behavior, he was taught.
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