My Child May Be Nonverbal But She Has A Lot To Say
We live in a very verbal society that is ill-equipped for those in our population who are nonverbal. Its estimated that about one-third of those on the Autism Spectrum are unable to speak. Still, it would be a mistake to assume these people do not have ideas, opinions, and other things to say. Some autistic children learn sign language to communicate, while others type or use other tools.
What Age Do Autistic Children Talk
What Age Do Autistic Children Talk? Autistic children with verbal communication generally hit language milestones later than children with typical development. While typically developing children produce their first words between 12 and 18 months old, autistic children were found to do so at an average of 36 months.
How To Discipline Your Child For Hitting Others
Among the top parental concerns is how to discipline a child for hitting, including hitting you. When your child hits others, it disconcerting and often starts a cascade of worries and imagined scenarios involving a life of crime for their child. Understandably, parents are motivated to stop the aggressive behavior, but what works? While it seems daunting, you can learn how to discipline your children for hitting you and others and put your worries for their future to rest.
The first step in approaching your child who is hitting is to remember the meaning of discipline. To discipline means to teach and is about showing kids a better way to handle themselves and situations. Discipline is not about punishment. When disciplining a child that hits you or others, your goal is to teach them gently what to do instead of hitting.
The next step is understanding why, in general, kids hit. While children and circumstances are different, some prominent causes of hitting include:
- High frustration
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How Can I Discipline A Child With Autism
Firstly, it is important to understand that discipline does not always have to involve physically punishing your child, for example spanking. Many people do not agree with physical punishment and, chances are your autistic child will not understand why he/she is being spanked and what may be happening in the moment, other than this hurts. If your child is already distressed, physical punishment could cause further distress and, if your child self-harms, this behavior could worsen or the child may think that its okay to hit someone else if he/she is unhappy about anothers actions.
Ultimately, as a parent, you are your childs best expert! This means that you know best which method of discipline works for your child and your style of parenting. Remember, the goal is to teach him/her to learn what is acceptable and what isnt so that they become functional in their everyday lives socially.
Here are some ideas to consider when disciplining your autistic child.
Behavioral Issues Found In Autistic Children
Autistic children tend to display disruptive behaviors that can be difficult to manage. Understanding the reason behind these behaviors and responding in a positive manner will help you better deal with the challenges of disciplining your child.
Here are some of the most common behavioral issues among children on the autism spectrum:
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Make Them Feel Safe And Loved
Sometimes our children are so lost in their emotions that they cant hear us. In these situations, all we need to do is simply sit with or be near them.
Many times, we try to talk them down from their panic, but its often a waste of breath when a child is in the throes of a meltdown.
What we can do is let them know that theyre safe and loved. We do this by staying as near to them as theyre comfortable with.
Ive lost track of the times that Ive witnessed a crying child be told that they can only come out of a secluded space once they stop melting down.
This can send the message to the child that they dont deserve to be around the people that love them when theyre having a hard time. Obviously, this isnt our intended message to our kids.
So, we can show them were there for them by staying close.
How To Discipline A Child With Autism Positive Parenting Techniques
Autism professionals and parents often have a lot of questions surrounding disciplining children with and without autism. Theres added confusion about what discipline is, and how you should do it. So today were talking all about the important subject of discipline and positive parenting. If youre wondering how to discipline a child with autism, this blog is for you.
Each week I provide you with some of my ideas about turning autism around. So, if you havent subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can do that now.
The word discipline, according to the dictionary, means training people to obey rules. Or a code of behavior using punishment to correct disobedience. Therefore when you think of the word discipline you often think of punishment. As a Behavior Analyst who believes in an almost exclusive positive approach, this definition is upsetting. Even though some forms of discipline, like spanking, are now considered abusive, which I believe they should be, the use of other punishment techniques like time out, threats, and even yelling or verbal reprimands are used in schools and homes pretty frequently.
But for decades the research has shown that all animals, including humans, learn best in the absence of punishment. This includes rewarding positive behavior. The best book I know on parenting, with a totally positive approach, is called Positive Parenting by Glen Latham. This outlines the importance of a positive approach for all children.
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Yelling Threatening And Criticizing
Yelling, threatening, and criticizing your child with autism can often backfire and do more harm than good. Your child may even become more disruptive over time. Remember that the goal of disciplining your autistic child is to provide an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and not to lower their self-esteem.
Focus On Meeting Your Autistic Childs Needs
Now we know discipline needs to start before a negative behavior, but what exactly do we do before the negative behaviors?
Well first, you focus on meeting your autistic childs needs.
So often behaviors are caused by a basic need thats going unmet.
I mean, how many times has your child had a meltdown and afterward, you realized that they hadnt eaten in hours?
And meeting needs gets more difficult with autistic children who cant always communicate their needs clearly.
So if you find yourself dealing with aggression or a meltdown, first try to think about what basic needs may be the root cause.
Think, has your child eaten lately? Are they thirsty? Have they gotten the sensory input they need? Did they have enough sleep last night?
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Positive And Negative Consequences For Behaviour
A consequence is something that happens after your child behaves in a particular way. Consequences can be:
- positive for example, your child gets more time at the park if they get ready to leave the house
- negative for example, the toy is put away for 10 minutes if your child is throwing it.
You can use both positive and negative consequences to guide your childs behaviour. But its always best to focus more on giving your child positive attention for behaving in ways that you like. This usually means youll need to use negative consequences less.
Time-outQuiet time and time-out are useful consequences. Both involve taking your child away from interesting activities and not giving them attention for a short period of time.
Time-out might not work if your child tends to be withdrawn. It could end up being a reward rather than a negative consequence if it gives your child time alone.
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.
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Autism And Hitting: How To Stop A Child With Autism From Hitting
Sometimes being a parent to a child with autism is hard. Not being able to understand why they are upset or frustrating is heartbreaking when you just want to be able to help your child. Unfortunately sometimes being upset, frustrated or angry can lead to aggression and lashing out. It is not uncommon for an autistic child to hit their parents, siblings, teachers or anyone close to them.
In this blog, SpecialKidsCompany will look at autism and aggression, potential triggers and strategies for hitting behaviour.
Autism aggression triggers and strategies for hitting behaviour
There are lots of things than can trigger aggression in a child with autism. Finding the root cause of your childs aggression is important to enable you to find the right strategy to help them overcome it.
Trigger: Sensory Overload/Deficit and their environment
It is worthwhile exploring whether your childs behaviour changes depending on the environment that they are in. Do they behave differently at home or at school? This could be due to sensory issues.
Children with autism often have sensory differences, which can mean that they are either over-sensitive or under-sensitive with certain senses. This could be touch, taste, smell, noise, light sensitivity, temperature sensitivity or even colour sensitivity. Sensory issues can have a huge impact of an autistic childs life and how they feel and react.
Strategies to deal with aggressive behaviour caused by sensory issues
Trigger: Changes to routine
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.
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Use Positive And Immediate Feedback
Kids hear no 50 times a day. Instead, emphasize the positive and downplay the negative by using labeled praise as a part of your discipline strategy.
Labeled praise defines what is positive about a childs actions. For instance, You did a great job of cleaning up! would be more effective than simply saying Thank you for helping me.
Give immediate and frequent feedback along with consequences for behavior and activities. Feedback must be clear, specific, and occur as close to the time after the behavior that it refers to. Offer praise, compliments, hugs, or privileges, specifying exactly what your child did to earn it.
Autistic children may have a reduced sensitivity to rewards and other consequences. They need larger and more important rewards to motivate them to perform, follow rules, or behave well. Make the consequences powerful and worth avoiding or earning.
And finally, dole out the positive comments before the negative ones. Dont make consequences your first move, and when you do, keep them mild and specific to a certain behavior.
How Do You Entertain Someone With Autism
11 Activities for Nonverbal Autistic Adults Educational Activities. A variety of educational enterprises engage and entertain adults with nonverbal autism. Write, Illustrate and Publish a Book. Read Together. Social Activities. Build with Blocks. Make Music. Play Noncompetitive Games and Sports. Communication Activities.
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Dont Assume Nonverbal Children Cant Communicate
Many children with autism dont speak at all. But never assume that they dont have something to say.
For children with autism, behavior is a form of communication. That includes:
- Walking away
Listen to what the child is trying to say. Ignore it, and the behavior may escalate until the child gets the point across.
Be Consistent With The Discipline Techniques
Consistent discipline techniques are important for all children, special needs or not. However, those with certain conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism are known to respond exceptionally well to discipline, but only if they can predict what will happen next.
The best way to discipline a child with autism is consistency. Try to stick to a specific routine every day. If there are other caregivers in the home, such as professionals, family members or friends, they should be aware of the routine and understand how to handle the child correctly. If your child is pre-verbal or non-verbal, try using picture or sticker charts to show what they should expect.
Besides curbing negative behaviours linked to anxiety, consistent discipline techniques will also improve the childs ability to embrace change if need be.
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Implement Visual Schedules And Guides In Your Home
Most autistic children will succeed best with visual learning.
So the next step to disciplining your autistic child is to implement visual schedules and visual guides in your home.
Whether you use PECS to communicate with your autistic child, or you use a visual timer as a part of your routine, implementing visual strategies will help keep behaviors at bay.
Visual schedules help give your child a sense of control in their environment, and it plays into our last tip by helping your autistic child understand whats coming next.
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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.
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Timing Matters With Discipline
There should be no waiting for the other spouse to get home to deal with the problem or to reprimand bad behavior, as the child may be confused when they are being punished long after the event took place.
Timing is essential.
However, it is important that both parents be equally involved in using discipline so that the child does not learn to act up in front of the parent that is known to pass the buck when these things happen.
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.
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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.
Educate Yourself With Your Autistic Kids Needs
It is always essential to have a good understanding of your autistic childs symptoms and behaviors. Different kids will have different signs, depending on which spectrum they sit on. Therefore, make sure you have a knowledge of autism to have the right expectations and discipline techniques. For example, an 8-year-old autistic kid can act like a 3-year-old one due to difficulty in language or social interaction.
There are various approaches to learn about autism. For instance, you can join online support groups for families of autistic kids. You can also exchange views on this issue with other parents of children with ASD at your kids school. This way, you can have a deep understanding of what is considered typical behaviors for a child with autism.
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Why Adults May Not Discipline 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.