HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search This Site

Addressing the Root Causes of Disobedience in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“How can I get my 9 y.o. son with Aspergers (high functioning) to obey and do as he's told? He won't do his homework and refuses to clean his room. He is defiant and talks back. When we try to discuss these problems with him in a peaceful, mature manner, he usually ends up getting angry and yells at us. And with the recent start of school, things have gotten much worse. What are we doing wrong?”

Unfortunately, disobedience is an issue more common in High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) than in the general population. It can occur for numerous reasons. For example, anxiety, low-frustration tolerance, sensory sensitivities, social skills deficits, difficulty understanding emotions and their impact on others, when rituals can’t get accomplished, when the youngster's need for order or symmetry can’t be met… just to name a few. Thus, it’s important to understand that in many cases, the child’s oppositional behavior may be a symptom of some underlying issue related to his or her disorder.

Children on the autism spectrum possess a unique set of attitudes and behaviors related to their disorder that may result in the appearance of willful misbehavior. For example:
  • They tend to be physically and socially awkward, which makes them a frequent target of school bullies.
  • They suffer from “mindblindness,” which means they have difficulty understanding the emotions others are trying to convey through facial expressions and body language. Mindblindness often gives parents the impression that their HFA or AS child is insensitive, selfish and uncaring.
  • They may have other issues like ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
  • They may have anxiety about a current or upcoming event (e.g., the start of school).
  • They may fixate on their own interests and ignore the interests and opinions of others.
  • They may become so obsessed with their particular areas of interest that they get upset and angry when something or someone interrupts their schedule or activity.
  • They may be unable to resist giving in to their obsessions and compulsions.
  • They may be reluctant to participate in an activity they can’t do perfectly or an activity that is difficult.
  • They have trouble expressing their own emotions and understanding the feelings of others. 
  • They have difficulty understanding rules of society.
  • They have difficulty transitioning to another activity (this is especially hard if the current activity is not finished).
  • They don’t understand social cues.
  • They don’t understand implied directions.
  • They don’t know how to “read between the lines.”
  • They don’t “take in” what is going on around them.
  • They can’t fully appreciate what impact their behaviors have on others.
  • They can be extremely sensitive to loud noise, strong smells and bright lights. This can be a challenge in relationships as they may be limited in where they can go on, how well they can tolerate the environment, and how receptive they are to instruction from parents and teachers.
  • The parent or teacher changes a circumstance or rule that has been established.
  • Social conventions are a confusing maze for these “special needs” kids, resulting in an inability to tolerate the little frustrating things that come up throughout the day.
  • Low self-esteem caused by being rejected and outcast by peers often makes these kids even more susceptible to “acting-out” behaviors at home and school.
  • Due to trouble handling changes in routine, a simple variation in schedules may be enough to cause a meltdown.
  • Because they struggle to interpret figures of speech and tones of voice that “typical” kids naturally pick up on, they may have difficulty engaging in a two-way conversation.

Any or all of these triggers can result in certain behavioral patterns that “look like” disobedience (e.g., arguing, tantrums, refusing to listen, etc.). However, their responses to these triggers often have more to do with anxiety and rigidity than their need to defy authority.

So, what can parents do to help their HFA or AS child to cope better? Do some investigation and create a plan:

The Investigation— 

1. Keep a journal (or if it is a frequently occurring behavior, keep a chart) for noting every incidence of the targeted behavior (e.g., the child getting angry when asked to stop playing video games and start doing homework).

2. Include the time of day the behavior occurred.

3. Think of what might have happened directly before the behavior, and also earlier in the day.

4. Think, too, of what happened during and directly after the behavior, and whether it offered your child any reward (even negative attention can be rewarding if the alternative is no attention at all).

5. Ask yourself the following questions. Does the behavior tend to:
  • occur when things are very noisy or busy?
  • occur when something happens - or doesn't happen?
  • occur when routine is disrupted?
  • occur in anticipation of something happening?
  • occur during transitions?
  • occur after a certain event?
  • be more frequent during a certain time of day?

6. Keep track over the course of a few weeks and look for patterns.

7. Take the data from your journal or chart (e.g., patterns you've discovered, observations on environments, etc.) and see if you can figure out what's behind the behavior. For example:
  • Maybe your child acts-out because “being good” gets him or her no attention.
  • Maybe your child explodes over something inconsequential because he has used up all his patience weathering frustrations earlier in the day.
  • Maybe your child begs for punishment because going to her room feels safer than dealing with a challenging situation.
  • Maybe your child balks at math when he or she sees too many problems on the page.

8. Once you have a working theory, make some changes in your youngster's environment to make it easier for him or her to behave appropriately. For example:
  • Recognize situations your child feels challenged by, and offer an alternative between compliance and disobedience.
  • Instead of being happy that your child seems to be handling frustrating situations, provide support earlier in the day so that his patience will hold out longer.
  • If your child’s worksheet has too many problems, fold it to expose only a row at a time, or cut a hole in a piece of paper and use it as a window to show only one or two problems at once.
  • Give your child lots of attention when she is being good - and none at all for bad behavior (other than just a quick and emotionless timeout).

You may not always guess right the first time, and not every change you try will work. Effective parents will have a big bag of tricks they can keep digging into until they find the one that works that day, that hour, that minute. But analyzing behavior and strategizing solutions will help you feel more in control, and your youngster will feel safer and more secure. This alone often cuts down on a lot of “misbehavior.”

The Plan—

The basic idea in developing a behavior-management plan for an HFA or AS youngster is to try many different strategies and find the management techniques that work best for him or her. This is an ongoing process. As working strategies are identified, they can be added to the plan and used when the child starts to get upset.

Some kids refer to their behavior-management plans as their “toolbox” and the specific strategies they use to control their behavior and emotions as their “tools.” This analogy may be very helpful. You can take this even further by creating a physical box for your child to put the strategies in (written on pieces of paper). And you could be really creative and have the pieces of paper shaped like various tools.

Again, it’s important to identify the specific behavior-management strategies that work best for your child. These strategies should be put down in a formal plan for referral when he or she encounters an aggravating event. It is also important to explore how different techniques may be used at different times.

Referring back to the toolbox, a screwdriver can be very useful, but not for pounding in nails. Application: An HFA or AS youngster may feel better after running around in the yard, but this may not be possible when he or she is getting upset about something in the classroom. Strategies need to be in place to handle the different situations that may arise.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Aspergers and HFA

No comments:

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

Click here to read the full article...

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

Click here to read the full article...

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Single Parent Discount On Our Ebooks

We've bundled four of our information products for one low price -- with struggling single moms and dads in mind. We know from first-hand experience that many single parents are struggling financially -- especially when they are raising a child with Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism.

Click here for your single parent discount ==> Parenting Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content