Let’s Talk: Behavior

 Dr. “Ali” Alisha Griffith is an Autism Mom, Communication Expert (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist), Best Selling Author, IGNITE Coach and Transformational Speaker and Trainer. She provides coaching to teach individuals and caregivers how to become effective listeners, foster stronger relationships and get ignited and focused. Her best-selling book can be purchased by clicking here.

-Are you questioning whether outbursts are OK?

-Are you dealing with behavioral issues at school?

-Is your child not wanting to get off the bus?

-Are you dealing with biting, kicking, screaming?

Do these behavioral challenges sound familiar to you?

As parents, we have to face many behavioral challenges. From tantrums to biting, to kicking and screaming, it’s not uncommon to see these challenges as an Autism parent. Today, I want to discuss how you can use communication to deal with behavioral challenges and issues at home.

As my child, Zachary is getting older we are dealing with unique challenges at this stage than when he was younger. You may find that behavioral challenges will change at different stages of the game, and this is why it’s important to understand how to deal with them.

The first step to addressing the challenge is deciding what exactly you are working on. What behavioral challenge are you working to improve? Write it down now.

My current challenge I’m facing with Zachary is using the word “shut up”. He’s now 12 years old and he’s now beginning to test the limits where he can use certain words. He hears the word shut up from his peers, from TV programs, and out in the neighborhood, all indicating that it’s maybe sometimes “OK” to use this word, despite my telling him that it’s definitely not OK to use with other people and one another.

He’s feeling himself, he’s at that point where he’s questioning when to use it and when not to use it. So as his mom, an Autism parenting strategist, that’s exactly the identified goal we decided to work on for the last 4-6 weeks.

Identifying the behavior you want to change is the first step in fixing that behavior. With the behavior I’m working on, I worked on reducing words that he knows are not OK and made him more conscious about when it comes out of his mouth, to provide alternative words to use instead.

Until you are clear about the behavior you are working, you are going to be grasping at straws to get results.

Did you write it down? Write down your goal for today, this week, this month!

2) Deal with consistency and repetition. If this is the behavior you don’t want your child to do, then you have to target your responses accordingly.

Write down consistency! Because if you are not consistently dealing with the action and not consistently dealing with alternative ways of responding when they are using that action.. that hand… those words…they’re going to feel like sometimes it may be OK. That state of confusion can lead to them testing those boundaries often and thinking it’s OK.

At times you may need help from a behavioral therapist or pathologist to address a very specific pattern. Remember, these tools are very general, and unique issues have unique ways to handle them.

Every child is different, but you can set up a time to speak to me about your unique challenges and create a plan where communication and behavior work hand in hand to deliver results.

3) The last tip involved making sure that we have a reward afterward. Every time your child is not doing the bad behavior, make sure your rewarding them and proactively acknowledging the good behavior.

Whenever Zach goes through a day where he prevents himself from saying the word, I say “good job”. He’s practicing not saying the word. It can be something as simple as a high five, a reward or acknowledgment. Part of behavioral management and treatment is giving them alternatives things to do. If they like to hit, give them something else to do with their hand. Teach them where else to use it that is better than hitting their peers or you. What else can we do with our hands when we’re frustrated? A stress ball? Playdoh? Boxing? Give alternatives so they know using their hands to hit is not an option, but there are some positive ways to use them.