Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum to Be Calmer and More Collected

"I love both of my children equally, however the younger 'typical' child has a much better temperament than his autistic brother? Their personalities are as different as night and day! Any suggestions about how I can help my special needs child to be a bit more calm and collected?"

Children with ASD level 1, or High-Functioning Autism, often struggle to make sense of their surroundings and sense of their world. They exist in a body that does not always allow for accurate interpretation of their world, and they are unable to respond in a typical manner. The result of this can be challenging behavior.

For parents and professionals alike, interpreting this behavior can be difficult. Developing a plan to deal with the behavior is often even more challenging as it requires consistency and routine throughout the day and life of the autistic child.

Behavioral issues are often the result of a deficit in communication and sensory integration. Overload of the sensory system can result in a shutdown or a meltdown for the child. In order to change the behavioral challenges of the child, it is first necessary to understand exactly what is causing those behaviors. This will require focusing on the routine of the child, or lack thereof, and determining what happens immediately prior to the behavior, and what the end result is. This can take a great deal of time and effort, but well worth the end result.

A “functional analytic approach” to developing effective behavioral modification in ASD children and teens utilizes a process known as “functional behavioral assessment.” Functional behavioral assessment involves employing a variety of strategies (e.g., child-centered planning, treatment team meetings, systematic interviews, direct observations, etc.) to formulate hypotheses about why a child behaves the way he does. 

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