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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query behavior problem. Sort by date Show all posts

Finding Which Behavior Problems to Target First: Tips for Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Your child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS) seems to have a multitude of behavioral and emotional issues. Which ones should you attempt to address first? With so many problems, where do you start?

A careful analysis of the most problematic symptoms is crucial, because the choice of interventions is influenced by symptom traits. Moreover, the wide array of symptoms results in the tendency of those closest to the HFA or AS youngster to lose sight, over time, of the intervention targets.

When parents (and teachers) turn their attention to a new troubling cluster of symptoms, an intervention that has been effective may be reinterpreted as ineffective. Being attentive to symptom traits allows the parent to measure effects and introduce helpful responses. 
 
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens High-Functioning Autism

The most important traits to consider include the following:
  1. Distribution of the behavior problems
  2. Intensity of the behavior problems
  3. Onset: Time and Location of the behavior problems
  4. Duration of the behavior problems
  5. Ameliorating Factors for the behaviors
  6. Aggravating Factors for the behaviors
  7. Trends of the behavior problems: upward or downward

1. Distribution—

The distribution of behaviors is a term for the frequency of symptoms over time. It may be obvious, but it’s worth underscoring that for most kids on the autism spectrum, the frequency of symptoms changes within days, weeks, and months. Thus, having a good awareness of the course of a symptom is important for monitoring the behavior problem.

The early, short-term effects of a particular behavioral intervention may not be the most reliable ones for predicting the overall effect that intervention delivers. Frequency also is related to settings and circumstances. Aggression or perseverative behaviors often increase or appear under certain circumstances (e.g., when there are many people talking, or when there are crowds). As a result, for behaviors that are periodic, it’s useful to rate the behavior at the time when it’s most frequent or likely to surface, rather than a general rating throughout the day, week, or month. 
 
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens High-Functioning Autism

2. Intensity—

Intensity is a measure of the energy the child uses when engaging in the behavior. It also can be helpful to base this rating on the ease with which the child may be redirected to another, different line of behavior.

3. Onset: Time and Location—

The onset of symptoms is often related to a time and a location. The parent’s ability to know when and where symptoms surface, or under what circumstances they surface, is helpful in rating progress. When symptoms are concentrated to specific times or places, parents should first consider behavioral or educational interventions carefully. It may be that greater direction for certain activities, a break from interaction, or modifying the expectations for the HFA or AS youngster in an activity, will go a long way toward reducing maladaptive behaviors.

If a symptom only occurs in one setting, then this may lead the parent to consider intensive behavioral interventions first. More generalized behaviors can lend themselves more to pharmacologic treatments, because it can be difficult to maintain uniform responses across many different settings for behavioral interventions.

4. Duration—

Duration is self-explanatory.

5. and 6. Ameliorating and aggravating and factors—

These can indicate what triggers a behavior or what sustains it.

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

7. Trends—

The reason to consider the trend of a behavior (i.e., whether it’s increasing or decreasing) is that an intervention that is introduced as a behavior is winding down may be wrongly considered as having helped. Often, parents seek treatment for their child when a behavior is peaking in severity. For periodic situations, by the time a therapist intervenes, the behavior may be cycling down by itself. Thus, it’s often helpful to wait before intervening in order to learn about the pattern of a behavior.

Obviously, this can’t be considered when the risks to safety or jeopardy to other aspects of the child’s wellbeing prevent the therapist from taking this time. If there is some doubt about whether symptoms may respond to behavioral treatment, or if one is unsure whether things have improved or remained the same, the therapist should wait.

Case in point—

A 10-year-old girl with autism (high-functioning) was brought to treatment for picking behaviors that had become a part of her bedtime routine. Each night, she would dig at her arms. After extensive efforts by the parents to learn about the pattern of her behavior, it appeared that it was influenced by the course of interactions at school during the day. 

Although the child herself didn’t make the connection between being teased or having arguments with peers and her self-picking, it was possible to use relaxation techniques to reduce the intensity and duration of this behavior. In addition, the child’s mother and father were able to talk with her in the early evening about specific events from throughout the day that created angst before she went to bed. Overtime, the behaviors were significantly reduced (although they didn’t disappear altogether).


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Creating a Highly Effective "Behavior-Plan" for Children on the Autism Spectrum

"What are some of the parenting techniques that work best with children on the autism spectrum? As grandparents, we will soon be full-time parents to our 6 yo granddaughter (high functioning)."

Inappropriate behavior is common among many children with High Functioning Autism (HFA), especially when comorbid conditions exist as well (e.g., ADHD, OCD, anxiety). Knowing how to create and utilize behavior plans improves the home environment on multiple levels. 
 
The behavior plan is a great management tool for children engaging in unwanted behavior. It serves to teach and reinforce positive behaviors in the “special needs” child – and is a helpful way of documenting the success of the plan.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Common behavioral techniques for parents of kids on the spectrum include:
  • Contingency Management: A child receives a positive outcome or reward if certain conditions are met.
  • Modeling: The special needs child observes siblings receiving rewards for appropriate behavior.
  • Planned Ignoring: The parent ignores the problem behavior to reduce negative attention-seeking behaviors.
  • Proximity Control: This technique involves placing the child closer to the parent (e.g., at the dinner table), or when the parent comes closer to a child who is at risk of engaging in unwanted behavior.
  • Signal Interference: This involves having a planned signal with the child as a reminder to redirect inappropriate behavior.
  • Social Reinforcement: This is the effective use of parent-attention and praise to promote appropriate behavior (i.e., catch the child in the act of doing things right).
  • Token Reinforcement: The child receives a “token” when a clearly defined target behavior is performed. Tokens can be exchanged for a wide variety of reinforcers (e.g., special privileges). It is easily administered with checkmarks or stickers. Tokens should be given immediately after target behavior is performed.






Creating effective behavior plans for kids on the spectrum:
  1. Describe the targeted misbehavior (be specific)
  2. Obtain a baseline measure of misbehavior (i.e., frequency or duration of misbehavior)
  3. Determine what causes the behavior
  4. Determine what is reinforcing to a child
  5. Consider additional supports that might be needed
  6. Define roles of those involved in the intervention
  7. Document everything
  8. Use positive recognition and incentives
  9. Clear and consistent house-rules and consequences are important and can improve situations and prevent many problems

Motivating the special needs child:

Successful behavior plans require the child to become motivated. A parent must first determine what motivates the child by interviewing him or her. Create a menu of potential reinforcers that you are willing to give, and allow the child to choose from the menu.

All parents want their children to be intrinsically motivated (i.e., reinforcement directly from performing a task). Unfortunately, some special needs children are not intrinsically motivated for a variety of reasons. Extrinsic motivators (i.e., reinforcement from outside the performance of a task) are often used to motivate a child to engage in a more appropriate behavior.

Some parents believe that children should not be rewarded for something they should be doing already. But, extrinsic motivators should be temporary. The goal is to motivate the child extrinsically until he or she begins to feel success, and then use intrinsic motivation when the behavior is changed. Extrinsic motivators should be phased out over time to best allow intrinsic reinforcement to provide the motivation.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

An example of extrinsic-intrinsic motivation used properly:


A behavior plan is created for a special needs child who usually completes her school assignments – but consistently fails to turn them in to the teacher for credit. The child is initially rewarded with extra computer time each day she turns in her assignments (as reported by the teacher). After a few weeks of success, she receives a weekly reward for weeks that all assignments are handed in. 
 
She turned in assignments for the reward initially, but grades came up. Mom and dad were excited and stopped complaining, they gave praise, and as a result the child began to feel proud of herself. She became intrinsically motivated and no longer needed an extrinsic motivator to be successful with turning in assignments.

Evaluating the behavior plan:

After creating a behavior plan, it is important to evaluate the outcomes. With good baseline data, it will be fairly easy to measure the behavior again and compare. If the plan is working like it should, gradually encourage more independence from your child. If it is not working like expected, determine what is at fault, and revise and monitor closely. Behavior plans that are implemented inconsistently usually fail.




More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 



 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Having the same struggle at home and at school with 11 yr old son. Might have to try some if the suggestions
•    Anonymous said... I also homeschool and use gametime as incentive and reward for full day of school or whatever is required.
•    Anonymous said... I feel for you Tonya as we've had similar situations in our home with our 9 1/2 year old daughter. I've learned that work first before any video games or Ipod is the best result for us. We use that as a reward system instead of an entitlement and so far so good! Good luck!
•    Anonymous said... My son is 13 and he just acts like theres no one else that matters but him. He makes up reasons why he cant help us do anything..and just sits in his room playing his video games. If we do ask him to do something anything, he freaks out and yells at us. My husband is his step dad and thinks i should just spank him but i no that isnt going to work. Help how do i handle this.

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Behavioral Interventions for Children with ASD [Level 1]

 "We're trying not to use the same discipline methods with our autistic child (high functioning) that we use with the other two children, but we fall back into old habits and end up using traditional methods that usually backfire. Any suggestions?"

Many kids and teenagers with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are prone to behavior problems, and on occasion, aggression. Even though frequently motivated to be near to – and to socially interact with – peers and grown-ups, young people with HFA are deficient in age-appropriate, reciprocal social interaction skills (e.g., those required to participate in cooperative play and related activities).

A propensity for socially unacceptable behavior and insensitivity to – or unawareness of – verbal and nonverbal social cues makes these “special needs” kids vulnerable to displaying a variety of behavior problems. Accordingly, parents and teachers must provide appropriate instruction and supports for HFA children to progress and experience success at home, school, and in the community.



Traditional discipline may fail to produce the desired results for kids with HFA, mostly because they have difficulty appreciating the consequences of their actions. Therefore, punitive measures are apt to exacerbate the type of behavior the punishment is intended to reduce, while at the same time giving rise to distress in both the parent (or teacher) and child.

The same basic behavior management model that is used with “typical” kids can also be applied when crafting management supports for kids on the autism spectrum. That is, teams of parents and professionals should cooperatively:
  • target socially valid and pivotal responses for change
  • ensure careful measurement of targeted responses selected for change
  • systematically analyze behaviors that are identified for change relative to their functions and environmental and antecedent factors connected to their occurrence
  • select and systematically implement and evaluate appropriate interventions and treatments

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Behavioral interventions entail manipulation of antecedent conditions (i.e., what happens immediately prior to the behavior problem) as well as use of consequences for targeted behaviors. Approaches that seem to work best with these young people give them an opportunity to participate in developing and implementing their own behavior management systems. Thus, whenever possible, HFA kids should be involved in their own program development and implementation.

In order to be successful, behavioral interventions should be applied consistently across all areas of the youngster’s life. Also, the longer a particular problematic behavior has been evident, the longer it will take to change it. Therefore, it may take a while for the chosen strategies to be effective. The job for parents and teachers is to focus on the behavior they would like to increase or decrease.

One specific behavioral intervention that has been found to be useful with many kids on the spectrum is cognitive behavior modification. This is a strategy that teaches the child to monitor his own behavior or performance, and to deliver self-reinforcement at established intervals. In this technique, the locus of behavior control is shifted from an external source (e.g., the parent or teacher) to the child.




Cognitive behavior modification can be used to facilitate a variety of behavior changes, including following various specific house and classroom rules, and attending to assigned tasks at home and school. The following is an example of this technique:

One AS teen was assisted in monitoring and changing his "stalking" behavior at school. The teen had become a concern to school officials and his mother because of his serial interest in attractive girls in his school (none of whom he knew personally). His obsession with any one female student typically lasted less than a week. But during this time, he attempted to walk with these girls from class to class, sit with them at lunch, etc., at every opportunity.

Even though the female students protested loudly and did not encourage the AS teen’s interest in any way, it had no impact on his behavior! Furthermore, negative consequences for this behavior (e.g., detention, suspension) only seemed to exacerbate the problem.

However, the AS teen did respond positively to a cognitive behavior management program. His school counselor and homeroom teacher used a videotaped sequence of his stalking behavior to assist him in understanding that his behavior was inappropriate. He then was:
  • instructed to use a self-monitoring system structured by the school's bell system for signaling transitions
  • taught to use a self-recording system related to his contact with his peers
  • taught to use a self-reinforcement system

 ==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism

The self-reinforcement he selected was to spend time with classmates who agreed to sit with him at lunch and walk with him during class transitions. Social skill instruction related to his behavior during these peer contacts also proved to be beneficial.

It is crucial that parents and teachers recognize – and plan for – problems related to aggression and violence. Not all HFA children have these problems, and most are not inherently aggressive. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that problems of aggression in some of these young people do arise from time to time.

The social deficits connected with HFA (e.g., difficulty in engaging in age-appropriate reciprocal play) frequently create problems and frustrations that may escalate into aggressive responses and counter-actions. For instance, one youngster with AS had difficulty interacting with friends as a result of not understanding commonly known and accepted social rules, As a result, he gave the appearance of being rude and unwilling to follow generally understood game rules.

With some planning on the part of parents and teachers – and hard work on the part of the HFA child – social skills can be learned and practiced on a daily basis. It may not come naturally, but it is very possible for young people on the autism spectrum to discover the basic ability in socialize in an acceptable manner.


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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…

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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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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...

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Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the 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…

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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 ASD 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…

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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...

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Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

ASD: Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns - What Parents Need to Know

Question

My eldest boy J___ who is now 5-years-old was diagnosed with ASD (level 1) last July. We did 6 months of intense therapy with a child psychologist and a speech therapist before we moved over to Ghana. J___ has settled in well. He has adjusted to school very well and the teachers who are also expats from England are also dealing with him extremely well.

My current issue is his anger. At the moment if the situations are not done exactly his way he has a meltdown. Symptoms are: Extreme ear piercing screaming, intense crying, to falling down on the floor saying he is going to die. I have tried to tell him to breathe but his meltdown is so intense that his body just can't listen to words. I then have asked him to go to his room to calm down. He sometimes (very rarely) throws things across the room, but does not physically hurt anyone. As I have two younger boys (ages 1 and 3) I still need to be aware of their safety. I then managed to put J___ in his room with the help of a nanny. He throws all blankets off the bed (which doesn't bother me) and then hides under them. Today I waited 10 minutes then went upstairs to talk to him, but he then started again with the extreme crying and screaming at me. It took him over an hour to calm down fully. The situation arose as the nanny and I were helping him to make muffins and the nanny put a spoonful of the mixture into the muffin tin.

I am requesting your help on ways to calm him down in a manner that is acceptable. He is getting too old to be put in the "thinking corner/naughty corner" and I am a petite person so I'm not going to physically put him there. I am finding his resistance at the moment is a lot with me and his father.

I have structures in place by visual laminated pictures of how the morning is run and the structure before bed. This works fine, but like I said when things aren't done exactly his way, he can have an outburst in a flash. Please give me some strategies on how I can better manage these meltdowns.

FYI - he was diagnosed on the border on the CARS model. I have found a qualified speech therapist who is from England which we go to once a week (but as it is summer break we don't go back to August) to assist with his pragmatic language.


Answer

Problems related to stress and anxiety are common in kids with ASD (high-functioning autism). In fact, this combination has been shown to be one of the most frequently observed comorbid symptoms in these children. They are often triggered by or result directly from environmental stressors, such as:
  • a sense of loss of control
  • an inherent emotional vulnerability
  • difficulty in predicting outcomes
  • having to face challenging social situations with inadequate social awareness
  • misperception of social events
  • rigidity in moral judgment that results from a concrete sense of social justice violations.
  • social problem-solving skills
  • social understanding

The stress experienced by kids with ASD may manifest as withdrawal, reliance on obsessions related to circumscribed interests or unhelpful rumination of thoughts, inattention, and hyperactivity, although it may also trigger aggressive or oppositional defiant behavior, often captured by therapists as tantrums, rage, and “meltdowns”.
 

Educators, therapists, and moms/dads often report that kids on the spectrum exhibit a sudden onset of aggressive or oppositional behavior. This escalating sequence is similar to what has been described in children on the spectrum, and seems to follow a three-stage cycle as described below. Although non-autistic kids may recognize and react to the potential for behavioral outbursts early in the cycle, many kids and teenagers with the disorder often endure the entire cycle, unaware that they are under stress (i.e., they do not perceive themselves as having problems of conduct, aggression, hyperactivity, withdrawal, etc.).

Because of the combination of innate stress and anxiety and the difficulty of kids with ASD to understand how they feel, it is important that those who work and live with them understand the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns, and the interventions that can be used to promote self-calming, self-management, and self-awareness as a means of preventing or decreasing the severity of behavior problems.

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The Cycle of Meltdowns

Meltdowns typically occur in three stages that can be of variable length. These stages are (1) the “acting-in” stage, (2) the “acting-out” stage, and (3) the recuperation stage.

The “Acting-In” Stage

The “acting-in” stage is the initial stage of a tantrum, rage, or meltdown. During this stage, kids and teenagers on the autism spectrum exhibit specific behavior changes that may not seem to be related directly to a meltdown. The behaviors may seem minor. That is, children with ASD may clear their throats, lower their voices, tense their muscles, tap their foot, grimace, or otherwise indicate general discontent. Furthermore, somatic complaints also may occur during the “acting-in” stage. Kids also may engage in behaviors that are more obvious, including emotionally or physically withdrawing, or verbally or physically affecting someone else. For example, the youngster may challenge the classroom structure or authority by attempting to engage in a power struggle.

During this stage, it is imperative that a mother/father or educator intervene without becoming part of a struggle. The following interventions can be effective in stopping the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns – and they are invaluable in that they can help the youngster regain control with minimal adult support:

1. Intervention #1 involves displaying a chart or visual schedule of expectations and events, which can provide security to kids and teenagers with ASD who typically need predictability. This technique also can be used as advance preparation for a change in routine. Informing kids of schedule changes can prevent anxiety and reduce the likelihood of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns (e.g., the youngster who is signaling frustration by tapping his foot may be directed to his schedule to make him aware that after he completes two more problems he gets to work on a topic of special interest with a peer). While running errands, moms and dads can use support from routine by alerting the youngster in the “acting-in” stage that their next stop will be at a store the youngster enjoys.

2. Intervention #2 involves helping the youngster to focus on something other than the task or activity that seems to be upsetting. One type of redirection that often works well when the source of the behavior is a lack of understanding is telling the youngster that he can “cartoon” the situation to figure out what to do. Sometimes cartooning can be postponed briefly. At other times, the youngster may need to cartoon immediately.

3. Intervention #3 involves making the autistic child’s school environment as stress-free as possible by providing him/her with a “home-base.”. A home-base is a place in the school where the child can “escape.” The home-base should be quiet with few visual or activity distractions, and activities should be selected carefully to ensure that they are calming rather than alerting. In school, resource rooms or counselors' offices can serve as a home-base. The structure of the room supersedes its location. At home, the home-base may be the youngster's room or an isolated area in the house. Regardless of its location, however, it is essential that the home-base is viewed as a positive environment. Home-base is not “timeout” or an escape from classroom tasks or chores. The youngster takes class work to home-base, and at home, chores are completed after a brief respite in the home-base. Home-base may be used at times other than during the “acting-in” stage (e.g., at the beginning of the day, a home base can serve to preview the day's schedule, introduce changes in the typical routine, and ensure that the youngster's materials are organized or prime for specific subjects). At other times, home-base can be used to help the youngster gain control after a meltdown.

4. Intervention #4 involves paying attention to cues from the child. When the youngster with begins to exhibit a precursor behavior (e.g., throat clearing, pacing), the educator uses a nonverbal signal to let the youngster know that she is aware of the situation (e.g., the educator can place herself in a position where eye contact with the youngster can be achieved, or an agreed-upon “secret” signal, such as tapping on a desk, may be used to alert the youngster that he is under stress). A “signal” may be followed by a stress relief strategy (e.g., squeezing a stress ball). In the home or community, moms and dads may develop a signal (i.e., a slight hand movement) that the mother/father uses with their youngster is in the “acting-in” stage. 
 

5. Intervention #5 involves removing a youngster, in a non-punitive fashion, from the environment in which he is experiencing difficulty. At school, the youngster may be sent on an errand. At home, the youngster may be asked to retrieve an object for a mother/father. During this time the youngster has an opportunity to regain a sense of calm. When he returns, the problem has typically diminished in magnitude and the grown-up is on hand for support, if needed.

6. Intervention #6 is a strategy where the educator moves near the youngster who is engaged in the target behavior. Moms/dads and teachers move near the autistic youngster. Often something as simple as standing next to the youngster is calming. This can easily be accomplished without interrupting an ongoing activity (e.g., the educator who circulates through the classroom during a lesson).

7. Intervention #7 is a technique in which the mother/father or educator merely walks with the youngster without talking. Silence on the part of the grown-up is important, because a youngster with ASD in the “acting-in” stage will likely react emotionally to any adult statement, misinterpreting it or rephrasing it beyond recognition. On this walk the youngster can say whatever he wishes without fear of discipline or reprimand. In the meantime, the grown-up should be calm, show as little reaction as possible, and never be confrontational.

8. Intervention #8 is a technique that is effective when the youngster is in the midst of the “acting-in” stage because of a difficult task, and the mother/father or educator thinks that the youngster can complete the activity with support. The mother/father or educator offers a brief acknowledgement that supports the verbalizations of the youngster and helps him complete his task. For instance, when working on a math problem the youngster begins to say, “This is too hard.” Knowing the youngster can complete the problem, the educator refocuses the youngster's attention by saying, “Yes, the problem is difficult. Let's start with number one.” This brief direction and support may prevent the youngster from moving past the “acting-in” stage.

When selecting an intervention during the “acting-in” stage, it is important to know the youngster, as the wrong technique can escalate rather than deescalate a behavior problem. Further, although interventions at this stage do not require extensive time, it is advisable that grown-ups understand the events that precipitate the target behaviors so that they can (1) be ready to intervene early, or (2) teach kids and teenagers strategies to maintain behavior control during these times. Interventions at this stage are merely calming. They do not teach kids to recognize their own frustration or provide a means of handling it. Techniques to accomplish these goals are discussed later.

The “Acting-Out” Stage

If behavior is not diffused during the “acting-in” stage, the youngster or adolescent may move to the “acting-out” stage. At this point, the youngster is dis-inhibited and acts impulsively, emotionally, and sometimes explosively. These behaviors may be externalized (i.e., screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, destroying property, or self-injury) or internalized (i.e., withdrawal). Meltdowns are not purposeful, and once the “acting-out” stage begins, most often it must run its course.

During this stage, emphasis should be placed on youngster, peer, and adult safety, and protection of school, home, or personal property. The best way to cope with a tantrum, rage, or meltdown is to get the youngster to home base. As mentioned, this room is not viewed as a reward or disciplinary room, but is seen as a place where the youngster can regain self-control.

Of importance here is helping the individual with ASD regain control and preserve dignity. To that end, grown-ups should have developed plans for (1) obtaining assistance from educators, such as a crisis educator or principal, (2) removing other kids from the area, or (3) providing therapeutic restraint, if necessary. 

The Recuperation Stage

Following a meltdown, the youngster has contrite feelings and often cannot fully remember what occurred during the “acting-out” stage. Some may become sullen, withdraw, or deny that inappropriate behavior occurred; others are so physically exhausted that they need to sleep.

It is imperative that interventions are implemented at a time when the youngster can accept them and in a manner the youngster can understand and accept. Otherwise, the intervention may simply resume the cycle in a more accelerated pattern, leading more quickly to the “acting-out” stage. During the recuperation stage, kids often are not ready to learn. Thus, it is important that grown-ups work with them to help them once again become a part of the routine. This is often best accomplished by directing the youth to a highly motivating task that can be easily accomplished, such as activity related to a special interest.

Preventing Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns

Kids and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder generally do not want to engage in meltdowns. Rather, the “acting-out” cycle is the only way they know of expressing stress, coping with problems, and a host of other emotions to which they see no other solution. Most want to learn methods to manage their behavior, including calming themselves in the face of problems and increasing self-awareness of their emotions. The best intervention for tantrums, rage, and meltdowns is prevention. Prevention occurs best as a multifaceted approach consisting of instruction in (1) strategies that increase social understanding and problem solving, (2) techniques that facilitate self-understanding, and (3) methods of self-calming.
 

Increasing Social Understanding and Problem Solving

Enhancement of social understanding includes providing direct assistance. Although instructional strategies are beneficial, it is almost impossible to teach all the social skills that are needed in day-to-day life. Instead, these skills often are taught in an interpretive manner after the youngster has engaged in an unsuccessful or otherwise problematic encounter. Interpretation skills are used in recognition that, no matter how well developed the skills of a person with ASD, situations will arise that he or she does not understand. As a result, someone in the person's environment must serve as a social management interpreter.

The following interpretative strategies can help turn seemingly random actions into meaningful interactions for young people on the spectrum:

1. Analyzing a social skills problem is a good interpretative strategy. Following a social error, the youngster who committed the error works with an adult to (1) identify the error, (2) determine who was harmed by the error, (3) decide how to correct the error, and (4) develop a plan to prevent the error from occurring again. A social skills analysis is not “punishment.” Rather, it is a supportive and constructive problem-solving strategy. The analyzing process is particularly effective in enabling the youngster to see the cause/effect relationship between her social behavior and the reactions of others in her environment. The success of the strategy lies in its structure of practice, immediate feedback, and positive reinforcement. Every grown-up with whom the youngster with ASD has regular contact, such as moms and dads, educators, and therapists, should know how to do social skills analysis fostering skill acquisition and generalization. Originally designed to be verbally based, the strategy has been modified to include a visual format to enhance child learning.

2. Visual symbols such as “cartooning” have been found to enhance the processing abilities of persons in the autism spectrum, to enhance their understanding of the environment, and to reduce tantrums, rage, and meltdowns. One type of visual support is cartooning. Used as a generic term, this technique has been implemented by speech and language pathologists for many years to enhance understanding in their clients. Cartoon figures play an integral role in several intervention techniques: pragmaticism, mind-reading, and comic strip conversations. Cartooning techniques, such as comic strip conversations, allow the youngster to analyze and understand the range of messages and meanings that are a natural part of conversation and play. Many kids with ASD are confused and upset by teasing or sarcasm. The speech and thought bubble as well as choice of colors can illustrate the hidden messages.

Conclusion—

Although many kids and teenagers on the spectrum exhibit anxiety that may lead to challenging behaviors, stress and subsequent behaviors should be viewed as an integral part of the disorder. As such, it is important to understand the cycle of behaviors to prevent seemingly minor events from escalating. Although understanding the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns is important, behavior changes will not occur unless the function of the behavior is understood and the youngster is provided instruction and support in using (1) strategies that increase social understanding and problem solving, (2) techniques that facilitate self-understanding, and (3) methods of self-calming.

Children experiencing stress may react by having a tantrum, rage, or meltdown. Behaviors do not occur in isolation or randomly; they are associated most often with a reason or cause. The youngster who engages in an inappropriate behavior is attempting to communicate. Before selecting an intervention to be used during the “acting-out” cycle or to prevent the cycle from occurring, it is important to understand the function or role the target behavior plays.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


References—

• Albert, L. (1989). A teacher’s guide to cooperative discipline: How to manage your classroom and promote self-esteem. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
• Andrews, J.F., & Mason, J.M. (1991). Strategy usage among deaf and hard of hearing readers. Exceptional Children, 57, 536-545.
• Arwood, E., & Brown, M.M. (1999). A guide to cartooning and flowcharting: See the ideas. Portland, OR: Apricot.
• Attwood T. (1998). Asperger’s Syndrome: A guide to parents and professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley.
• Barnhill, G. P. (2001). Social attribution and depression in adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 46-53.
• Barnhill, G.P. (2005). Functional behavioral assessments in schools. Intervention in School and Clinic, 40(3), 131-143.
• Barnhill, G.P., Hagiwara, T., Myles, B.S., Simpson, R.L., Brick, M.L., & Griswold, D.E. (2000). Parent, teacher, and self-report of problem and adaptive behaviors in children and adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Diagnostique, 25, 147-167.
• Beck, M. (1987). Understanding and managing the acting-out child. The Pointer, 29(2), 27-29.
• Bieber, J. (1994). Learning disabilities and social skills with Richard LaVoie: Last one picked ... first one picked on. Washington, DC: Public Broadcasting Service.
• Bock, M.A. (2001). SODA strategy: Enhancing the social interaction skills of youngsters with Asperger syndrome. Intervention in School and Clinic, 36, 272-278.
• Bock, M.A. (2002, April, 30). The impact of social behavioral learning strategy training on the social interaction skills of eight students with Asperger syndrome. YAI National Institute for People with Disabilities 23rd International Conference on MR/DD, New York.
• Buron, K.D., & Curtis, M. (2003). The incredible 5-point scale. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
• Church, C., Alisanski, S., & Amanullah, S. (2000). The social behavioral and academic experiences of children with Asperger syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 15, 12-20.
• Dunn, W. (1999). The Sensory Profile: A contextual measure of children’s responses to sensory experiences in daily life. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.
• Dunn, W., Myles, B.S., & Orr, S. (2002). Sensory processing issues associated with Asperger Syndrome: A preliminary investigation. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(1), 97-102.
• Ghaziuddin, M., Weidmar-Mikhail, E., & Ghaziuddin, N. (1998). Comorbidity of Asperger Syndrome: A preliminary report. Autism, 42, 279-283.
• Gray, C. (1995). Social stories unlimited: Social stories and comic strip conversations. Jenison, MI: Jenison Public Schools.
• Hagiwara, T., & Myles, B.S. (1999). A multimedia social story intervention: Teaching skills to children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 14, 82-95.
• Henry Occupational Therapy Services, Inc. (1998). Tool chest: For teachers, parents, and students. Youngstown, AZ: Author.
• Howlin, P., Baron-Cohen, S., & Hadwin, J. (1999). Teaching children with autism to mind-read: A practical guide. London: Wiley.
• Kim, J.A., Szatmari, P., Bryson, S.E., Streiner, D.L., & Wilson, F.J. (2000). The prevalence of anxiety and mood problems among children with autism and Asperger Syndrome. Autism, 4, 117-32
• Klin, A., & Volkmar, F.R. (2000). Treatment and intervention guidelines for individuals with Asperger Syndrome. In A. Klin, F.R. Volkmar, & S.S. Sparrow (Eds.), Asperger Syndrome (pp. 240-366). New York: The Guilford Press.
• Kuttler, S., Myles, B.S., & Carlson, J.K. (1998). The use of social stories to reduce precursors of tantrum behavior in a student with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 13,176-182.
• Long, N.J., Morse, W.C., & Newman, R.G. (1976). Conflict in the classroom: Educating children with problems (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
• McAfee, J. (2002). Navigating the social world: A curriculum for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome, high functioning autism and related disorders. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.
• Myles B.S., & Southwick, J. (2005). Asperger Syndrome and difficult moments: Practical solutions for tantrums, rage, and meltdowns (2 nd ed.). Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
• Myles, B.S., & Simpson, R.L. (2001). Understanding the hidden curriculum: An essential social skill for children and youth with Asperger syndrome. Intervention in School and Clinic, 36, 279-286.
• Myles, B.S., & Simpson, R.L. (2002). Students with Asperger Syndrome: Implications for counselors. Counseling and Human Development, 34(7), 1-14.
• Myles, B.S., Cook, K.T., Miller, N.E., Rinner, L., & Robbins, L. (2000). Asperger Syndrome and sensory issues: Practical solutions for making sense of the world. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
• Myles, B.S., Hagiwara, T., Dunn, W., Rinner, L., Reese, M., Huggins, A., & Becker, S. (2004). Sensory issues in children with Asperger Syndrome and autism. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 3, 283-290.
• Myles, B.S., Trautman, M.L., & Schelvan, R.L. (2004). The hidden curriculum: Practical solutions for understanding unstated rules in social situations. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
• Rogers, M.F., & Myles, B.S. (2001). Using social stories and comic strip conversations to interpret social situations for an adolescent with Asperger Syndrome. Intervention in School and Clinic, 36, 310-313.
• Roosa, J.B. (1995). Men on the move: Competence and cooperation: Conflict resolution and beyond. Kansas City, MO: Author.
• Williams, M.W., & Shellenberger, S. (1996). How does your engine run? A leader’s guide to the Alert Program for Self-Regulation. Albuquerque, NM: Therapy Works.

Avoiding Negative Reinforcement in the Classroom: Tips for Teachers with Aspergers Students

Negative reinforcement requires the student to work for the removal of an in-place, unpleasant consequence. The student's goal is to get rid of something that is unpleasant rather than to earn something that is desirable. In a negative reinforcement model, instead of working to earn a positive consequence, the student works to distance himself from an aversive consequence.

Negative reinforcement is often used in the classroom to manage problem behaviors in Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) children. Educators inadvertently pay attention to a student who may not be complying and withdraw their attention contingent on the student's compliance. Surprisingly, this strengthens rather than weakens the noncompliant behavior. The next time a similar situation occurs, the student again will not comply until confronted with the aversive consequence (i.e. the teacher's attention). Negative reinforcement is often seductive and coercive for educators. It works in the short run, but in the long run, is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the undesirable behavior.

Behaviors that in-and-of themselves may not be negative become negative reinforcers when paired with certain events. For example, a teacher approaching a student who is not working quickly becomes a negative reinforcer, even though the action itself, the teacher walking up to the student, does not have a negative connotation. Researchers found that negative reinforcement was rated by educators as the most frequently used classroom intervention. Kids with Aspergers often experience negative reinforcement because of their temperament, which makes it difficult for them to complete tasks – their consequent learning history reinforces them for beginning, but rarely for finishing.

A number of simple, effective ways exist to deal with this problem. If you, the teacher, are using negative reinforcement, pay attention to the student until the assignment is completed. Although this too is negative reinforcement, it teaches the student that the only way to get rid of the aversive consequence (i.e., your attention) is not just to start – but to complete the task at hand. As an example, you may move the student's desk next to your desk until that particular piece of work is completed.

A second alternative involves the use of differential attention or ignoring. The term differential attention applies when “ignoring” is used as the negative consequence for exhibiting the undesirable behavior and “attention” is used as a positive consequence for exhibiting the competing desirable behavior. This is an active process in which the teacher ignores the student engaged in an ‘off-task’ activity, but pays attention immediately when the student begins working. Many educators avoid interaction with the student when she is ‘on-task’ for fear of interrupting the student's train of thought. It is important, however, to reinforce the student when working so that a pattern of working to earn positive reinforcement rather than working to avoid negative reinforcement is developed.

Secondary school educators at times complain that if they ignore the Aspergers student during an hour-long class, they never have the opportunity to pay positive attention as the student may never exhibit positive behavior. Waiting, however, even if one has to wait until the next day, is more effective in the long run than paying attention to ‘off-task’ behavior.

Educators need to make a distinction between ‘off-task’ behavior that ‘disrupts’ and ‘off-task’ behavior that ‘does not disrupt’. Differential attention works effectively for the latter. However, when a student is ‘off-task’ and disturbing his neighbor, you may find that being a negative reinforcer holds an advantage in stemming the tide of an ‘off-task’ behavior that involves other children as well. Differential attention alone has been demonstrated to be ineffective in maintaining high rates of ‘on-task’ behavior and work productivity for children with Aspergers. In part, it is suggested that many factors other than teacher attention maintain and influence student behavior.

Differential attention is a powerful intervention when used appropriately. Once the strategy of ignoring inappropriate behavior is employed, it must be continued despite escalation. If not, the teacher runs the risk of intermittently reinforcing the negative behavior, thereby strengthening its occurrence. For example, if you decide to use differential attention for a student's out-of-seat behavior, but become sufficiently frustrated after the student is out of his seat for 10 minutes and respond by directing attention to the student, the behavior will be reinforced rather than extinguished. The 10 minutes of ignoring will quickly be lost in the one incident of negative attention. If the teacher shouts, "You need to down!" …the student has received the desired attention by persisting in a negative behavior.

Researchers evaluated rules, praise, and ignoring for inappropriate behavior in two Aspergers kids in a typical second-grade classroom and in one Aspergers student in a kindergarten class. The results indicated that in the absence of praise, rules and ignoring were ineffective. Inappropriate behavior decreased only after praise was added. Others have demonstrated the importance of praise in a general education classroom. Specifically, whenever teacher approval was withdrawn, disruptive behaviors increased.

Kids with Aspergers perform as well as typical kids with a continuous schedule of reinforcement, but perform significantly worse with a partial schedule of reinforcement (e.g. reinforcement is provided only sometimes), which is typically found in most classrooms. Praise is important for the development of other attributes in kids (e.g., self-esteem, school attitude, motivation toward academics, etc). In addition, the opposite is also true: A large amount of punishment can negatively affect emotional development and self-esteem.

P.S. Parents are encouraged to copy, paste and print the information above and share it with their Aspergers child's teacher(s).



COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Our special Ed teacher really helped son interact in group discussions. The kids were use to ignoring my son but taught them to see his thoughts as valid while teaching him how properly give and take. Now he can join without being shutout.
•    Anonymous said... I would have loved to show this to my son's 3rd grade teacher! That lady was a piece of work!
•    Anonymous said... I have a child with that is an aspie. He is now 18 and an amazing young man. I never used negative reinforcement. They are so emotional and so fragile. I totally disagree with negative reinforcement. It is unnecessary. They want acceptment. They don't think like "normal" people. When they act out they need a hug and to be explained to that what they did was wrong. They need people and parents that understand where they are and to be ready for uncommon circumstances. They are special and need to be treated as such.

Post your comments below..

Obsessions in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"Why is my 6-year-old son (high functioning autistic) so engrossed in Minecraft, and how can I tell if it is an unhealthy obsession rather than just a fun time activity for him?"

The intensity and duration of the child’s interest in a particular topic, object or collection is what determines whether or not it has become an “obsession.” Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) will often learn a lot about a thing they are obsessed with, be intensely interested in it for a long time, and feel strongly about it. There are several reasons why these kids may develop obsessions, including:
  • they can get a lot of enjoyment from learning about a particular subject or gathering together items of interest
  • those who find social interaction difficult might use their special interests as a way to start conversations and feel more self-assured in social situations
  • obsessions may help children cope with the uncertainties of daily life
  • obsessions may help children to relax and feel happy
  • obsessions may provide order and predictability
  • obsessions may provide structure
 
Many children with Aspergers and HFA have sensory sensitivity and may be over- or under-sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch. This sensitivity can also affect children’s balance ('vestibular' system) and body awareness ('proprioception' or knowing where our bodies are and how they are moving). Obsessions and repetitive behavior can be a way to deal with sensory sensitivity.



Although repetitive behavior varies from child to child, the reasons behind it may be the same:
  •  a source of enjoyment and occupation
  • a way to deal with stress and anxiety and to block out uncertainty
  • an attempt to gain sensory input (e.g., rocking may be a way to stimulate the balance or vestibular system; hand-flapping may provide visual stimulation)
  • an attempt to reduce sensory input (e.g., focusing on one particular sound may reduce the impact of a loud, distressing environment; this may particularly be seen in social situations)
  • some adolescents may revert to old repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand-flapping, rocking if anxious or stressed)

Reality to a child on the autism spectrum is a confusing, interacting mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights. Set routines, times, particular routes and rituals all help to get order into an unbearably chaotic life. Trying to keep everything the same reduces some of the terrible fear.

Many children with the disorder have a strong preference for routines and sameness. Routines often serve an important function. For example, they introduce order, structure and predictability and help to manage anxiety. Because of this, it can be very distressing if the child’s routine is disrupted.
 
Sometimes minor changes (e.g., moving between two activities) can be distressing. For others, big events (e.g., holidays, birthdays, Christmas, etc.), which create change and upheaval, can cause anxiety. Unexpected changes are often most difficult to deal with. 

Some children on the spectrum have daily timetables so that they know what is going to happen, when. However, the need for routine and sameness can extend beyond this. You might see:
  •  a need for routine around daily activities such as meals or bedtime
  • changes to the physical environment (e.g., the layout of furniture in a room), or the presence of new people or absence of familiar ones, being difficult to manage
  • compulsive behavior (e.g., the child might be constantly washing his hands or checking locks)
  • rigid preferences about things like food (e.g., only eating food of a certain color), clothing (e.g., only wearing clothes made from specific fabrics), or everyday objects (e.g., only using particular types of soap or brands of toilet paper)
  • routines can become almost ritualistic in nature, having to be followed precisely with attention paid to the tiniest details
  • verbal rituals, with a child repeatedly asking the same questions and needing a specific answer

Children's dependence on routines can increase during times of change, stress or illness and may even become more dominant or elaborate at these times. Dependence on routines may increase or re-emerge during adolescence. Routines can have a profound effect on the lives of children with Aspergers and HFA, their family and care-takers, but it is possible to make a child less reliant on them.

Obsessions versus Hobbies—

Most of us have hobbies, interests and a preference for routine. Here are five questions that can help us distinguish between hobbies/interests versus obsessive behavior:
  1. Can the child stop the behavior independently?
  2. Does the child appear distressed when engaging in the behavior or does the child give signs that he is trying to resist the behavior (e.g., someone who flaps their hands may try to sit on their hands to prevent the behavior)?
  3. Is the behavior causing significant disruption to others (e.g., moms and dads, care-takers, peers, siblings)?
  4. Is the behavior impacting on the child’s learning?
  5. Is the behavior limiting the child’s social opportunities?

If your answer to any of the questions above is 'yes', it may be appropriate to look at ways of helping your youngster to reduce obsessive or repetitive behavior. Think about whether, by setting limits around a particular behavior, you are really helping your youngster. Is the behavior actually a real issue for him, for you, or for other people in his life?

Focus on developing skills that your youngster can use instead of repetitive or obsessive behavior. Try to understand the function of the behavior, then make small, gradual changes and be consistent. Here are some ideas to help you:

1.     Coping with change: If unexpected changes occur, and your youngster is finding it hard to cope, try re-directing them to a calming activity, or encourage them to use simple relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises. You could use praise or other rewards for coping with change. In the long term, this may help make your youngster more tolerant of change.

2.     Explore alternative activities: One way to interrupt repetitive behavior is for a youngster to do another enjoyable activity that has the same function (e.g., a youngster who flicks their fingers for visual stimulation could play with a kaleidoscope or a bubble gun;  a youngster who puts inedible objects in their mouth could have a bag with edible alternatives that provide similar sensory experiences such as raw pasta or spaghetti, or seeds and nuts; a youngster who rocks to get sensory input could go on a swing; a youngster who smears their poop could have a bag with play dough in it to use instead).

3.     Intervene early: Repetitive behaviors, obsessions and routines are generally harder to change the longer they continue.  A behavior that is perhaps acceptable in a young child may not be appropriate as they get older and may, by this time, be very difficult to change. For example, a youngster who is obsessed with shoes and tries to touch people's feet might not present too much of a problem, but a teenager doing the same thing - especially to strangers - will obviously be problematic. It will help if you can set limits around repetitive behaviors from an early age and look out for any new behavior that emerges as your youngster gets older. Making your youngster's environment and surroundings more structured can help them to feel more in control and may reduce anxiety. If anxiety is reduced, the need to engage in repetitive behavior and adhere strictly to routines may also, in time, be reduced.

4.     Pre-planning: You may be able to help your youngster to cope with change, or activities and events that could be stressful, by planning for them in advance.  Change is unavoidable, but it can be really difficult for many children with the disorder. You may not always be able to prepare for change a long time in advance, but try to give your youngster as much warning as possible. Gradually introducing the idea of a new person, place, object or circumstance can help them cope with the change. Try to talk about the event or activity when everyone is fairly relaxed and happy.  Presenting information visually can be a good idea, as your youngster can refer to it as often as they need to. You could try using calendars so that your youngster knows how many days it is before an event (e.g., Christmas) happens. This can help them feel prepared. 
 
 
Your youngster might also like to see photos of places or objects in advance so they know what to expect (e.g., a picture of their Christmas present) or a photo of the building they are going to for an appointment. Using social stories could also be helpful. These are short stories, often with pictures, that describe different situations and activities so that children with Aspergers and HFA know what to expect.  Pre-planning can also involve structuring the environment. 
 
For example, a student with HFA might go to use a computer in the library at lunchtime if they find being in the playground too stressful – or if a youngster has sensory sensitivity, minimizing the impact of things like noises (e.g., school bells) or smells (e.g., perfumes or soaps) can help them to cope better.  It is possible that more structured environments may reduce boredom, which is sometimes a reason for repetitive behavior. You might prepare a range of enjoyable or calming activities to re-direct your youngster to if they seem bored or stressed.

5.     Self-regulation skills: Self-regulation skills are any activities that help your youngster to manage their own behavior and emotions.  If you can help your youngster to identify when they are feeling stressed or anxious and use an alternative response (e.g., relaxation techniques or asking for help), you may, in time, see less repetitive or ritualistic behavior.  Research has also shown that increasing a child’s insight into an obsession or repetitive behavior can significantly reduce it. This includes children with quite severe learning disabilities.

6.     Set limits: Setting limits around repetitive behavior, routines and obsessions is an important and often essential way to minimize their impact on your youngster's life. You could set limits in a number of ways depending which behavior concerns you. For example, you can ration objects (e.g., can only carry five pebbles in pocket), ration places (e.g., spinning only allowed at home), and ration times (e.g., can watch his favorite DVD for 20 minutes twice a day). Everyone involved with your youngster should take the same consistent approach to setting limits. Have clear rules about where, when, with whom and for how long a behavior is allowed. You could present this information visually, with a focus on when your youngster can engage in the behavior. This may help if they feel anxious about restricted access to an obsession or activity.

7.     Social skills training: Teaching social skills (e.g.,  how to start and end a conversation, appropriate things to talk about, how to read other people's 'cues') may mean someone with Aspergers or HFA feels more confident and doesn't need to rely on talking about particular subjects (e.g., a special interest). 

8.     Understand the function of the behavior: Obsessions, repetitive behavior and routines are frequently important and meaningful to children on the  spectrum, helping them to manage anxiety and have some measure of control over a confusing and chaotic world. For others, the behavior may help with sensory issues. Take a careful look at what you think might be causing the behavior and what purpose it might serve.  For example, does your youngster always seem to find a particular environment (e.g., a classroom) hard to cope with? Is it too bright? Could you turn off strip lighting and rely on natural daylight instead?

9.     Visual supports: Visual supports (e.g., photos, symbols, written lists or physical objects) can really help children with Aspergers and HFA.  A visual timetable could help your youngster to see what is going to happen next. This makes things more predictable and helps them to feel prepared. It may lessen their reliance on strict routines of their own making. 
 
 
Visual supports like egg timers or 'time timers' can help some children with an autism spectrum disorder to understand abstract concepts like time, plan what they need to do, when in order to complete a task, and understand the concept of waiting.  Visual supports can also be useful if your youngster asks the same question repeatedly. One parent wrote down the answer to a question, put it on the fridge and, whenever her son asked the question, told him to go to the fridge and find the answer. For kids who can't read, you could use pictures instead of words.

10.   Make use of obsessions: Obsessions can be used to increase your youngster's skills and areas of interest, promote self-esteem, and encourage socializing. You may find you can look at a particular obsession and think of ways to develop it into something more functional. Here are some examples:
  • A child with a special interest in historical dates could join a history group and meet others with similar interests.
  • A child with knowledge of sport or music would be a valuable member of a pub quiz team.
  • A strong preference for ordering or lining up objects could be developed into housework skills.
  • An interest in particular sounds could be channeled into learning a musical instrument.
  • An obsession with rubbish could be used to develop an interest in recycling, and the youngster given the job of sorting items for recycling.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

 

COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Mine is 17 and still obsessed. I think we have every game, plus the cards, and watch the cartoon. HELP!
•    Anonymous said… My 14 year old- obsessed with Pokemon. Sets him noticeably apart from his peers, and is definitely an issue. frown emoticon
•    Anonymous said… my 25 year old son with ASPERGERS is obsessed with stunt riding.. he is getting good at it. came 12th in the british stunt championships last year. wink emoticon
•    Anonymous said… My Aspie son was too at that age. Rest assured, he will move on to other things but with just as much obsession! Whatever makes them happy.....
•    Anonymous said… My lad of 21 now he has aspergers.was mad on pokemon and digimon.
•    Anonymous said… My son is obsessed with this too!
•    Anonymous said… My teenager( Aspergers) at age 6 was obessed with Spongebob. We would turn the Television and he could repeat the episode without pictures or words. I think that they just love different things and have a likeable interest. My normal 6 year old is obsessed with Sonic. He is at the top of his class and this is the 2nd 9weeks weeks of report cards. He wants every character. At least it is a good thing and not something bad.
•    Anonymous said… Pokemon was created by an autistic man, so I can see why they can become an interest.
•    Anonymous said… Sounds familiar our 12 year old loves pokemon magic the gathering mine craft and Spider-Man
•    Anonymous said… This is an excellent article! Our 7-year-old grandson is obsessed with Minecraft. We have to curb his enthusiasm for discussing Minecraft every single minute of the day, or we would go completely batty! We tell him that although he loves Minecraft, not everyone shares his interest, and it's important to find out what other people's interests are, and not to monopolize conversations talking about his interests only.
•    Anonymous said… When our Aspergers son got into Pokemon it was actually a HUGE help for him socially. Since all the kids were into it, he actually had common interests and they could all talk Pokemon. We saw a lot of social growth during this phase so the obsession was actually very healthy for him.

Post your comment below…

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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 Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the 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…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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."

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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.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content