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


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.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    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 and Emotional Problems in Students on the Autism Spectrum that Teachers Need To Be Aware Of

“Is it common for a child with autism (high functioning) to have more behavior problems at school than at home? My 13 y.o. son has been getting a lot of time in detention. Can I excuse him from it and not reschedule? A teacher gave him detention for what I consider to be an unfair reason, and she refuses to hear his side. He goes to a public middle school.”

RE: “Can I excuse him from it and not reschedule?”

You don’t have the authority to exempt your son from the school's disciplinary actions. If there is a problem with a particular disciplinary process (e.g., detention scheduled to be served at a time that creates a hardship for you), you can contact the school's administrative staff to ask for consideration of an alternative date and time for the detention.

RE: “Is it common for a child with autism (high functioning) to have more behavior problems at school than at home?”

Yes, many children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s do act-out in the classroom, largely due to (a) over-stimulation of the senses (e.g., florescent lights, smells from the cafeteria, noisy and crowded hallways, etc.) as well as (b) social skills deficits (e.g., when the youngster fails to take his turn in a playground game because he doesn't understand the social rules of an activity).

Furthermore, these challenges frequently involve feelings of anxiety, loss of control, and an inability to predict outcomes. Rather than simply trying to be defiant or disruptive, students on the autism spectrum typically have behavior problems connected to their inability to function in a world they see as unpredictable and threatening. In other words, when they have behavioral difficulties, their problems are most often associated with their social ineptness, an obsessive interest in a particular subject, a defensive panic reaction, etc.

Many of the traits of the disorder can look like purposeful misbehavior in the eyes of teachers. For example:
  • attention problems may be viewed as simply “not paying attention”
  • become overwhelmed with too much verbal direction may be viewed as “unwarranted expression of frustration”
  • difficulty maintaining friendships can be viewed as “antisocial behavior”
  • difficulty transitioning from one activity to another may be perceived as “oppositional behavior”
  • difficulty waiting for their turn (e.g., standing in line) may be looked at as “impulsivity”
  • difficulty with fine motor activities (e.g., coloring, printing, using scissors, gluing) may be viewed a pure “laziness”
  • difficulty with reading comprehension (e.g., can quote an answer, but unable to predict, summarize or find symbolism) may come across as simply “ignoring the teacher’s instructions”
  • meltdowns are often viewed as “tantrums”

Moms and dads usually have significantly greater concern about the behavior and social skills of their “special needs” youngster than his or her teachers do. Parents often perceive their child to have substantial deficits in a variety of socially-related areas (e.g., conduct problems, aggression, hyperactivity, etc.) as well as internalizing problems (e.g., withdrawal).

Teachers, on the other hand, often perceive the HFA or Asperger’s student to have both fewer and less significant deficits than do parents – and may mistakenly discipline the child for “poor conduct” rather than recognizing the extra challenges the “special needs” student must contend with. Thus, it’s important for parents to educate their child’s teachers on his or her specific challenges that result in behavioral and/or emotional struggles.

But, each case is significantly different! Sometimes "misbehavior" is exactly that - misbehavior - and not necessarily a trait of the disorder. This is were it gets tricky. A particular behavioral problem (e.g., yelling at the teacher) in one student on the spectrum may be motivated by sensory issues, whereas that same behavior in another student on the spectrum may be simple rebelliousness. Which if which? Only the teacher who is well-educated on the symptoms of the disorder, as they relate specifically to the child in question, will know.

Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> 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

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


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The Struggles of Adolescence: Help for Young People on the Autism Spectrum

“My 18 y.o. with Asperger syndrome (high functioning) is on my last nerve. He has been on in-school detention all week. Now he’s getting into trouble there too and is about to receive an out-of-school suspension. He simply doesn’t care anymore, and honestly, I think he is trying to get kicked out of school. He comes home and goes straight to his room for the rest of the evening to play online gaming (he will come out occasionally to eat a snack, but won’t eat dinner with the rest of us). He’s rude and hateful to me and his younger brother. I am at my wits end. No idea where I went wrong with this child. He has no friends to speak of, seems depressed and moody all time, and has even said he wished he wasn’t alive. I really have doubts that he will make it in the adult world at this point. He has already said he will not go to college or trade school. And he has never had an interest in working a part-time job so far. Please help!”

First of all, there is much more going on here than simple rebellion or defiance. Your son’s misbehavior is a symptom of some underlying factor(s). For example, many teens spend the entire school day under duress from peer-rejection, teasing and bullying. So, when they return home, some will take their frustration out on a “soft target” (in your case, his younger brother perhaps) as a way to discharge negative emotions. Also, some teens on the autism spectrum would love nothing more than to get kicked out of school due to (a) the mismatch between their educator’s teaching style and their individual learning style (most autistic teens learn visually), or (b) an unfriendly classroom environment that bombards and overloads their senses (most autistic teens have sensory sensitivities, such as sensitivity to excess noise, crowded hallways, smells from the cafeteria, and so on). Thus, the root cause(s) of the “misbehavior” needs to be uncovered before behavioral change can happen.

Adolescence is the most difficult time for teenagers with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS). Young people on the spectrum typically become more isolated socially during a period when they crave friendships and acceptance more than ever. In the harsh world of middle and high school, they often face rejection, isolation and bullying. Meanwhile, school becomes more demanding in a period when they have to compete for college placements. So, who wouldn’t be acting-out under these circumstances?

Most autistic teenagers struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet. The causes of these struggles (e.g., social, communication and behavioral problems, sensory issues, etc.) can create the desire for isolation. They can easily drop into a lonely state of depression and/or anxiety, making the original problems much worse. Thus, helping the teen to boost his self-esteem and level of confidence is paramount.

So what can parents do to help their “special needs” adolescent? Below are some crucial tips for helping HFA and AS teens survive - and thrive - during the rough teenage years:

1. With or without an autism spectrum disorder, most teenagers become less willing to take a parent’s word or advice. Therefore, try to hook your teen up with other trustworthy adults. If you want him to learn or try to do something outside of his comfort zone (e.g., something other than playing video games all day), then arrange for the suggestion or information to come from a trusted adult other than you. Look for other good mentors (e.g., an uncle, scout or youth group leader, peer mentor, “Big Brother,” social skills group leader, coach or martial arts teacher, etc.).

2. Teenagers on the autism spectrum need developmentally-appropriate structure, but it requires sensitivity on your part to figure out what is needed when. Watch your teen, not the calendar. Try to get inside his head. Also, be prepared to run out of patience. Create your own back-up plan for when this happens (e.g., YOU take a time-out).

3. View “misbehavior” as a signal of needs. Everything your teen does tells you something about what he needs.

4. There are going to be occasions when negative consequences become necessary (e.g., grounding, taking away privileges, etc.), but they should always be immediate, definite, and relevant. Teens with autism tend not to perceive cause-and-effect and are likely to have short memories, so prolonged consequences not only lose their impact, but also their effectiveness.

5. The “transition plan” (which needs to be part of your teen’s IEP) should address the skills that your teen needs to acquire while in high school, in order to be prepared for the kind of independent life he wants to lead after graduation. Many high schools are unfamiliar with transition planning. The more you know as a mom or dad, the more you will be able to ensure that a solid transition plan is written and carried out.

6. Although most teenagers with HFA/AS are more child-like than their “typical” peers, be prepared to tolerate and/or ignore considerable distancing, hostility, or acting-out – knowing that it won’t last forever. At the same time, set some firm limits, and keep a close eye on your teen’s anxiety level and depression.

7. List the behaviors that you feel are most deserving of attention. This is an important step, because some behaviors may need intervention or therapy in order to be eliminated rather than simple disciplinary tactics. Odd self-soothing behaviors are common in autistic teens with sensory processing issues, and they can be easily replaced with more appropriate ones.

8. Teach laundry and other self-care/home-care skills by small steps over time. Also, try to get your teenager to take an elective at school (e.g., cooking, personal finance, etc.).

9. Special interests may change, but whatever the current one is, it remains an important source of motivation, pleasure, relaxation, and reassurance for your teenager.

10. Some teenagers on the spectrum adjust to high school with appropriate supports and accommodations. However, others just can’t handle a large, impersonal academic setting that exists in high school. You may need to hire an advocate to negotiate with the school system to pay for an alternative school placement, tuition, and transportation.

11. Seek out social skills groups designed especially for teenagers with autism. Participating in such a group and being accepted by group leaders and peers is probably the most powerful way to alleviate your teenager’s potential despair at not fitting-in socially and not having any friends. The positive social experiences and new skills he learns will be assets for the rest of his life.

12. Schedule regular monthly educational team meetings to monitor your teenager’s progress, to ensure that the IEP is being faithfully carried out, and to modify it if necessary. Because teenagers on the spectrum can be so volatile or fragile, and because so many important things must be accomplished in 4 short years of high school, these meetings are crucial. If your child is doing very well, the team can agree to skip a month, but be sure to reconvene to plan the transition to the following year.

13. Reading body language and understanding sweeping generalizations can be quite frustrating for autistic teens. Thus, they usually benefit from systematic social training in which they are given the chance to role play, study body cues and language, and practice interpreting new signals that may not have been evident in early childhood.

14. Not all teenagers on the spectrum are ready for a residential college experience right after high school. To decide, use the evidence of how your teen did at sleep-away camp or similar samplings of independence, and look carefully at executive function skills (e.g., organizational skills). As an alternative, community colleges offer a lot of flexibility (e.g., easy admission, low cost, remedial courses if necessary, the option of a light course load, the security of living at home, etc.). Some college disability offices are more successful than others at providing effective, individualized support. However, if your teenager is living at home, you may be able more easily to sense trouble, step in with help, or secure supports he needs to succeed.

15. Make sure thorough neuropsychological re-evaluations are performed every 3 years. This information and documentation may be critical in (a) securing appropriate services, (b) alternative school placements, (c) a good transition plan, (d) choosing an appropriate college or other post-secondary program, and (e) proving eligibility for services and benefits as a grown-up.

16. Look for volunteer activities or part time jobs at the high school or in the community. Be persistent in asking the school to provide help in the areas of career assessment, job readiness skills, and internships or volunteer opportunities. They probably have such services for learning disabled teenagers, but may not realize your high-functioning autistic teen needs that help, too. They may also not know how to adapt existing programs to meet his needs.

17. Look for opportunities for a sheltered, successful overnight stay away from home with no parent (e.g., long weekend visits to relatives, a week or two of a carefully chosen sleep-away camp, taking a course on a college campus, etc.).

18. Instill the essential habit of a daily shower and clean clothes. Peers, teachers, and future potential employers are very put-off by poor hygiene. If possible, put your teenager’s clothes on a well-organized shelf in the bathroom near the clothes hamper.

19. In adolescence, communication becomes complicated as teenagers invent words, signs, and body language to discreetly talk with a friend. For a youngster with HFA/AS who has been struggling just to understand common social cues, this change can be frustrating and incredibly difficult to understand. The best scenario is when language is "concrete and definite." Teenage conversations that use shortened terms or lingo are going to be very difficult for a young person on the spectrum.

20. Impersonal, written communication is easier for the HFA/AS teenager to absorb (e.g., lists of routines and rules, notes, charts, calendars, etc.).

21. If your teenager seems like a good candidate for college, take him to visit colleges during the spring vacation weeks of the junior year of high school, or during the summers before junior and senior year. Visits reveal a lot about what environment your teenager will prefer. Also, purchase a large college guide to browse.

22. If you have not yet made a will and set up a special needs trust, do it now. Ask your lawyer about powers of attorney or other documents you may need once your teenager is no longer a minor. Few moms and dads assume guardianship of a young adult 18 or older, but it may be necessary and appropriate in some situations.

23. If you have not talked to your teenager about his disorder, you or someone else should do so (to the extent that he is ready to hear it). It’s tricky for teenagers on the spectrum – they so much want to be “normal” and strong and successful. A diagnosis can seem threatening or even totally unacceptable. In truth, however, adults on the spectrum who do best are those who know themselves well – both their own strengths (which point them toward finding their niche in the world) and their own blind spots (where they need to learn new skills or seek out specific kinds of help).

24. If both parents can agree about their HFA or AS teenager’s diagnosis, treatment, and rules, it will save a lot of family wear and tear. To get your spouse on the same page, attend autism conferences or classes together. When you hear the same information, you can discuss it and decide what will work best for your teenager and in your family. As you learn more about autism spectrum disorders, you may also come to better appreciate each other’s contributions to your youngster’s welfare. Attend team meetings at the school together, or alternate which parent attends. Also, seeing your teen’s therapist together (possibly without the youngster), or seeing a couples or family therapist may help you weather a tough time together.

25. Have realistic, modest goals for what your teenager or the family can accomplish in a given time period. You may need to postpone some plans for career goals, for example.

26. Go with the flow of your youngster’s nature. Simplify schedules and routines, streamline possessions and furnishings. If your teenager only likes plain T shirts without collars or buttons, buy plain T shirts. If he likes familiar foods, or has a favorite restaurant, indulge him.

27. Multiple stressors during adolescence often bring on anxiety and even depression in teens on the spectrum. Stressors may include increased academic/abstract thinking and social demands at school, peer pressure, increased social awareness, and fears of the future. Anxious teenagers who do not get help may be at risk for school failure, acting-out, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide attempts.

28. Consider delaying graduation in order to ensure that transition services are actually provided under DOE. It may be hard to convince an academically gifted, college bound student to accept this route. However, it may be very helpful for autistic students who will need a lot of help with independent living skills and employment issues. Services need not be delivered within high school walls. Community college courses, adaptive driving lessons, and employment internships are just a few alternatives to consider.

29. Build and use any support networks you can (e.g., extended family, close friends, church/synagogue groups, an understanding school staff, etc.). If you don’t have a good network, consider individual or family therapy for a little support during a stormy, demanding life passage. When you have a demanding teenager, it’s good to be reminded once a week that your needs and feelings are valid and important, too!

30. Remember that teenagers with HFA/AS are relatively immature - both socially and emotionally - compared to “typical” teens of the same chronological age. Adjust your expectations for your teen, and make sure he has appropriate supports. 

31. Teenagers with HFA/AS are less prepared than “typical” teens for the new challenges of sexuality and romance. Many teens on the spectrum want a girl or boy friend, but are clueless about how to form and maintain a relationship. Autistic males may be at risk for accusations of harassment, and autistic females may be at risk for becoming victims. Teach appropriate rules. Look for supervised activities in which boys and girls can socialize safely together, supervised by a staff person who can coach appropriate social skills.

32. For a teenager with HFA/AS, friendships can be a struggle. Your youngster may not understand social cues, and may not know how to be someone's friend. He may feel the typical feelings of a first crush, but be uncertain on how to act on it. Social training can help these young people to understand social cues, slang, and meet other teens who feel similarly about how to deal with new friends. In these social trainings, teenagers can be taught how to listen, and how listening and reacting appropriately can lead to stronger bonds. Also, you should try to explicitly explain what the act of flirting is (e.g., by pointing it out on a TV show or movie).

33. A regular bed time at a reasonable hour is more important than ever. Regular routines of all kinds (e.g., familiar foods, rituals, vacations, etc.) are reassuring when the autistic teenager’s body, biochemistry, and social scene are changing so fast. Keeping your teen’s routines constant will improve his outlook. He will know what to expect at any given time, lessening the stress he feels.

34. Using your teenager’s special interests - both at home and at school - can generate positive responses in many situations. For instance, a 14-year-old's love of trains can be used to encourage eating at home. Train-themed dinnerware - or even themed foods - can be used to entice the reluctant eater.

In conclusion, young people with HFA and AS bring their special flavor to adolescence. Some will not avoid interacting with others. They are eager to communicate (though often in a clumsy, in-your-face way). The level of their insight into their social skills deficits will then become the determining factor of their social success. If they are unaware of their shortcomings in gauging the social atmosphere and reading social cues, they may inadvertently come across as rude, insulting or boring. They may miss subtle criticism and sarcasm. As they develop better insight, they will become more motivated to learn, which had not come naturally and intuitively.

In the social development of HFA and AS teens who show some interest in peer interactions, social anxiety and resultant avoidance play an important role. Some of these young people get very nervous just with the thought of approaching others and may choose to avoid it at all costs. Their avoidance may appear as if they are not interested in others. It is important to differentiate this since anxiety can be treated much more easily than genuine lack of interest.

Regardless of the individual developmental route, most teens on the spectrum start realizing that they are not quite like others at some point during their adolescence. Once the teenager realizes that he has significant difficulties in conducting social relationships compared to his peers, he needs deal with this loss, just like dealing with any other loss. Understanding the thoughts, feelings and behavior of a teen on the spectrum is the necessary first step in helping him out and being there for him. 

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens


Special Disciplinary Techniques for Aspergers and HFA Children

“Should you discipline a child with Aspergers (high functioning) in the same way you would a child without the disorder? If not, what would you do differently?”

In many instances, a disciplinary technique would be the same for both the Aspergers/HFA and neurotypical child. But in a significant number of select areas, you will need to take a different approach due to the "special needs" child’s ASD-related symptoms (e.g., sensory sensitivities, mind-blindness, obsessions, etc.).

Here are most of the main points to consider when disciplining a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism:

1. Attend local parent support group meetings, and join online support groups.

2. Avoid being over-protective. While your youngster does need you, he also needs his own sense of self and to be able to experience life as much as he can on his own.

3. Be patient and consistent. Due to developmental delays, kids on the autism spectrum may require more exposure to discipline before they begin to understand expectations. You must follow through and apply discipline each time there is an incident in order to effectively send your message.

4. Choose a method of discipline appropriate to the level of the outburst and to the youngster in question. Planned ignoring, giving a time-out, and removing privileges or activities important to the youngster are all potential options. Aspergers and HFA kids may require a shorter time-out period and consequences given in smaller doses, especially where their attention spans are affected by their disorder.

5. Communicate your expectations. Before you enter a store, transition from one activity to another, or approach a situation where behavior may deteriorate, discuss with the youngster what will happen, review your family rules, and remind the youngster of the consequences of misbehavior. For Aspergers and HFA kids, this information may need to be broken down into a few very simple instructions and repeated often.

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

6. Create an environment that encourages your youngster to make the right choices, whether it be by providing a picture schedule, using verbal reminders, or retelling the stories about appropriate behaviors.

7. Decide on one or two motivators, or positive rewards, and one or two consequences, or negative actions. Motivators might include earning story time, candy, dessert or a new toy. Consequences might include a stern warning, timeout, removal of toys, or an extra chore. Your goal is to encourage your youngster to follow the rules, but at the same time, prepare yourself to provide discipline if she does not.

8. Develop a list of positive behaviors you want to encourage and negative behaviors you want to discourage. Your list should reflect your youngster's abilities and limitations, rather than focusing on age-appropriate activities. Consider self-care tasks, manners and chores. For some kids, the behaviors might be simple and include things like eye contact when spoken to, pointing instead of yelling and not throwing things. For other kids, the list might include several daily chores, a respectful tone of voice, and following a bedtime routine.

9. Develop a plan of action before a behavioral incident occurs. Consider possible settings where you may face an outburst, your reaction, the youngster's needs and response, and the consequences you may use to stop or alter the behavior. Kids on the spectrum may have unusual behavioral triggers, so it is important to know the youngster in question when developing your plan and to be flexible in your approach.

10. Difficult behavior usually serves a purpose for your youngster. Once you identify the desire, you may learn how to prevent the behavior and replace it with something more appropriate. For example, the desire may be to gain attention or obtain something, or avoid or escape from an unpleasant situation. Traditional forms of discipline are not effective with an Aspergers or HFA youngster who is displaying difficult behavior. The youngster may not simply seek approval or understand anger from another person, so your reaction to the behavior may have little impact. It is always important to look at what motivates and interests each youngster and to assist the youngster to communicate her needs, anxieties and frustration in acceptable ways. Assistance through behavioral services, role play and modeling may be necessary.

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

11. Don’t be afraid to discipline while out in the community.

12. Don’t feel guilty if you are not 100% consistent.

13. Educate yourself about all the aspects of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism.

14. Establish a safety net of support around yourself.

15. Explain the disorder to siblings and encourage them to ask you questions about the disorder.

16. For kids on the spectrum, it is important that the consequence or reward immediately follow the behavior to have the greatest effect and opportunity to teach.

17. Give equal attention to positive behaviors as you give to negative behaviors. This will help the youngster recognize what to do – as well as what not to do.

18. Give your youngster choices appropriate to her age and development. Having the opportunity to make choices will help her feel important while learning to feel responsible for areas in her life.

19. Have a set community outing each week that occurs just for “teaching” and practicing good behavior.

20. Have a set plan for car misbehavior.

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

21. If the day’s routine is not typical, plan to surround the youngster with as many familiar items (e.g., favorite songs, books, toys, etc.) to help him feel as comfortable as possible in unusual circumstances.

22. Implement negative consequences for poor choices and noncompliance with a calm, yet assertive voice. Do not feel anxious or guilty about implementing a consequence. You are helping to teach your youngster how to function successfully within society. To deny kids with an autism spectrum disorder these consequences would deny their development into responsible grown-ups.

23. Increase supervision and structure.

24. Increase your efforts to “catch your child being good.”

25. It’s okay to “bribe.”

26. It’s okay to say, “No.”

27. Moms and dads can help to reduce their kid’s misbehavior by anticipating difficult moments in the day. Transitions are often difficult for kids on the spectrum. The unpredictability of change can make a youngster feel uneasy, even fearful. Knowing what to expect can help eliminate unnecessary stress. All kids crave structure, and knowing what comes next provides comfort. Simply being aware of a daily schedule can help a youngster adjust between two activities.

28. Provide opportunities for your youngster to do things the right way. Clearly explain what you expect. Role-play the correct behaviors or make up a social story about the correct choices you expect your youngster to make.

29. Realize that kids with Aspergers and HFA come with all sorts of personalities, temperaments, abilities, likes, and dislikes. While they come with their own set of challenges, they are also armed with some tremendous qualities.

30. Recruit some help from your other children. Ask the neurotypical siblings for help with their Aspergers sibling. Give them a role (e.g., helping the autistic youngster with homework).

31. Solve any medical or sleep problems.

32. Teach the youngster the importance of responsibility, self-control, and positive behaviors. As a parent of a youngster with Aspergers or HFA, your job is to arm your youngster with these tools so he can live a productive life where he can discipline himself as much as possible.

33. Teach your youngster responsibility by giving certain chores he is responsible for. By doing this, you’ll give him a sense of accomplishment, value, and self-worth.

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

34. When considering how to discipline kids on the spectrum, it is important to provide structure appropriate to your youngster’s age and developmental stage. This is critically important as you want to discipline your youngster depending on their ability and understanding, and not strictly on their chronological age.

35. When disciplining your youngster, show her value by not focusing on the disorder, but on her “self.”

36. When your youngster is displaying an undesirable behavior, consider the fact that the behavior could indicate a need. Evaluate each behavior to see if there is anything you can do to help the youngster in this area.

37. Work on simple directions and following them every day.

38. Kids with Aspergers and HFA are concrete, literal thinkers and have difficulty communicating both verbally and non-verbally. Being unable to express or receive messages can lead to frustration and anger. Here are some points to consider:
  • Give and receive messages using a variety of communication methods (e.g., written, verbal, gesture, or visual cues).
  • Use clear, simple and precise language when giving instructions; start with one word and gradually move on to more complex sentences.
  • Try to phrase requests in a positive way, stating what you want rather than what you don’t want.
  • Use activity schedules to assist the youngster in following daily routines.
  • Provide a structure and routine this assists the youngster in knowing what to expect.

39. Kids with Aspergers and HFA have difficulty understanding social rules and interpreting the feelings and emotions of others. Physical space and/or contact with others may cause anxiety. Here are some points to consider:
  • Reinforce the use of appropriate verbal or facial expressions of feelings and emotions.
  • Rehearse social rules in different settings.
  • Have clear consequences for inappropriate social behavior.
  • Actively teach social behaviors through role play and presentation.

40. These young people can become very confused when routines change. They may also know what is expected in one situation, but may not be able to transition this knowledge to another, related situation. Here are some points to consider:
  • Identify danger, being prepared, and transition between activities.
  • Provide clear signals to specify the start and finish of an activity.
  • Teach the same skill in different settings.
  • Use effective communication to warn of unexpected changes to routine.
  • Using a variety of communication methods, explain rules that apply to each situation encountered.

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

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

==> 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


Unknown said...
Thank you. I love reading your blog. No 25 its ok to bribe, thank god, my son isn't keen to do things sometimes unless there is something in it for him! Reading this makes me feel so much better. I have never had any help, the only thing that made me feel like I have been dealing with it ll in the right way was my sons doctor, he told me that it sounds like we cope well! Nice to hear but it never feels like that.

Unknown said...
My brother is 24 with this syndrome. I have a 1&2 year old who live in the home with us. He seems to hate them even though I know that in not the case. He doesn't want them to touch him or be around him at times. He destroys their toys and can never really give a clear answer to why he was mad other than he just did not want the object in his room. He does not like being around the kids but I know he wants to spend time with everyone else in the home. Is there a particular reason why he is like this with the toddlers?


Effective Discipline for "Sensitive" Children with High-Functioning Autism

"When we discipline our child, she will often go into a meltdown (like we are hurting her somehow). How can we set limits without her viewing it as negative punishment (so to speak) or that we are trying to 'make her feel bad'?"

Many children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have been known to “meltdown” immediately after being reprimanded or disciplined by parents. Even the mildest form of correction (e.g., being told to stop banging a toy on the furniture) can be very upsetting to these “special needs” children.

A youngster who cries easily, shows excessive responses to appropriate consequences and general discipline, or breaks downs over minor issues is considered “sensitive.” Sensitive kids on the autism spectrum pose some significant challenges when it comes to discipline. They tend to become emotionally overwhelmed easily, are likely to get upset if the parent raises an eyebrow at their behavior, and often worry about getting into trouble.

What earmarks a youngster as sensitive?  

Sensitive kids may exhibit one or all of the following characteristics (the key is to notice a pattern of behavior and the degree to which your son or daughter exhibits one or more of the following):
  • Does he ask profound questions, think a lot on his own, or reflect on his experiences?
  • Does he seem especially sensitive to the feelings of animals?
  • Does she feel a wide, yet intense range of emotions?
  • Does she notice when small household items are moved, or minor changes in other people (e.g., a haircut)?
  • Does she sometimes get so excited she withdraws?
  • Does your youngster get emotionally overwhelmed easily?
  • Is your youngster highly aware of her surroundings?
  • Is your youngster highly sensitive to his senses (e.g., excellent sense of smell or hearing, very sensitive to pain, etc.)?

Coming to the conclusion that your AS or HFA youngster is sensitive can be tough – not tough to understand, but tough to swallow. But don’t despair! It is better that you know early on and take steps toward helping your youngster deal with his or her world going forward. 

As a mother or father, you may struggle trying to discipline your sensitive child. He may become hysterical when you enforce rules, or appear totally devastated when you correct improper behavior. But, discipline is part of parenting, and there are ways to discipline even a sensitive youngster. When determining your disciplinary methods, take your youngster’s sensitivities into account. Harsh discipline (i.e., punishment) or severe consequences (i.e., consequences that are disproportionate to the misbehavior) will make a bad problem worse. Instead, find ways to nurture and guide your “special needs” youngster.


Here are just a few ways to effectively discipline sensitive children on the autism spectrum:

1. Although it’s tempting to bend the rules so as to not upset your sensitive AS or HFA youngster, it won’t be helpful in the long run. Flexibility with some rules is perfectly acceptable, but remember that your main task as a parent is to teach your youngster how to be a responsible grown-up. Overprotective and/or overindulgent parenting does not prepare children for the real world – it literally stunts their emotional growth.

2. Many sensitive kids on the spectrum get easily distressed when they have to make a decision, and they often reject opportunities out of fear.  Sometimes the best thing a parent can do is “nudge” her youngster to take a risk or try something new. If your sensitive youngster knows you will be there for him – and love him no matter what he is feeling – he will have less hesitation in new situations, and will be less self-conscious or “risk-averse.” Also, if he knows you’re not going to “push” him to be something he’s not, he will be more relaxed and prepared for the challenges ahead.

3. Rather than sending your sensitive youngster to "time-out" for bad behavior, create a “relaxation zone.” This is a place where he can go to unwind and recompose himself. Supply the zone with constructive activities (e.g., crayons and paper). Decorate it with soft pillows, or fill it with stuffed animals. When your sensitive youngster begins to act-out, direct him to his relaxation zone where he can have a break. This also gives you an opportunity to regain YOUR composure and rationally figure out the best way to address your child’s behavioral issue.

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

4. Don’t try to change your youngster’s temperament. Instead, try to help her learn how to cope with sensitivity in a less sensitive world. Instead of viewing her as “weak and whiny,” focus on her abilities and gifts.

5. Make small changes over an extended period of time. If you need to make changes to your youngster’s environment, make them little by little. He will feel less overwhelmed and agitated as a result.

6. When issuing a consequence, explain your reasoning. As a mother or father, you probably believe that your youngster should follow the house rules because you are the “boss.” But, sensitive kids on the autism spectrum do best when parents explain their actions. These children are not necessarily trying to be defiant or questioning your authority and decisions, they simply don't understand why the rules are in place. So, take the time to explain why you are disciplining your child and why you want him to stop a particular behavior (e.g., “You are using this sharp knife as a toy. This is not a toy. You could cut yourself, and I don’t want that to happen. So from now on, if you choose to play with the knives again, you will also choose a consequence.”).

7. Praise your youngster’s “efforts” rather than only praising success. Make it clear that hard work is worthy of praise, even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly in the end. For example, provide praise for behaving bravely, for handling frustration appropriately, or for telling the truth (some sensitive kids lie to get out of trouble, so provide them with a lot of praise for being honest, especially if their honesty doesn’t paint them favorably).

8. Reframe your child’s sensitivities (i.e., turn it into a positive). Help her understand that she simply experiences the world more deeply than most kids – and help her see the strengths associated with this. For example, she probably notices things most people don't, or she may have the ability to stay highly focused on a subject of interest or a favored activity.

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

9. Sensitive children on the spectrum are often overwhelmed and exhausted after dealing with crowds, noisy environments, bright lights, and other sources of over-stimulation. These children often need time to relax and take a break – otherwise, you can expect a meltdown. Thus, avoid over-scheduling your youngster or expecting too much participation in activities that may involve over-stimulation. Some moms and dads find it helpful to offer their youngster a “serenity corner” with quiet activities (e.g., coloring books, an iPod with soothing music, magazines to read, etc.).

10. Don’t try to force your AS or HFA youngster to adapt to society’s demands. Love and accept him unconditionally. You can’t change who he is. He needs to know you love him no matter how he perceives or reacts to the world.

11. Sensitive children need consequences for poor choices just like any other youngster. Just because a “special needs” boy or girl cries or feels bad doesn’t mean he or she should not receive a consequence for a particular behavioral problem. However, it is important to use discipline (i.e., parental instruction) and not punishment (i.e., parental revenge). Logical consequences are very helpful in the case of the AS or HFA child, because they connect the consequence directly to the misbehavior.

12. Sensitive children need to learn how to verbalize their uncomfortable emotions, and they need to discover appropriate ways to cope with those emotions. “Emotion coaching” can be an excellent way to help these young people how to identify and deal with uncomfortable feelings in socially acceptable ways.

13. “Demonstrate” rather than “order.” When your sensitive youngster acts badly, show her the behavior that you expect. In a calm manner using a soft voice, tell her to “stop and watch.” Then start doing the same behavior that she was doing (she may think you are being silly and realize how ridiculous her behavior was). Next, show her the proper behavior. The act of seeing what you expect (rather than listening to your lectures) will make a stronger and more memorable impact.

14. Before issuing a consequence for misbehavior, step away from the situation momentarily while you select your words carefully. Take a calm tone and clearly explain your youngster's incorrect behavior and the resultant consequence. Patiently explain to her the behavior that you expect in the future. After she has calmed down, give her a hug and reassure her that everything will be fine.

15. Sensitive children often feel bad if they “get in trouble,” so simply changing the way you word things can spin it into a reward (e.g., instead of saying, “You can’t play your video game unless you eat some of your vegetables,” …say, “If you eat some of your vegetables, you can earn some time to play video games!”). Create a formal reward system to help your child earn rewards consistently. However, always remember that the sensitive child usually feels bad if he doesn’t earn a reward. Thus, be prepared to praise his efforts and use reminders like, “You can try again tomorrow.”

In conclusion, consider being more sensitive yourself as the parent. Being a sensitive mom or dad may be helpful in understanding your AS or HFA youngster’s temperament and particular needs as to his sensitivities (e.g., lights, crowds, sounds, clothes, and other preferences). It is especially helpful if a sensitive youngster is born to a well-adjusted, sensitive parent that can steer him in the right emotional direction. Of course, this is true of any youngster with good role models. But, sensitive kids need especially good role models, because they are learning how to use their “gift of sensitivity” in a world that usually doesn't value this trait.


Oppositional Defiant Behavior in Children and Teens with Aspergers Syndrome

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM IV), defines oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months. Behaviors included in the definition include the following:

• actively defying requests
• arguing with adults
• being touchy, easily annoyed or angered, resentful, spiteful, or vindictive.
• blaming others for one's own mistakes or misbehavior
• deliberately annoying other people
• losing one's temper
• refusing to follow rules

OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER is usually diagnosed when an Aspergers youngster has a persistent or consistent pattern of disobedience and hostility toward parents, teachers, or other adults. The primary behavioral difficulty is the consistent pattern of refusing to follow commands or requests by adults. Aspergers kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are often easily annoyed; they repeatedly lose their temper, argue with adults, refuse to comply with rules and directions, and blame others for their mistakes. Stubbornness and testing limits are common, even in early childhood.

The criteria for OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are met only when the problem behaviors occur more frequently in the Aspergers youngster than in other Aspergers kids of the same age and developmental level. These behaviors cause significant difficulties with family and friends, and the oppositional behaviors are the same both at home and in school. Sometimes, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER may be a precursor of a conduct disorder. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER is not diagnosed if the problematic behaviors occur exclusively with a mood or psychotic disorder.

Prevalence and Comorbidity—

The base prevalence rates for oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) range from 1-16%, but most surveys estimate it to be 6-10% in surveys of nonclinical, non-referred samples of parents' reports. In more stringent population samples, rates are lower when impairment criteria are stricter and when the information is obtained from both parents and teachers, rather than from moms and dads only. Before puberty, the condition is more common in boys; after puberty, it is almost exclusively identified in boys, and whether the criteria are applicable to girls has been discussed. The disorder usually manifests by age 8 years. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and other conduct problems are the single greatest reasons for referrals to outpatient and inpatient mental health settings for kids, accounting for at least half of all referrals.

Diagnosis is complicated by relatively high rates of comorbid, disruptive, behavior disorders. Some symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder overlap. Researchers have postulated that, in some kids, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER may be the developmental precursor of conduct disorder. Comorbidity of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER with ADHD has been reported to occur in 50-65% of affected kids.

In some Aspergers kids, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER commonly occurs in conjunction with anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. Cross-sectional surveys have revealed the comorbidity of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER with an affective disorder in about 35% of cases, with rates of comorbidity increasing with patient age. High rates of comorbidity are also found among ODDs, learning disorders, and academic difficulties. Given these findings, kids with significant oppositional and defiant behaviors often require multidisciplinary assessment and may need components of mental health care, case management, and educational intervention to improve.

Risk Factors and Etiology—

The best available data indicate that no single cause or main effect results in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Most experts believe that biological factors are important in OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and that familial clustering of certain disruptive disorders, including OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and ADHD, substance abuse, and mood disorders, occurs.

Studies of the genetics of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER have produced mixed results. Under-arousal to stimulation has been consistently found in persistently aggressive and delinquent youth and in those with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER. Exogenous factors such as prenatal exposure to toxins, alcohol, and poor nutrition all seem to have effects, but findings are inconsistent. Studies have implicated abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex; altered neurotransmitter function in the serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic systems; and low cortisol and elevated testosterone levels.

Clinical Course—

In Aspergers toddlers, temperamental factors, such as irritability, impulsivity, and intensity of reactions to negative stimuli, may contribute to the development of a pattern of oppositional and defiant behaviors in later childhood. Family instability, including economic stress, parental mental illness, harshly punitive behaviors, inconsistent parenting practices, multiple moves, and divorce, may also contribute to the development of oppositional and defiant behaviors.

The interactions of an Aspergers youngster who has a difficult temperament and irritable behavior with moms and dads who are harsh, punitive, and inconsistent usually lead to a coercive, negative cycle of behavior in the family. In this pattern, the youngster's defiant behavior tends to intensify the parents' harsh reactions. The moms and dads respond to misbehavior with threats of punishment that are inconsistently applied. When the parent punishes the youngster, the youngster learns to respond to threats. When the parent fails to punish the youngster, the youngster learns that he or she does not have to comply. Research indicates that these patterns are established early, in the youngster's preschool years; left untreated, pattern development accelerates, and patterns worsen.

Developmentally, the presenting problems change with the Aspergers youngster's age. For example, younger kids are more likely to engage in oppositional and defiant behavior, whereas older kids are more likely to engage in more covert behavior such as stealing.

By the time they are school aged, Aspergers kids with patterns of oppositional behavior tend to express their defiance with teachers and other adults and exhibit aggression toward their peers. As kids with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) progress in school, they experience increasing peer rejection due to their poor social skills and aggression. These kids may be more likely to misinterpret their peers' behavior as hostile, and they lack the skills to solve social conflicts. In problem situations, kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are more likely to resort to aggressive physical actions rather than verbal responses. Kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and poor social skills often do not recognize their role in peer conflicts; they blame their peers (e.g., "He made me hit him.") and usually fail to take responsibility for their own actions.

The following 3 classes of behavior are hallmarks of both oppositional and conduct problems:

1. emotional overreaction to life events, no matter how small
2. failure to take responsibility for one's own actions
3. noncompliance with commands

When behavioral difficulties are present beginning in the preschool period, teachers and families may overlook significant deficiencies in the youngster's learning and academic performance. When many Aspergers kids with behavioral problems and academic problems are placed in the same classroom, the risk for continued behavioral and academic problems increases. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER behavior may escalate and result in serious antisocial actions that, when sufficiently frequent and severe, become criteria to change the diagnosis to conduct disorder. Milder forms of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER in some kids spontaneously remit over time. More severe forms of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, in which many symptoms are present in the toddler years and continually worsen after the youngster is aged 5 years, may evolve into conduct disorder in older kids and adolescents.


Given the high probability that oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) occurs alongside attention disorders, learning disorders, and conduct disturbances, an evaluation for these disorders is indicated for comprehensive treatment. Pharmacologic treatment (e.g., stimulant medication) for ADHD may be beneficial once this is diagnosed. Aspergers kids with oppositional behavior in the school setting should undergo necessary screening testing in school to evaluate for possible learning disabilities. With the multifaceted nature of associated problems in OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, comprehensive treatment may include medication, parenting and family therapy, and consultation with the school staff. If kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are found to have ADHD as well, appropriate treatment of ADHD may help them to restore their focus and attention and decrease their impulsivity; such treatment may enable their social and behavioral interventions to be more effective.

Parent management training (PMT) is recommended for families of Aspergers kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER because it has been demonstrated to affect negative interactions that repeatedly occur between the kids and their moms and dads. PMT consists of procedures in which parents are trained to change their own behaviors and thereby alter their youngster's problem behavior in the home. PMT is based on 35 years of well-developed research showing that oppositional and defiant patterns arise from maladaptive parent-child interactions that start in early childhood.

These patterns develop when moms and dads inadvertently reinforce disruptive and deviant behaviors in a youngster by giving those behaviors a significant amount of negative attention. At the same time, the parents, who are often exhausted by the struggle to obtain compliance with simple requests, usually fail to provide positive attention; often, the moms and dads have infrequent positive interactions with their kids. The pattern of negative interactions evolves quickly as the result of repeated, ineffective, emotionally expressed commands and comments; ineffective harsh punishments; and insufficient attention and modeling of appropriate behaviors.

PMT alters the pattern by encouraging the parent to pay attention to prosocial behavior and to use effective, brief, non-aversive punishments. Treatment is conducted primarily with the moms and dads; the therapist demonstrates specific procedures to modify parental interactions with their youngster. Moms and dads are first trained to simply have periods of positive play interaction with their youngster. They then receive further training to identify the youngster's positive behaviors and to reinforce these behaviors. At that point, parents are trained in the use of brief negative consequences for misbehavior. Treatment sessions provide the moms and dads with opportunities to practice and refine the techniques.

Follow-up studies of operational PMT techniques in which moms and dads successfully modified their behavior showed continued improvements for years after the treatment was finished. Treatment effects have been stronger with younger kids, especially in those with less severe problems. Recent research suggests that less severe problems, rather than a younger patient age, is predictive of treatment success. Approximately 65% of families show significant clinical benefit from well-designed parent management programs.

Regardless of the Aspergers youngster's age, intervention early in the developing pattern of oppositional behavior is likely to be more effective than waiting for the youngster to grow out of it. These kids can benefit from group treatment. The process of modeling behaviors and reactions within group settings creates a real-life adaptation process. In younger kids, combined treatment in which moms and dads attend a PMT group while the kids go to a social skills group has consistently resulted in the best outcome. The efficacy of group treatment of adolescents with oppositional behaviors has been debated. Group therapy for adolescents with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER is most beneficial when it is structured and focused on developing the skills of listening, empathy, and effective problem solving.

Obstacles to Treatment—

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and other conduct problems, can be intractable. Despite advances in treatment, many Aspergers kids continue to have long-term negative sequelae. PMT requires parental cooperation and effort for success. Existing psychiatric conditions in the moms and dads can be a major obstacle to effective treatment. Depression in a parent, particularly the mother, can prevent successful intervention with the youngster and become worse if the youngster's behavior is out of control. Substance abuse and other more severe psychiatric conditions can adversely affect parenting skills, and these conditions are particularly problematic for the moms and dads of a youngster with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER.

In situations in which the moms and dads lack the resources to effectively manage their Aspergers youngster, services can be obtained through schools or county mental health agencies. Many states have effective "wrap around" services, which include a full-day school program and home-based therapy services to maintain progress in the home setting. Thus, effective treatment can include resources from several agencies, and coordination is critical. If county mental health or school special education services are involved, one person is usually designated to coordinate services in those systems.

My Aspergers Child: Parent Management Training (PMT) for Parents with Defiant Aspergers Children

• Aspergers and ADHD
• Aspergers and antisocial actions
• Aspergers and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
• Aspergers and conduct disorder
• Aspergers and defiant behavior
• Aspergers and defiant disorder
• Aspergers and disruptive behavior
• Aspergers and harshly punitive behaviors
• Aspergers and hostile behavior
• Aspergers and impulsivity
• Aspergers and irritability
• Aspergers and learning disorders
• Aspergers and maladaptive parent-child interactions
• Aspergers and noncompliance with commands
• Aspergers and ODD
• Aspergers and oppositional defiant disorder
• Aspergers and overreaction to life events
• Aspergers and parent management training
• Aspergers and peer rejection
• Aspergers and stubbornness
• Aspergers defiant disorder
• Aspergers negativistic behavior


Discipline Problems in Kids and Teens with ASD Level 1


Our son has autism but it would appear to be a mild condition as he has developed very well and does not exhibit extreme symptoms of the syndrome. However my wife and I have become exasperated of late in trying to teach our child about inappropriate or naughty behaviour. He does not respond to sanctions or punishments and even when he does and the reason for a sanction is explained he does not seem to learn from the sanction so that the behaviour is often repeated again and again and the threat of the same or similar sanction has no effect. Can you make any suggestions? Sanctions include being sent to his room, removal of favourite toys or treats and although he responds/accepts the actual punishment he will not learn the lesson which we are trying to teach him. 


Disciplining kids displaying behavior consistent with ASD level 1 (high-functioning autism) will often require an approach which is somewhat unique compared to that of other kids. Finding the balance between understanding the needs of a youngster with ASD and discipline which is age appropriate and situationally necessary is achievable when applying some simple but effective strategies. These strategies can be implemented both at home and in more public settings.

General Behavior Problems

Traditional discipline may fail to produce the desired results for kids with ASD, primarily because they are unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Consequently, punitive measures are apt to exacerbate the type of behavior the punishment is intended to reduce, whilst at the same time giving rise to distress in both the youngster and parent.

At all times the emotional and physical well-being of your youngster should take priority. Often this will necessitate removing your youngster from a potentially distressing situation as soon as possible. Consider maintaining a diary of your youngster's behavior with a view to ascertaining patterns or triggers. Recurring behavior may be indicative of a youngster taking some satisfaction in receiving a desired response from peers, parents or teachers.
==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

For example, a youngster with ASD may come to understand that hurting another youngster in class will result in his being removed from class, notwithstanding the associated consequence to his peer. The solution may not be most effectively rooted in punishing the youngster for the behavior, or even attempting to explain the situation from the perspective of their injured peer, but by treating the root cause behind the motivation for the misbehavior...for example, can the youngster be made more comfortable in class so that they will not want to leave it?

One of the means to achieve this may be to focus on the positive. Praise for good behavior, and reinforcement by way of something like a Reward Book, can assist. The use of encouraging verbal cues delivered in a calm tone are likely to elicit more beneficial responses than the harsher verbal warnings which might be effective on kids who are not displaying some sort of autistic characteristic. If necessary, when giving directions to cease a type of misbehavior, these should also be couched as positives rather than negatives. For example, rather than telling a youngster to stop hitting his brother with the ruler, the youngster should be directed to put the ruler down.

Obsessive or Fixated Behavior

Almost all kids go through periods of development where they become engrossed in one subject matter or another, but kids with ASD often display obsessive and repetitive characteristics, which can have significant implications for behavior.

For example, if an ASD youngster becomes fixated upon reading a particular story each night, they may become distressed if this regime is not adhered to, or if the story is interrupted. Again, the use of a behavior diary can assist in identifying fixations for your youngster. Once a fixation is identified, it is important to set appropriate boundaries for your youngster. Providing a structure within which your youngster can explore the obsession can assist in then keeping the obsession within reasonable limits, without the associated angst which might otherwise arise through such limitations. For example, tell your youngster that they may watch their favorite cartoon for half an hour after dinner, and make clear time for that in their routine.

It is appropriate to utilize the obsession to motivate and reward your youngster for good behavior. Always ensure any reward associated with positive behavior is granted immediately to assist the youngster recognizing the nexus between the two.

A particularly useful technique to try to develop social reciprocity is to have your youngster talk for five minutes about a particularly favored topic after they have listened to you talk about an unrelated topic. This serves to help your youngster understand that not everyone shares their enthusiasm for their subject matter.

Bridging the Gap between ASD and Discipline and Other Siblings

For siblings without autism, the differential and what at times no doubt appears to be preferential treatment received by an ASD sibling can give rise to feelings of confusion and frustration. Often they will fail to understand why their brother or sister apparently seems free to behave as they please without the normal constraints placed upon them.

It is important to explain to siblings or peers of ASD kids and encourage open discussion about the disorder itself. Encouragement should extend to the things siblings can do to assist the autistic youngster, and this should be positively reinforced through acknowledgement when it occurs.

Sleep Difficulties
Kids on the spectrum are renowned for experiencing sleep problems. They may have lesser sleep requirements, and as such are more likely to become anxious about sleeping, or may find they become anxious when waking during the night or early in the morning.
==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Combat your youngster's anxiety by making their bedrooms a place of safety and comfort. Remove or store items which might be prone to injure your youngster if they decide to wander at night. Include in the behavioral diary a record of your youngster's sleep patterns. It may assist your youngster if you keep a list of their routine, including dinner, bath time, story and bed, in order to provide structure. Include an image or symbol of them waking in the morning to provide assurance as to what will happen. Social stories have proven to be a particularly successful tactic in decreasing a youngster's anxiety by providing clear instructions on how part of their day is likely to play out.

At School

Another autistic characteristic is that kids will often experience difficulty during parts of the school day which lack structure. If left to their own devices their difficulties with social interaction and self-management can result in anxiety. The use of a buddy system can assist in providing direction, as can the creation of a timetable for recess and lunch times. These should be raised with class teachers and implemented with their assistance.

Explain the concept of free time to your youngster, or consider providing a separate purpose or goal for your youngster during such time, such as reading a book, or helping to set up paint and brushes for the afternoon tasks.

In Public

Kids with ASD can become overwhelmed to the point of distress by even a short sourjourn in public. The result is that many parents with ASD simply seek to avoid as much as possible situations where their youngster is exposed to the public. Whilst expedient, it may not offer the best long term solution to your youngster, and there are strategies to assist with outings.

Consider providing your youngster with an ipad, or have the radio on in the car to block out other sounds and stimuli. Prepare a social story or list explaining to the youngster a trip to the shops, or doctor. Be sure to include on the list your return home. Consider giving your youngster a task to complete during the trip, or having them assist you. At all times, maintaining consistency when dealing with ASD and discipline is key. It pays to ensure that others involved in your youngster's care are familiar with your strategies and techniques, such as those outlined above, and are able to apply them.
==> Crucial Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Most importantly, don't hesitate to seek support networks for parents with ASD, and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge those who have dealt with the disorder before you have developed. The assistance you can gain from these and other resources can assist you in developing important strategies to deal with problems with ASD in a manner most beneficial to your youngster.

Additional Points to Consider

An autistic youngster may throw tantrum or behave aggressively when he is disappointed or frustrated as other kids do. But he is not doing it intentionally, because as an Autistic youngster, he is unable to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings. He doesn't know that other people hurt when he hit them. He may learn this as he gets older, but it may take sometimes. So how do parents of ASD kids tell them to not hit other people? How can they handle their misbehavior?

Discipline is about teaching your youngster good and appropriate behavior. Discipline is about helping them to become independent and responsible people. Regardless of whether your youngster is special need or not, you still need to discipline him with the consideration of his special needs. In particular, you need to keep in mind his unusual perception of pain. Therefore, hitting them or any physical punishment is a big no-no. The hitting will not teach that their behavior is unacceptable. In contrast, it may encourage them that hitting others is an acceptable behavior. It may even encourage self-injurious behavior. In fact many experts strongly agree to not use physical punishment on autistic kids and advised them to find alternative methods of discipline method.

The best method is through positive discipline, where you focus on his acceptable behavior and provide rewards so that your youngster would be encouraged to repeat the behavior. To do that, first you need to establish ground rules. The ground rules must states specifically of what is consider as an acceptable behavior and what is not. You must catch and reward them when they are well-behaved and following the rules. A reward need not necessarily be a physical or expensive reward. It can be genuine praise or word of encouragement. Most importantly, the reward must be clear and specific. The youngster should be able to know exactly the behavior that earned the reward. Rather than saying "Good job," say "Thank you for cleaning up your room."

Some Autistic youngsters are not able to generalize information. They are usually not able to apply what they learn in one learning context to another learning context. For example, he may learn that hitting his friend at school is not acceptable, but he may not necessarily understand that he cannot hit his sister at home. That is, once the situation changes, it will be a totally a new learning experience for him. Be consistent and provide many repetitions in disciplining them. If there is punishment, make sure that the punishment is always the same for the bad behavior. A consistent environment and many repetitions will help your Autistic youngster to learn and remember the differences between right and wrong.

Disciplining an Autistic youngster is not easy, but with your loving care and understanding of him will make the task much easier to fulfill. I feel by accommodating his special needs and the loved he feel, he takes discipline a lot better. Be persistent and enjoy every small success. He may not be the captain of a football team, but he is taking small steps to become an independent and responsible person.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

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