Managing Behaviours

Posted on: February 25, 2012

Punishing A is really something that I find hard to do. Although he has Autism, I try to think why he may be behaving badly, is it because that’s just what boys do? Is it because that’s how typical 3 year olds behave? Is it just him growing up? Or is it actually because he’s Autistic.

‘Naughty’ isn’t a word I would use to describe A. ‘Cheeky’ ‘Challenging’ ‘Frustrated’ yes! But sometimes its so hard to differentiate ‘Autistic behaviour’ to those behaviours of his age group, especially since he’s my only child so I don’t have much to compare to.

A hates the word ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ he will get angry, sometimes hit out, pinches me or slaps me, cover my mouth with his hand or cry, so I often end up feeling guilty and avoid upsetting him and it leading to a meltdown.

I often ask myself, does he understand? And I think that’s where my boundary lies when punishing him.

Usually what I try to do is prevent such behaviours from occurring, for example; I’ll move something out of reach if I know he’ll probably want it so I’m not constantly having to tell him, “No”.

Its really important to plan ahead for situations that may be difficult for ASD children, and by doing this you’ll be more likely to avoid problem behaviours occurring. New situations, especially those that are social, are very likely to be stressful so planning and preparation in advance are absolutely essential – usually I have A’s Nintendo DSi charged fully, chewy tubes, crisps, chocolate & small books ready for any kind of outing.

I found some really good ‘Golden Rules’ on tackling problem behaviours;

To avoid anxieties – leading to problem behaviours make sure they always know;

A) Where do I have to be?
B) What am I doing?
C) How much will I have to do?
D) When will I know I have finished?
E) What will I do next?

When giving rules – be consistent.

Check what you’ve said has been understood.
Mean what you say and follow it through.
Use language that is clear.
Give plenty of notice.

Build in Planned Breaks.

Avoid Exhaustion
Allow time to unwind
– we allow A, a certain amount of quiet time in his day, every day to give him space, time alone and a chance to de-stress – it really works, he enjoys it & its a nice break for us also.

Recognise stress

Avoid Confrontation
Do not crowd
Allow plenty of space
Do not nag or speak quickly
Teach waiting and turn taking skills

Try and use physical exercise throughout the day – great for stress relief

Don’t allow your child to fail, try small repeated steps first
Avoid any distractions – noise, disturbance, smells

Its important to avoid negatives – don’t tell them what they can’t do – its so much clearer (and easier) to focus on a positive action.

Persevering for days, weeks or even months will sometimes be necessary to see some tangible progress in your childs behaviour. Under these circumstances, stick at it – don’t give up.

The above are all really good tips for managing behaviours that are predictable – which really help to control anxieties and problem behaviours – meaning no need to punish. But there are some behaviours which you can’t predict, and that’s where it really becomes difficult, often leading in regret from your actions. A, will attack me sometimes for no visible reason and that is so hard to have to tell him “No, that’s wrong” but not know the actual cause for the outburst.

If anyone has any tips on managing behaviours please comment šŸ™‚

L x


8 Responses to "Managing Behaviours"

Thanks again for including me – I love your blogs and I am learning so much from reading them – it should be compulsory šŸ™‚

Love this post. Reflects my son and my attitude almost identically. Great summary of headline stuff you can do with and for your child to avoid meltdown.
Brilliant stuff

this has been our most difficult challeng. Schools too..they have just started to figure out they cant punish T with traditional methods. His teacher doesnt underatand ASD an thought it was more a disipline issue. Well that backfired x some. This poor lady got “schooled” real quick on Asd kids. Unfortunately T learned that when he “really ” flipped out people easily caved to his wants. I had to interven and was not sure where/ what. I managed to lay down serious responses, never fearing his outbursts cause he knows “hands off” people. Its come close. I ask myself all the time “is that attitude mainstream 14 yr boy?” Well, no matter which one it is the attitude is /will b redirected. Now we are working on gauging how his words/tone affect other people and he discovered meditation,to use as a skill to calm down

Planning everything in advance is something we parents of autistic children live with and don’t even think about. I do it automatically now and my daughter is 12. When we go to the local pub for tea I have to take colouring books and felt tip pens to keep her occupied. I don’t know how to live any other way now, it’s been like this since she was diagnosed at age 3.

CJ x

If you have an empty room in your house make this a calm room. We had one in the nursery for autistic children. When they were frustrated we would take them there, We had lava lamps (autistic children LOVE these- appeals to their senses) and a big water matress (expensive i know could improvise with some sort of inflatable chair tho) and we would have the lights off (minus the lava lamps) and straight away they would calm right down and we could then explain stuff to them and talk to them. It was amazing. Add as much sesnory things as possible (glow in the dark stars on the wall etc) it was amazing šŸ˜€

This isn’t a tip, but I just wanted to say that reading your description of A’s reactions to the words “No” or “Stop” really helped me, as my son Max responds EXACTLY the same, and I hadn’t heard of this reaction before. Knowing that other children with Autism do the same thing makes a difference, as a mom. Thanks again!

Exactly the same issues here. Little Bit’s behavior therapist discovered long ago that the word “no” is a trigger for her to melt down. This doesn’t mean we let her do whatever she wants (as some ppl think) but that we must be creative in how we respond. “Not right now”, “Let’s do ABC instead”, “First A, then B” etc. Or distraction can work wonders. Depends on the situation, and as you said, each situation is different. Visual supports work better here. We use dry erase board for “First ____ then____.” Or we use “Have to” and Want to” columns. She gets to pick a “want to” after she completes the “have to”. Make sense?
Each day is like a chess game. You have to think many moves ahead, prepare, stay sharp, and one step ahead. You are not alone.

One thing more I would recommend is to have your child repeat back to you what he is supposed to do or not do. But make sure he does it in his own words, doesn’t just parrot you. One of the things we found along the way is that the boys would say yes I understand but in reality they didn’t they just thought they did.

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