Monday, March 12, 2012

Discipline Does Not Cure Autism

One of the hardest things when you have a child with Autism is how do you discipline them. Of course, part of it depends on where they are on the spectrum and how much they understand consequences of their actions. My son has Asperger's so I am going to talk about Asperger's, as that is what I know the most about.

Before he was diagnosed, we were told (by an actual doctor!) that we simply were not strict enough, that we needed to spank him more, that we needed to be more firm, to restrain him during a tantrum and put him in time out. Well, if you have a child with autism and sensory needs, you know that these are the exact opposite of what a child with these types of special needs can handle. It really does take a special understanding of your child and these disorders to understand the best way to get through to your child and make an impact so that a negative behavior will not continue.


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  • When your child is emotional and upset, it is not the time to get onto your child about whatever they have done wrong.  Give your child time to calm down. Then you can talk calmly about it, go through what happened. It is usually a miscommunication or misinterpretation. Try to see things the way the other person sees it. Your child might need to do that by drawing pictures or writing social stories to fully understand.
  • Children often will not follow the rules unless the understand the "why." Post a list of the rules and their consequences so your child will know what to expect and why.
  • Never resort to physical punishment or restraint. These usually escalate negative behaviors. 
  • The best discipline is positive, parents must rely on providing incentives for desirable behaviors before using punishments to control undesirable behaviors.
What discipline techniques have you used that have worked the best? Please share!

2 comments:

  1. eh, I disgree my son has vilent tantrums. I do not think "discipline" should be rules out. He slaps, punches, and kicks while angry a slap on the thigh relates that "Hey, this hurts" and kinda shocks his senses into focusing. Also, kids are kids. Just because a child is "autisic" does not mean he is not a child with typical behaviors.

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    1. With respect, those violent tantrums are his way of telling you something is wrong in his world. We do discipline, but it has to be different for him than it is for our other children. In fact, I've been told by many pediatricians and psychologists that we should discipline our kids based on their individuality. My son does have "typical behaviors" but it's the non-typical behaviors that he needs help with.

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