Some Children Thrive When Given Structured Hands
Many children I have worked with or have observed, did very well when given a hands-on/visual activity. Examples include playing a computer game, sorting objects by color or object type completing a puzzle, constructing a model car, tracing or coloring in a picture, etc. As another example, some teachers of children with autism teach academic skills through sorting tasks. For instance, an activity about learning colors would require the child to put all the yellow chips in a yellow cup, all the blue chips in a blue cup, etc. Keeping a child focused with an activity they do well at is a great way to encourage calm behavior. However, if the child is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated from the activity, allow a break or a change in the task.
Autism Puberty And Behavior
The symptoms of autism can be difficult enough to work with. Puberty brings with it many additional challenges for both parents and their children. Beginning around the age of nine, the body triggers hormones to begin puberty. By the age of fourteen a noticeable change in behavior is happening.
If your child, like mine, has been going along peacefully, but suddenly becomes incredibly difficult to deal with, more aggressive, angry, moody, and loses all motivation, it is likely due to hormonal changes affecting his brain.
The Female Hormonal Cycle and How It Affects Us
From puberty on, estrogen sets up the cycles in the female brain such as sleep, mood, body temperature, and even breathing. We are more relaxed in the first two weeks of our cycle, and have greater social and verbal abilities. Around day fourteen, progesterone begins affecting the brains circuitry and girls become more irritable, have less ability to focus, and slow down. Progesterone plummets during the last few days of the menstrual cycle and females can become stressed, aggressive and even hostile right before their period begins. Low progesterone causes lack of energy.
The Effects of Male Hormones
Supplements to Assist Behavior
Vagus Signaling Control Elixir is excellent for calming anxious feelings.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The Livers Effect on Hormones
Know that youre not alone!
Aba & Managing Aggression
Applied behavior analysis therapists are very often asked how to address aggressive behavior in autistic clients. Because violent behavior can spiral out of control so quickly, and can put the client and caregivers in harms way, this is often a top priority for teachers and ABA practitioners.
Even outside of autism treatment, ABA therapy is a popular choice for treating hostile behavior in clients. As far back as 1999, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis wrote that ABA proved effective in using variable and delayed reinforcement techniques to help control aggressive and impulsive behavior.
In 2011, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reported that therapy programs that combine ABA and medications have shown effectiveness in treating clients who have displayed violent or aggressive behavior.
ABA therapy to manage aggression in children with autism cannot work in a vacuum. It needs to be supported with continuous involvement from parents, caregivers, and teachers, all working in tandem to provide feedback and support to the child.
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Handling A Lack Of Responsiveness
How Can I Reduce Aggressive Behaviors In My Child With Autism
There are a variety of methods and checklists that parents and caregivers can use to help understand what a child might want to help reduce aggression and attention-seeking behavior.
The first thing a parent or caregiver can do is to find the source of the aggression. If it is something in his/her learning environment, you can make adaptations and modifications to make their environment more sensory-friendly. Knowing what triggers your child and using prevention methods to avoid environmental triggers can also help reduce behavioral problems.
ABA therapy is another effective option that studies have found to be effective in reducing symptoms of autism and anger by using positive reinforcement to change behaviors in a child.
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Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy
Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most common behavioral interventions for children with autism. This therapy rests on the concept that all behaviors are performed for some sort of purpose.
The first part of ABA is a functional behavior assessment, which tries to understand why a child carries out a certain behavior. In this case, the ABA therapist would look for the reason a patient shows aggression. The functional behavior assessment may include a caregiver questionnaire, direct observation of the patient, or even experiments in which the events that precede and follow a behavior are manipulated.
Next, the ABA therapist puts together a reinforcement strategy. Reinforcers are good consequences that motivate the child to perform a behavior again. There are a few different types of reinforcement strategies in ABA, from positive reinforcement to natural reinforcement to differential reinforcement.
Some autism research shows that differential reinforcement is highly effective when treating violence in children on the spectrum. This strategy involves providing reinforcement when the problem behavior is not performed. It contains some different subtypes:
- Reinforcement whenever the problem behavior is absent
- Reinforcement when the child performs a behavior thats incompatible with the problem behavior
- Reinforcement when they perform an alternate, appropriate behavior that fulfills the same purpose as the problem behavior
S To Deal With Aggression In Autistic Children
If youre dealing with aggression from your Autistic child, it can be easy to feel completely defeated.
Traditional parenting strategies arent working.
You know that your childs aggression isnt their fault, but youre also getting concerned about the safety of your other kids or those your child is hurting.
Not to mention worrying about what the future looks like for your Autistic child if you cant get the aggression out of control.
A few years ago my son was struggling with aggression during his meltdowns. Anyone near him would get a headbutt as hard as he possibly could.
At first, I was at a complete loss for how to handle it
Then I found a way that kept everyone in our family safe, respected my Autistic child for who he was, and made sure his needs were being met.
And that 5 step process to handle aggression in Autistic children is exactly what Im sharing with you today.
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How To Deal With A Meltdown
As no two kids with ASD are the same, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy on how to handle meltdowns. Not all meltdown strategies are guaranteed to work on every child on the spectrum. However, there are some general techniques that can be customized to your childs behavior and personality.
The best way to prevent your child from having a meltdown is to predict and avoid triggers. This can be avoiding crowds, establishing a set routine, and planning ahead.
However, when a meltdown is already happening, you can try the following approach:
- Leave the room or location to help your child calm down
- Use calming devices like a fidget toy, noise-canceling headphones, or a weighted vest
- Choose a good time when your child is receptive to learning and teach breathing exercises, meditation, and counting from one to ten
- Prevent injuries to your child or others during a meltdown by being in a safe place
- Keep yourself calm as your child can feel your frustration and worsen the meltdown
- Keep your face and voice neutral and be at arms length in case the child reaches out
- Children who are in a meltdown cant be reasoned with so dont rely on logic
Discouraging Cursing And Other Interfering Behaviors
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How To Prevent Meltdowns
For parents, dealing with ASD meltdowns can be exhausting. Preventing them can be a better strategy than trying to respond to them.
Sometimes you can use the information you know about the child to avoid common triggers:
- Know the childs sensory sensitivities such loud noises, bright lights, or strong smells
- Know the daily routine such as reading a story before bedtime, eating a certain food for breakfast
- Know the childs favorite things/places such a dinosaur toy, favorite blanket, a specific shop/store
Once you have these pieces of information, it will be easier to identify meltdown triggers and avoid them as much as possible.
For instance, if your child does not like a specific sensory input like bright lights, but you are in a public place where there are bright lights, try to redirect your child to avoid this area.
It might be necessary to improvise if you can not avoid a meltdown trigger. If you need to skip breakfast because you need to leave early for a trip, pack the childs breakfast so he/she can still eat it on the way.
Averting a meltdown may not be possible at all times, but here are a few ways to try to prevent them:
Acknowledge Your Child Or Students For Complying With Your Requests
For instance, if your child is using a loud voice in the movie theater and you say, whisper in the theater, praise the child with a comment such as nice job whispering, or thank you for being respectful in the theater. For children who understand language well, situations like this are a good time to teach about other peoples perspectives .
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Acknowledge Your Childs Emotions
Instead of telling your child to stop crying, you can let him/her know that you understand his/her feelings. You can validate feelings without giving in. For example, saying something like, I know youre upset that you cant have that toy, but we cant buy it right now. Maybe next time. This lets your child know that you feel bad that he/she feels bad, but there is nothing you can dofor now.
If The Child Seems Over Stimulated From Sensory Input Such As In A Large Crowd Bring Him To A Quieter Place To De
Be mindful of situations where your child might feel overwhelmed before you take him there .
There are also strategies to create an environment that helps a child with autism feel less overwhelmed by sensory input. See How to Set Up the Classroom for Children with Autism and ADHD which includes strategies that can be used at home as well.
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Start Here: Talk To A Doctor
Is your child snapping fingers due to autism or OCD? Would medication help? Is something else wrong? When your child is engaging in confusing activity, you’re filled with questions. Your child’s doctor can offer answers.
Experts explain that tests used to evaluate anxiety and OCD were made with neurotypical children in mind. Sometimes, doctors must be creative to assess the children sitting in their offices. With dozens of tests to choose from, including some that work with nonverbal children, experts can determine what motivates your child to act.
Treatment paths differ depending on your child’s diagnosis. If your child has:
- Autism only, therapy aims to make the behaviors palatable to the outside world, without eliminating them altogether.
- Autism with OCD, therapy aims to address the disruptive thoughts, so the child isn’t compelled to take action with unusual behaviors.
As a parent, it’s critical to ensure that your child keeps all therapy appointments. You may have homework to complete between sessions to ensure that your child stays on track. Stick with it, and you could see public outbursts lessen in frequency.
Gut Flora And Sensory Integration:
Our intestines are home to hundreds of trillions of microbes. This ecosystem is called the microbiome and is made up of yeasts, bacteria and viruses. The Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health, has shown that the gut flora, the microbiome, governs everything from brain function, development, immunity, autoimmunity, detoxification and inflammation. The reality is that while we have always thought the brain was in charge, it is whoever is in charge in the gut that governs the bodys biochemistry and physiology. In autism, there are alterations in the microbiome that cause digestive problems in addition to a myriad of changes in cell function. In the autistic gut, overgrowth of yeast and clostridia causes autistic behaviours.
This is why dietary intervention is so important and so helpful for children with autism. Yeast and clostridia feed on complex carbohydrates and flourish when these types of foods are high in the diet. Removal of complex carbohydrates begins to restore balance in the gut within 3 days! Changing the microbiome, or ecosystem in the gut, can take months to years but research on the gut-brain axis is clear feed the good flora and improve brain function. Probiotics are good bacteria or yeasts and support microbiome repair in combination with dietary intervention that removes grains and dairy.
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When My Son With Autism Melts Down Heres What I Do
Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one persons story.
I sat in the child psychologists office telling her about my six-year-old son who has autism.
This was our first meeting to see if we would be a good fit to work together toward an evaluation and formal diagnosis, so my son wasnt present.
My partner and I told her about our choice of home-schooling and how weve never used punishment as a form of discipline.
As the meeting continued, her brows became hawklike.
I could see the judgment in her expression when she began a monologue about how I needed to force my son to go to school, force him into situations that make him extremely uncomfortable, and force him to socialize regardless of how he feels about it.
Force, force, force.
I felt like she wanted to stuff his behaviors into a box, then sit on top of it.
In reality, each and every child with autism is so unique and different from what society deems typical. You could never fit their beauty and quirkiness into a box.
We declined her services and found a better fit for our family for our son.
What Youll Learn In This Webinar:
One of the most challenging things for a parent of an autistic child, is helping their child to regulate their emotions, particularly when those emotions come out in aggressive behaviours.
On one hand parents want to help their child, but on the other hand, not knowing what to do in those stressful moments, can cause parents to feel reactive and emotional themselves, which can unintentionally result in a conflict cycle between parent and child that further escalates the situation.
This webinar will help you to understand what’s happening in your child’s mind and body during an emotional outburst and leave you with practical strategies on how to help yourself and your child to prevent and manage aggressive behaviour in autism.
Understand the Two Different Types of Aggression and how to identify which one you’re dealing with
Learn Why Aggressive Behaviour Makes Sense To Your Child’s Mind and Body
The 5 different phases of handling aggressive behaviours
Practical Tips on what to do and say when your child is triggered.
How to prevent a full blown meltdown or shutdown.
How to de-escalate your child when they’ve reached emotional overwhelm.
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