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.

Parents who have children on the spectrum face a different set of challenges while raising their autistic children, and many find that discipline is one of the biggest challenges of all. Even amongst children with an ASD, one child's behavior may be completely different than the next. For this reason, do not get discouraged when some of these strategies or techniques don't work with your child- it takes some time, learning and patience to understand what will work best with your Au-mazing gift. 

So you want to learn more about how to do deal with these behavioral challenges with a child with Autism...but you kind of want them to still have their "way". Many parents who are new to dealing with the diagnosis, may want to "give in" to their children's wants and needs. Dr. Ali suggests the following tips to regain structure in your home. 

Why children with Autism Spectrum Disorder behave in challenging ways

There are many different ways that children and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might behave. Some of these reasons include:

  • They may be anxious.
  • They may have trouble understanding what's happening around them.
  • They may not have effective ways to display their own wants and needs, causing frustration. 
  • They could be very anxious
  • They could be sensory sensitive, which causes an oversensitivity to noise or a need for sensory stimulation. 
  • They could want to escape that situation or activities that is causing them distress. 

First Steps to Take

  • Safety is important and the number one priority. Try to remove your child from the situation as soon as possible and ensure they're safe before doing anything. 
  • Try to journal every time your child has an outburst. What behaviors are reoccurring? What trends do you see? Is there something or someone that is consistently involved when he has an outburst? Maybe he knows if he screams, he knows it will be an easy way to get him out of a situation he doesn't want to be in. Try to find the patterns. 
  • Instead of focusing on punishment, try to focus on rewarding good behavior. Try to remain calm when your child does act up, and try changing the language you are using. Instead of yelling to stop doing something, just tell him what he should not be doing. For example, instead of saying "don't hit your brother" say "put your hand down". 

Structure with Follow Through

Structure with follow through. 

If you have a guideline or rule, state it clearly and follow through. Dr. Ali says, "If you keep breaking the rules..if you keep feeling bad, or saying 'Oh, maybe not today'... if you change the structure in the routine continuously because of how you feel you're going to see more behavioral challenges. Why? Because you let [them] have what they wanted last time.... Or they respond [in anger] and you have not claimed authority in that conversation. If you start younger, at the point where they're newly diagnosed, if you start at the point where they have more ability to listen, then you will be able to implement these strategies and tools immediately. Using more visual queues, with an authoritative voice with staying within your constraints. You let them know, 'I am mom. This is what it is. There is no option with this choice.' 

Dr. Ali goes on to say that it's important for parents to know when it's appropriate to provide "choices". The key still remains, how do they respond? How are the immediate response when things are not going their way? If their response is to hit, bite, scream then you are not achieving a response that you want from your child. Now it's time to start changing things around, which means it's time to regain authority in the situation. 

Write this down: I am this authoritative person in this situation. 

Once you create the structure you have to follow through. If you keep changing things, they're not going to take you seriously. 

Communicate through the process. Have to let the m now this is what happen, and a result of this, it'll be this consequence. A consequence can be something great. 

Do you have specific behavioral challenges?

If you are dealing with specific behavioral challenges that you are going through with your child, don't worry! Dr. Ali provides further guidance through her parenting coaching. Get a free 15 minute consultation to get started. 

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