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Is It Autism Or Bad Behavior

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Autistic Child Bad Behavior | How We Handle It As Autism Parents

Many of your childs behaviors may not make obvious sensethey dont seem to serve any clear purpose. But your child doesnt smear poop all over the walls on purpose to make you cry or get angry. Assume for a minute that crazy behaviors like this do make some sense, that your child is sending you coded messages about things that are important to himand your job is to break the code so you can read the messages.

The first thing to do is to start recording these outbursts and stunts the way an anthropologist might record the actions of a newly discovered native people. Suspend your judgments, what you think you know. What time do these events most often happen? Does the same thing often happen first? Perhaps hes more likely to have outbursts on pizza day in the school cafeteria, or after youve just turned on the lights because its getting dark outside. Maybe it only happens when you turn on the fluorescent light in the kitchen. Many behaviors are set off or triggered by an event. Just as you might suddenly feel hungry as you walk past a bakery, there are setting events in your childs lifethe things that set off difficult behaviors. You can use a diary or log to try to identify these setting events for some of your childs most difficult behaviors.

Instead of looking at the behavior as bad, look for how the context, or environment, is out of synch with your child, and explore what you can do about it.

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A Child Who Cannot Talk Cannot Understand

We are accustomed to the idea that verbal communication is a sign of intelligence. But a child who has a terrific vocabulary is not necessarily any more capable of good behavior than a child with a limited vocabulary. And even a child with no words may be quite capable of understanding and complying with behavioral expectations, assuming that child can communicate via sign, communication board, PECS cards, or other means.

You may need to modify your style of communication to meet the needs of a child with limited or no verbal skills. For example, you may need to keep your words simple , and you may need to use the child’s preferred means of communication. For most adults, modifications such as these should be easy to accomplish.

Distract And Redirect Problematic Behavior Instead Of Saying Stop Or No

For example, if the child is running in the store, remind him or show him how to walk nicely. If necessary, find something interesting to show him and call his attention to it, rather than focusing on the problematic behavior. If he is running in the hall at school, redirect him back to the line, with a short directive such as, Come back to your spot in line or remind him to walk in the hallway. For children with trouble understanding language, try demonstrating what is expected or use a gesture, rather than just giving the verbal direction.

Also Check: Autistic Person Lifespan

How To Address Bad Behavior During Aba Therapy

No child is perfect all day every day. Place a child in a new or unusual situation, and difficulties will emerge. Add communication or developmental problems to the mix, and the chance for problems increases.

Applied behavior analysis therapy helps a child build communication and coping skills. Kids emerge with tools they can use to advocate for themselves.

But during ABA therapy, maladaptive behaviors often appear. When they do, therapists and parents can band together to ensure that the therapy stays on course.

Get Busy Doing Something Else

Management : How to Discipline an Autistic Child

For many parents it’s so hard to do nothing! This technique is for you work-a-holics out there. Have a book to read or some task to do that takes all your attention. Instead of looking at your child screaming and rolling around on the floor, you are busy reading War and Peace. I had a concerned grandparent do this rather than pick up her tantrumming three year old grandson between our work sessions. Here I was being the “meanie” by making him work and she got all the hugs and kisses by hugging and kissing him when he was behaving badly. Instead I had her read really boring book by Martin A. Kozloff and tell him, “Grandma has to do her home work.” It worked – she won the “Tough Love Granny of the Year Award” and the child became a graduate of our program!

Also Check: Autism Variations

Ignoring Does Not Work For All Behaviors

Dangerous behavior should not be ignored – deal with those behaviors appropriately. Behaviors that are not controlled by attention will not go away just because you stop giving attention. For example, many children with autism engage in self-stimulation . Typically, these behaviors would occur whether you were looking at the child or not. Ignoring is still a good idea but it will not change well-established self-stim behaviors.

The best thing to do with self-stim behaviors is to schedule a time when engaging in self-stim behaviors is allowed. You will have to redirect the child’s behavior at other times – do not allow unlimited self-stimulation. You will have to interrupt the self-stimming when you expect your child to engage in other activities. Self-stimming is like a powerful drug children with autism crave – there is little you have in your “bag of tricks” that will be able to compete with it. Therefore, you will have to limit self-stimming when you are working or playing constructively with your child. When your child is not engaged in such work, you can allow self-stimming, in fact, it can serve as a reinforcer for your child’s appropriate response to training .

Factors That Can Lead To Behavior Problems:

Change in routine: People with autism like to do things according to a routine. They like schedules, timings and organization. Routine helps them feel safe and comfortable. However when there is a change in the routine, it causes a lot of distress. This can manifest as a behavior problem.

Sensory factors: Adults with autism may have a need for sensory stimulation, or may be hypersensitive to some sensory experiences. This is often the cause for many stereotypical behaviors especially rocking, arm flapping, and even some self injurious behaviors.

Medical factors: Adults with autism also experience hunger, thirst, stomach aches, headaches, tiredness etc. However they may not be able to distinguish all these symptoms from one another, and may not understand why they are uncomfortable. This can also cause problem behaviors.

Social factors: Adults with autism have difficulties with social skills. Sometimes when faced with social demands that are too much for them, they may show some problem behaviors.

Inability to communicate needs: A lot of adults with autism struggle with difficulties in communication and language, and so they are not able to express their needs, desires or discomforts. This can often be another cause of a problem behavior.

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What Is Harmful Stimming

Stims that are uncontrollable, occur excessively in inappropriate settings, or prevent a child from socially acceptable interaction, may need to be addressed. Far more serious are unhealthy stims like self-injurious behaviors. These can include hair pulling, biting, hitting oneself, hitting the head against something in a harmful way, or picking/nail biting to the point of injury. Why would a person engage in self injuring stimulation? Possibly because their overload or source of anxiety is so overwhelming, it requires a much more serious stimulation to block it out. As Kristen Lindsmith points out in her blog post on stimming pain is the one sensation that will overwhelm all others.

If you walk into a house with too many cats you may cringe at the strong scent of kitty litter, but if you stay and hang around youll stop noticing the smell. This isnt about attention, this is a physiological reaction. You really do stop smelling the cat pee. But if youre in pain, you wont acclimate to it. As long as the reason for the pain is still present, your nervous system will keep on sending you those signals. Not only that, but it will prioritize that sensation above others.

Check For Physical Issues

AUTISM: Punishing Autistic People for Bad Behaviors

Few people with severe autism are able to describe physical symptoms or problems. So, it’s a good idea to regularly check for physical things that may be exacerbating problem behaviors.

It’s not uncommon, for example, to discover that a child’s apparently aggressive behavior is actually a response to severe gastrointestinal pain. That pain may go away with the right dietary changes.

Once the pain is gone, they usually find it much easier to relax, engage, learn, and behave appropriately.

Also Check: How Long Do People Live With Autism

Mild Autism: The Most Difficult To Diagnose

Children with mild autism are less likely to show outward signs such as overtly hand-flapping, toe-walking, or spinning. They may demonstrate those behaviors but, if they do, they are likely to be diagnosed without confusion or misdiagnosis. In that respect, its difficult to miss such blatant signs. However, more often, children with mild symptoms do not demonstrate those classic signs of autism but, rather, are obsessive they tend to fixate on a particular interest, fear, need for reassurance, or change in routine. They may also be quite particular and are routine-oriented, rule-oriented, and sensory sensitive. Though they tend to be socially awkward, they can be social and have friends.

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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.

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Children With Autism Never Misbehave Without A Good Reason

It is certainly true that many children with autism respond strongly to sensory input, and may show their discomfort through what appear to be naughty behaviors. And it’s also true that children with autism are more liable than typical children to suffer from bullying which may not be obvious to the adult in the room. So yes, sometimes “behaviors” are the result of problems which can and should be addressed.

Nevertheless, children with autism are children. They get angry and hit. They throw things that shouldn’t be thrown. They put their hands in their food or dump their food on the floor. And just like other children, children with autism need to learn those behavior are not acceptable and there are alternative ways to communicate your feelings and needs.

How To Discipline An Autistic Child: 13 Tips For Parents

Classroom Rules

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Youve probably heard that no two individuals with autism are the same, and while this certainly contributes to the uniqueness of autism spectrum disorder, it can make things extremely tricky. The internet is filled with all kinds of tips and strategies for improving speech, encouraging age-appropriate socialization, teaching proper self-regulation, managing aggressive behaviors, and coping with anxiety, but the things that work for one child may not work for another, leaving parents and caregivers stuck in a never-ending cycle of trial and error. And since behavioral issues with autism can be pretty extreme at times, figuring out how to discipline an autistic child appropriately is a challenge that leaves many parents feeling overwhelmed and desperate.

Of course, there is never a shortage in opinions on how to parent an autistic child, but unless you live in the trenches of your specific situation each and every day, its difficult to understand that traditional forms of discipline and punishment may not be effective. Your child may not be able to make a connection between her behavior and the consequences you are trying to enforce, making any and all forms of punishment frustrating and, quite frankly, useless!

The good news is that disciplining an autistic child is possible, and were sharing our best ideas to help you figure out the best strategies for you and your family.

Also Check: Lifespan Of Autism

Tantrums Are Rarely About Communication Challenges

Cheryl D. Tierney, associate professor of pediatrics, College of Medicine, Penn State Childrens Hospital says:

There is a common pervasive misbelief that children with autism have more tantrum behaviors because they have difficulty communicating their wants and their needs to caregivers and other adults. The belief is that their inability to express themselves with speech and language is the driving force for these behaviors, and that if we can improve their speech and their language the behaviors will get better on their own. But we found that only a very tiny percentage of temper tantrums are caused by having the inability to communicate well with others or an inability to be understood by others.

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.

Also Check: Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale

Stay Calm When Interacting With The Child

If you are regularly having trouble staying calm, you may benefit from talking to a friend, family member, or therapist for support. Do not take it out on your child. Yelling and threatening will not make behavior better. It may stop the behavior in the short-term, but the behaviors will occur again. You may actually make the behaviors worse because the child may start to feel anxious, scared, angry, embarrassed, or sad. Children with autism are not choosing to act in a way that is frustrating to you or anyone else. They legitimately need positive support from you to help them meet their emotional/behavioral needs.

Finally, it is important to recognize that some children on the autism spectrum have trouble generalizing expectations across situations, so the same strategies may need to be used in situations that are similar to one another.

Keep in Mind: If you are using these strategies for the first time, you may not see change as quickly as you d like. Your child/student will not be used to your new techniques and may even push harder due to the sudden change in your behavior. I know it is hard but be patient and keep implementing these strategies with consistency.

Here are some options for how you can create pictures to use with children with language difficulties:

If you work in a school, they may already have a laminator for you to use. If you are a parent, you can also try asking your childs school if they can help you laminate some pictures for an at home schedule.

Autism And Bad Behavior

Autism in the Classroom- Why Behaviors Happen

Bad or unacceptable behavior can be quite a problem when you are dealing with a child with autism. Those that dont speak need constant physical cues to stop what they are doing and need constant positive reinforcement for behavior that is socially acceptable. These children cannot take their cues from others because they are unable to visually check their peers and themselves for those cues. For non-verbal children with autism, this training process is even more difficult because you cant confirm what it is the child heard you say and whether or not they clearly understood. That is why consistency is such a big factor in how these situations are handled.

Children who are verbal can confirm that they heard you, but they still need the same level of consistency in their plan to adapt to socially acceptable behavioral norms. Although its controversial, reward systems can be effective with children who understand enough to know that they get a special treat or reward for behaving properly. The controversy here arises from the argument about what would happen if the reward system is taken away? The child needs to internalize his own sense of accomplishment through proper behavior, but that is as much a tough thing to teach as it is with a child who doesnt have autism!

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How Does Asd Affect Communication

The word autism has its origin in the Greek word autos, which means self. Children with ASD are often self-absorbed and seem to exist in a private world in which they have limited ability to successfully communicate and interact with others. Children with ASD may have difficulty developing language skills and understanding what others say to them. They also often have difficulty communicating nonverbally, such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.

The ability of children with ASD to communicate and use language depends on their intellectual and social development. Some children with ASD may not be able to communicate using speech or language, and some may have very limited speaking skills. Others may have rich vocabularies and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. Many have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences. They also may be unable to understand body language and the meanings of different vocal tones. Taken together, these difficulties affect the ability of children with ASD to interact with others, especially people their own age.

Below are some patterns of language use and behaviors that are often found in children with ASD.

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