Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Disciplining Young Children with ASD

By Rachelle Blair-Thatcher

“How do I discipline my child with autism?”

Disciplining young children is difficult!
Disciplining young children with ASD can feel impossible!

Although there is no such thing as a “one size fits all solution”, I have found a remedy that can greatly improve our approach. One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is, “What is our child communicating?”
The answer to this question may provide helpful insight and understanding. It is important to realize that very young children under the age of 3 do not usually choose to misbehave. Rather, they are interested in surviving and thriving in their environment. As we view the behavior we want to change, we must consider why it occurs? Then, we can determine how to addressed it.

3 Piece Pie



Special Needs

Development – Often as parents, we need to be reminded of “typical” behavior. It is easy for us to forget that all 2, 3 & 4 year olds can be challenging at times. For a child with ASD we need to celebrate the milestones. We want to celebrate the developmental milestones and as parents remember that the child is progressing. Often, it can feel like a double edged sword. On one hand; we are excited they are not in a constant state of self stimulatory behavior BUT, on the other hand; now they are screaming and chasing little sister. The typical social/emotional development for a 2 ½ - 3 year old includes: showing independence, demonstration of extreme emotional shifts and paradoxical responses, talking with a loud, urgent and dictatorial and demanding voice. In addition, children this age resist change, are extremely ritualistic and experience difficulty with transitions. STOP!!! Does this sound like anyone you know?

The differences between children with ASD and our “nuerotypical” counterparts is that the “nuerotypical” children transition through this developmental stage whereas, children with ASD often times do not.

Personality – Each of us have a distinct personality that makes us who we are. Children with ASD are no different! I have met children and adults with autism that are hilarious. I have also met others that are very grumpy and angry all of the time. So, whether your child is sweet and sensitive or funny and grumpy, personality must be considered when disciplining your child.

Special Need – Your child may have extreme sensory disregulation and/or disabilities. It is critical that you evaluate limitations and require reasonable expectations of your child. We want your child to be successful. Recognize, YOUR CHILD’S SPECIAL NEEDS ARE NOT YOUR ENTIRE CHILD! Special needs are only one part of who they are, so, they need you to know when to push harder and expect more or when to give them a break!

Mom says, “Every time I take my 3 year old to the store he screams.”

The child’s functions socially at 30 months. We know that it is typical for that age to experience difficulty with transitions. The child’s personality is usually sweet and sensitive. The child is scared and in distress and screams as we enter the store. We know that he is extremely sensitive to loud noises.

Rather than punishing the child, we recognize that he is not “misbehaving”, he is disregulated and over stimulated by the loud noises in the store.
We implement supportive techniques and teach him how to regulate.

We all know that in the world of autism, “ If you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism.” By using The 3 Piece Pie your awareness of your child’s experience will improve and you will enhance your skills to analyze your child’s behavior and choose your methods of discipline.

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