Aspergers and HFA Child Discipline 101

My 10-year-old son has been getting into trouble on multiple levels lately. He’s had two referrals at school within the last week, and his behavior at home is totally unacceptable. We've tried about everything we know to do at this point. How do you effectively discipline an obstinate child with autism (high functioning)?
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Leanne Strong said...

I have Asperger Syndrome myself, so I have something to add. Maybe your kid does this because he's feeling overwhelmed or anxious, or something else, but doesn't know how to communicate it. I saw something on YouTube about how to encourage the child to take a break when he starts having a meltdown. The teacher says, "Mr. Johnson needs another box of tissues. Will you please take it to him?" They also ask the kid if he needs to use the restroom, or if he wants to go get a drink of water. Or they evacuate everyone from the classroom except the student who is behaving badly.

I also used to behave badly towards people who had done something I thought was against the rules (even if it was a teacher). A lot of people on the Autism Spectrum have a very rigid way of thinking. They often have difficulty understanding what you say vs what you actually mean. If you explain things in very simply, they may think you actually mean it that way. If your child does something after s/he has already been asked not to, say something like, "Alex, why did you do that after I asked you not to?" Rather than saying stuff like, "Alex! When someone tells you not to do something, that means don't do it," or, "Ok, Alex (punishment or consequence), because I asked you not to do something, and you did it anyway." Of course, if there's no negotiation, and the behavior is not acceptable EVER, then say things like, "Tyler, no name calling, " or, "Tyler (punishment or consequence), because you called your sibling an idiot."

I also used to be mean to people who were behaving in ways I was taught were not ok. If this is what's going on, make sure to explain to your child (at a time when s/he is calm, of course), that some kids aren't taught about good and bad behavior at home, or don't get it in the same dosage as s/he does. Let's say your kid has been taught to say please and thank you, but s/he hears another kid demanding something

Parent: I heard you called Sam a butthead at school today.

Kid: yes

Parent: name calling is never ok (explain why). If I ever hear of you doing this again there will be severe consequences (list some of you feel it's necessary).

Kid: But during lunch today, Sam went to the lunch ladies and said, "I WANT SOME MORE MEATBALLS!" And s/he should know by now to say, "can I have some more meatballs, please?"

Parent: it's upsetting to you when people say rude things like that, isn't it.

Kid: yes, it is. Because Sam should know to ask politely!

Parent: I can understand why, because you have always been taught to be polite.

Kid: yeah

Parent: but maybe Sam's parents haven't taught him/her that. Or maybe s/he just doesn't get it in the same way you do, and maybe s/he just isn't ready for that next step yet.

Kid: maybe?

Parent: maybe next time someone does it, you can take them aside and remind them nicely about asking politely.

Shu Moor said...

Thank you so much this post was really helpful. I am at my wits end with my son who "possibly" may have a ASD,ADHD and mildly ODD. No real diagnosis given,still awaiting assessments since 2013. The more I read and research I know. My son is on a part-time table and is in a corridor. The school have had enough as he is a runner and want to permanently exclude him. He's just turned 8. Since they have changed 121 from the start of yr3 he is much more difficult to deal with some much so I was actually considering boarding school. whilst I now have 2 advocates working with me I am searching much more about what I can do- consistency is definitely the key however life is not always consistent, i.e death, pregnancy, redundancy with many visits to school, GP other children etc etc I take my hat off to the children and the parents it just hard all round. This goverment is not making it easier. They don't care and it's not fair, too many cuts is having a profound effect on people generally but it seems it's the families and children who are affected the most!

Teacher and parent of ASPIE said...

This is a lot of reading and can be daunting. I have a 15 year old with Asp. The best thing for any parent and child is to get an IEP at the school. They are bound BY LAW to abide by any and all accommodations that you see fit. If they do not comply, you have the right to sue them (which seems to be the only way to get anything done these days). I have been very successful with my son by staying calm, explaining everything in great detail, explicitly teaching social skills, and being highly consistent.

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