Youre Their Parent Not Their Buddy
It may be tempting to treat your kids like theyre your best friend. But kids need you to lead and teach them as they grow. Disciplining your child and setting limits will instill confidence as they learn to navigate through life.
With discipline, were not passive observers suddenly required to react. Were actively involved as teachers, says Dr. Gaydos. Its an ongoing process and requires work.
But disciplining will pay dividends as you watch your youngster grow, become more confident and develop a good moral compass.
Dont Stop Trying To Include Us
Autistic children, their siblings, and their parents are simply people, and people like to feel as if they are a part of a community. Though spending the day with a child on the Autism Spectrum may come with a few additional challenges, continue to spend time with them. Ask families to come to the Sunday BBQ, ask questions to better understand, and invite the parents out for dinner and an evening away. If they say no, ask again next time.
Use Praises And Rewards For Appropriate Behaviour
An autistic child responds better to positive forms of discipline, including the reward system. To make this system effective, choose a visual tool such as the old sticker chart and set the specific number of stickers your child should have to earn the item they want.
These stickers could be anything from your childs favourite cartoon character to an action figure. Give the child a sticker for each day they behave well or complete any duties assigned to them. To reinforce positive behaviour, shower them with a lot of praise. Descriptive praise is preferred since it points out the exact behaviour you are praising the child for.
In case your child has challenges responding to praise, add something that will enable them to link positive words with what they enjoy doing.
Change A Childs Behavior By Changing Yours
I am strong-willed as well, so it has been a battle of the wills. But instead of trying to change my daughter, I changed myself. It wasnt easy, but when she became defiant, I said to myself, I will not buy a ticket to this show. I ignored her, no matter how she tried to pull me in. She stopped almost immediately. -Ramona, Florida
The treatment of choice for ODD is parent management training. Parents are taught to change their reactions to a childs behavior good and bad. Training involves using carrots and sticks giving well-defined rewards and praise when your child cooperates, and consequences for misbehavior. Therapists will also work with a parent and child together to solve specific challenges.
Focus On Behaviors And Actions
When the need for discipline arises, its important to focus on the behavior and actions that precipitated the need. Your child needs to know the reason for the discipline and understand that it is not to punish them for being them but to correct a specific behavior. Its important for you to remember that your child is acting out for a reason perhaps to gain attention, get an object they want, or attempting to avoid a distressing situation and it has little to do with you or who they are as a person.
Believe In Your Childs Abilities
If you want your child to grow up in a healthy environment despite this condition, you have to show him the support that he needs. Believe in his abilities to do the simple stuff. This way, he will learn to value your opinion and adhere to your requests every time you tell him to do something.
What is important here is that you can show support in whenever he wants to do. Doing this will allow you to have a rapport with your child which will be useful for establishing discipline down the line.
Should You Discipline An Autistic Childthe Debate
There has been much debate regarding the topic of autism and discipline. After all, crying, tantrums and flapping may be the autistic childs way of communicating that he isnt happy about something. Yet, should the child be allowed to display these behaviors at any given time in any kind of setting?
Children On The Autism Spectrum Are Not Dumb
Kids with autism have the potential to be absolutely brilliant. Theyre also talented, philosophical, kind, and creative. This is something much of society fails to see, but in truth, the autistic mind is simply wired differently than those not on the Autism Spectrum. Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mozart, and Sir Isaac Newton all are said to have exhibited autistic tendencies.
Understanding High Functioning Autism
As you are probably of, there are different degrees of Autistic behaviors. The degrees of these behaviors are studied in a spectrum, from the mildest to the most severe. High functioning autism is a type of autismthat borders heavily along with non-existent communication and social interaction.
To fully grasp the means of dealing with children that fall into this part of the spectrum, a concise overview of the condition is pertinent. This type of autism is also referred to as Aspergers syndrome.
Autism as a broad concept refers to individuals who suffer from an inability to communicate and make social interactions. The distinctive trait of individuals of kids that suffer from high functioning autism is the high intelligence and excellent verbal aptitude.
Essentially, these individuals are capable of highly intelligent thoughts , speaking, and logical thoughts.
However, they have difficulties establishing communication or forming a bond. Therefore, while children on the other end of the spectrum may not possess any exceptional potential intelligence and verbalskills, high-functioning autistic children do not.
They Are Often Very Sensitive To Emotions
Emotional sensitivity is quite common to several conditions across the autism spectrum. Kids with high-functioning autism are susceptible to slight reactions. These kids also have a problem controlling their emotions, and in extreme cases, they require high-level therapy to keep the effects of emotional roller-coasters in check. For instance, a high-functioning autistic kid may get irritable because his favorite TV show is not hosting on certain days. They are predisposed to more intense emotional reactions in the face of frustrating situations.
How To Discipline A High Functioning Autistic Child
Having understood the distinct traits associated with high functioning autism in children, here are some methods of dealing with them. Before that, it is important to state that the reward system may not always work with these kids. Sometimes, parents need to be assertive and firm enough to make the children learn consequences.
Despite that, you have to be careful not to trigger severe withdrawal and emotional trauma in these kids . So how do you deal with that? Let us find out.
Be sure to distinguish between tantrums and the actual sign of autism This is the very first step you should take. That doesnt mean it is easy, though. First, you have to be careful to recognize when your child is just silly and when they are showing signs of autism. True, the child is autistic, but deep down, they are still a child.
Go one at a time You must remember that you can correct everything at once; that is unrealistic. To effectively discipline a high-functioning autistic child, you have to recognize and highlight their quirks, misdeeds, and imperfections. You should then proceed to handle them one at a time. Trying to solve all the problems at once can create an emotional disconnection between you and the child. It would look like you are against the kid; therefore, be careful.
Also, explain why he can do certain things and why he cannot do others. The clearer the expectations, the easier it is for high-functioning autistic children to meet them.
Get Everyone On The Same Page
Both parents need to support each other and be on the same page. -An ADDitude Reader
For behavior therapy to work, all of the caring adults in the child’s life should use the same discipline strategies that you do. Grandparents, teachers, nannies, and other adults who spend time alone with your child with oppositional defiant disorder must understand which carrots and sticks you use and, above all, use them consistently. If one of them gives into your childs bad behavior, it can undermine your discipline program.
Listen To The Parents
Just as you surround a child with autism with acceptance, do the same for parents. Your support could mean the world to them.
Advocates explain that parents would love a night off to decompress and get away. If you feel comfortable with the idea, offer to babysit. If you don’t, provide a listening ear to a parent in need. Schedule a regular coffee date for decompression and chatter, or set up play dates between your children while you both supervise.
Dont Wait For A Diagnosis
As the parent of a child with ASD or related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect somethings wrong. Dont wait to see if your child will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Dont even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier children with autism spectrum disorder get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your childs development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
When your child has autism
Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped youll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.
Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kids challenging or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, youll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.
Dont give up. Its impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Dont jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
Praise And Rewards For Appropriate Behaviour
Praise is when you tell your child what you like about their behaviour. When your child gets praise for behaving well, your child is likely to want to keep behaving well.
Descriptive praise is when you tell your child exactly what it is that youre praising. Descriptive praise is best for encouraging good behaviour for example, Thank you for staying calm when you didnt win the game.
Many autistic children like praise and want to behave well to get more praise. But some autistic children dont respond to praise. If your child tends to withdraw from other people, your child might not be motivated to do things to please others. Or if your child has limited language, your child might not understand the positive words youre using.
You can help your autistic child learn to respond to praise. At first you might need to add something to help your child link positive words with things your child likes. This could be something to play with or an activity. After a while, your child might eventually enjoy the praise on its own.
What Do Tantrums Look Like
Tantrums differ from one child to another. They can be spectacular explosions of anger.
The child may lose it with frustration and disorganized behavior.
During tantrums , the child may cry, stiffen up, scream, kick things around, fall down or run away. Some children hold their breath, and some even vomit.
They may break things around the house. Children with autism could get aggressive when they are throwing a tantrum fit.
This is how autistic children may express their frustration with the challenges that they are facing.
Thirst , hunger, tiredness: Some examples that can lead to tantrums.
When they get frustrated, they get angry. And when they get angry, they can throw a tantrum.
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Understanding Common Autistic Behaviors
We usually discipline children because they consciously act in inappropriate ways, whether it’s swiping treats off a sibling’s plate or intentionally tripping a child on the soccer field. However, a child with autism may not be able to control certain behaviors, and it’s important that they are not harshly punished for them. Some behaviors that children with autism may struggle to control include:
- Biting their hands and fingers
- Hand flapping or rocking
- Screaming or yelling
- Hurting themselves by banging or hitting their heads
- Not looking at people or making eye contact
- Physical aggression toward peers and grown-ups, like biting or kicking
Many of these behaviors stem from children’s struggles to express their needs or desires or understand social norms and cues. You shouldnt place your child in time-out, shame them, or spank them because of these behaviors. Rather, it’s important you work to better understand why they are acting out in this way and, if necessary, try to avoid those triggers in the future.
Tip 2: Find Nonverbal Ways To Connect
Connecting with a child with ASD can be challenging, but you dont need to talkor even touchin order to communicate and bond. You communicate by the way you look at your child, by the tone of your voice, your body language and possibly the way you touch your child. Your child is also communicating with you, even if he or she never speaks. You just need to learn the language.
Look for nonverbal cues. If you are observant and aware, you can learn to pick up on the nonverbal cues that children with ASD use to communicate. Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make, their facial expressions, and the gestures they use when theyre tired, hungry, or want something.
Figure out the motivation behind the tantrum. Its only natural to feel upset when you are misunderstood or ignored, and its no different for children with ASD. When children with ASD act out, its often because youre not picking up on their nonverbal cues. Throwing a tantrum is their way of communicating their frustration and getting your attention.
Dont Insist On Eye Contact
Adults look one another in the eye when they speak. For children with autism, this is a difficult task. Some children learn to look near your eyes through practice, but some never pick up this skill.
Never force a child to look into your eyes. Dont bow down to try to meet the childs eyes, and dont point to your own eyes to make the child follow along. Accept the childs behavior.
How Do I Discipline A Child With Autism And Adhd
Children with autism respond to clear, short directives in the moment. Help set them up for success by praising desired behaviors, establishing regular routines, and avoiding tantrum-triggering environments. These techniques, which avoid harsh discipline, work well with children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , tooand all kids, generally.
My Kid Works Harder Than Any Other Child Her Age
As already mentioned, we do not live in a society that is accommodating to people on the Autism Spectrum. This means that an autistic kid has to work much, much harder to function just about anywhere they go. Behind that hard-working kid are parents, teachers, and therapists who are also working hard to help that child. An autistic child acting like their neurotypical peers has not been cured. Hes simply working 100 times harder to keep up, and thats something we should all keep in mind.
How To Treat A Child With Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Treatment strategies for co-existing ODD and ADHD start with controlling ADHD symptoms. When a childs hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention are reduced, there is usually an improvement in ODD symptoms. Stimulant medications have been shown to decrease ADHD symptoms, as well as those of ODD, by up to 50 percent.
They May Suffer Sensory Difficulties
of course; autism is a neurological and mental condition. Due to alteration of the anatomy of specific nerves of their body, these kids may have difficulty processing certain stimuli like pain and pressure. These kids also feel very uneasy at certain tastes, smells, or sounds. For instance, a child with high functioning autism may intensely dislike certain kinds of music.
What Is Negative Reinforcement
Negative reinforcement should not be confused with punishment. A parent can use negative reinforcement to shape behavior, and the approach uses an undesirable task to achieve results. For example, a child may dislike doing puzzles. Parent can encourage compliant behavior by cutting a puzzle activity short after the child follows directions without whining.The target behavior is following directions and the negative behavior is whining. The child learns that he is able to finish the task immediately once she stops whining. Otherwise, the activity continues.
Why Are Rules And Discipline Important For Autistic Children
As adults, societys rules are important because they guide us in our everyday lives. Our ability to interact with others is more effective when were aware of our actions in relation to others; it renders us sensitive to how others may perceive us.
It is important to teach children with autism rules because, without them, their experience of the world can be more stressful and anxiety-provoking. Children with autism spectrum disorder perceive the world differently, their perception of the world can be a scary experience; therefore, by teaching them rules and enforcing discipline, they develop greater understanding of how the world around them works, and can therefore become more adaptive. Understanding lifes rules also provides a sense of independence as your child grows up as he/she can understand what is expected by society and various social situations.
Research has shown that children with ASD face challenges forming connections with facial cues and more obvious/salient cues. Many children on the autism spectrum also find it difficult to learn, apply, and be flexible to abstract rules.
How To Discipline A Child With Autism
An autism diagnosis is not an excuse for bad behavior, and parents can keep their expectations high for their children on the spectrum. Autistic children may have challenging behaviors, and it is important to recognize their behaviors are like those of any other child, only magnified. In addition, many children on the spectrum are unable to make connections between actions and consequences.
Punishment is ineffective because the child may not make a connection between the consequence and the negative behavior. How can a child who has trouble understanding cause-and-effect be disciplined? Focus on what the child should do rather than what he shouldn’t do.
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.
Not All Autism Is The Same And Neither Is Every Child With Autism
Its called the Autism Spectrum because autism actually covers a wide scope of complex disorders in brain development. Included are Aspergers Syndrome, classic autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, among others. The types of autism range in everything from communication skills, anxiety, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors, among other things. As with any kid, a child with autism should be treated as an individual with his or her own set of abilities and preferences.
Managing The Misbehavior Of Autistic Children
Knowing how to discipline a child with mild autism as well as more serious autism is understanding how to manage their misbehavior. One approach is to make rules and have consequences for breaking them. For this approach to work, parents need to follow certain guidelines:
- Rules must be extremely clear with no room for interpretation. Children with autism are literal, black-and-white thinkers. Stating, Dont jump on the couch, means that they can jump on anything else.
- Consequences also must be clear and used consistently, every time a rule is broken.
Positive reinforcement is a highly recommended form of discipline for children on the autism spectrum This type of discipline teaches children to understand what behaviors are desirable and encourages them to do more of it.
Build on positive behaviors kids already use. When you catch them being good, reinforce the behavior with praise. Token boards add a visual, concrete element to positive reinforcement. The board sports a picture of a reward the child wants to earn and has pouches for kids to place little tokens you give them for positive behavior. When theyve earned enough tokens, they receive the reward.
How Discipline Helps Children With Autism
There are many children who misbehave at some point in their life. There perform many abnormal activities like hitting another child, grabbing a toy that is not meant for them.
In such situations, most parents and teachers respond with consequences like time outs or TV privileges loss, etc.
As a result, children learn that their behaviors are abnormal and unacceptable. They also learn that if they control their impulses, then it can have positive outcomes.
However, when a normal child would receive a timeout for something done by an autistic child. Instead of a consequence, the later gets a pass, and that too with a comment such as thats ok, I understand.
When the same thing happens to a child who can understand the rules of behavior, he learns that the rules are not at all applicable to him.
When it comes to the next time, he repeats the behavior expecting the same outcome and this continues.
Im Not An Autism Expert
If you want to learn more about autism and what its like to be autistic, there is one reliable source: a person on the Autism Spectrum. Parents of autistic children can tell you what it is like to live with a person on the Spectrum. They are experts on their own child. But the only person who can tell you what its like to live with autism is an autistic person himself.
Techniques To Help Discipline Your Autistic Child
All children need consistent rules, clear structure, and discipline in order to thrive, and children with autism are no exception. Although traditional discipline techniques may not work for autistic children, that doesnt mean you shouldnt discipline them. Disciplining an autistic child has many benefits like:
- Helping them understand what behaviors are appropriate in certain situations.
- Developing the ability to get along with others.
- Helping them understand, express, and deal with their feelings.
Teach Them Coping Strategies Once Theyre Calm
There isnt much we can do during a meltdown as far as trying to teach our children coping tools, but when theyre in a peaceful and rested frame of mind, we can definitely work on emotional regulation together.
My son responds really well to nature walks, practicing yoga daily , and deep breathing.
These coping strategies will help them calm down perhaps before a meltdown even when you arent around.
Empathy is at the heart of all of these steps to dealing with an autistic meltdown.
When we look at our childs behavior as a form of communication, it helps us view them as struggling instead of being defiant.
The word defiance can drop from our meltdown vocabulary entirely, replaced by empathy and compassion. And by showing our children compassion, we can more effectively support them through their meltdowns.