Search This Site

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

The Functional Analytic Approach to Behavior Modification for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

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

In order to accomplish a functional behavioral assessment, several assumptions about behavior must be regarded as valid:

• Behavior has communicative value. Though it is generally accepted that all behavior has communicative value, it is important to remember that children with Aspergers and HFA generally do not have a behavioral intent to disrupt classroom settings, but instead problematic behaviors may arise from other needs (e.g., self-protection in stressful situations). Although children with the disorder typically have excellent language skills, their ability to use communication effectively in a social context may be limited. Inappropriate behavior may be the only available communicative response to difficult situations until other options are learned.

• Behavior is context related. All children demonstrate some level of variability in behavior across different settings. This is just as true for children on the autism spectrum. In fact, understanding how the environment impacts a child is one of the chief outcomes of a functional behavioral assessment. This information has particular value for preventive methods or to set the stage for teaching alternative skills. Effective behavioral support is contingent on understanding the child, the context in which he operates, and the reason(s) for behavior.

• Behavior is functional. Behavior serves a specific purpose(s). For children with Aspergers and HFA, these functions may be expressed in highly idiosyncratic and often complex verbal ways.

Though there is some disagreement about the best way to conduct a comprehensive functional behavioral assessment, most clinicians are in agreement about the key outcomes of such an assessment. They are:
  • identification of the consequences that maintain behavior (i.e., once a behavior starts, what keeps it going over time?)
  • description of situations most commonly associated with the occurrence of problematic behavior
  • clear and unambiguous description of the problematic behavior(s)

A functional behavioral assessment should provide information that:
  • guides the development of supports that are logically connected
  • increases understanding of the child
  • describes the physical and social setting(s) in which the behavior occurs
  • describes the problem behavior itself

Once an understanding of problem behaviors is achieved, it is helpful to come up with a behavioral modification plan. A good behavioral modification plan includes focus on:
  • expanding beyond consequence strategies (e.g., time outs)
  • preventing the occurrence of problem behavior
  • teaching socially acceptable alternatives to problem behavior (especially alternatives that serve the same purpose as the problem behavior and therefore are more likely to be adopted by the child)



Next, the clinician should use a comprehensive format for outlining multi-component supports that addresses the following:
  1. Antecedent/setting event strategies
  2. Alternative skills training
  3. Consequence strategies
  4. Long-term prevention

Let’s look at each of these areas:

1. Antecedent/setting event strategy: The primary goals of this strategy are to prevent or reduce the likelihood of problem behavior and to set the stage for learning more adaptive skills over time. For example, many children on the spectrum have difficulty with noisy, crowded environments. Therefore, the newly arrived middle school student who becomes physically aggressive in the hallway during passing periods may need an accommodation of leaving class a minute or two early to avoid the congestion which provokes this behavior. Over time, the student may learn to negotiate the hallways simply by being more accustomed to the situation, or by being given specific instruction or support.

Key issues to address when discussing this strategy are:
  • What can be done to eliminate the problem (i.e., the antecedent condition)?
  • What can be done to modify the situation if it can’t be eliminated entirely?
  • Will the antecedent strategy need to be permanent, or is it a temporary "fix" which allows the student to increase skills needed to manage the situation in the future?

The importance of using antecedent strategies should not be underestimated. Kids with Aspergers and HFA often have to manage a great amount of personal stress. Striking a balance of short and long term accommodations through manipulating antecedents to problem behavior is often critical in setting the stage for later skill development.

2. Alternative Skills Training: The primary purpose of this strategy is to teach skills that replace problem behavior by serving the same purpose as the challenging behavior. For example, a student with the disorder may have trouble "entering" into a kickball game by asking to play and instead simply inserts himself into the game, thereby offending the other players and risking exclusion. Instead, the youngster can be coached on how and when to ask to enter into the game.

Here is a particularly useful framework for guiding efforts towards teaching alternative skills by examining the following three categories:

A. Equivalence training
B. General skills training
C. Self-regulation training

A. Equivalence training requires support persons to ask the following sequential questions:
  • How will alternative skills be taught?
  • What alternative skill(s) will be taught which serves the same function as the problem behavior?
  • What is the function of the problem behavior?

B. General “skills training” requires asking the following sequential questions:
  • How will alternative skills be taught?
  • What other academic, social, or communication skills will be taught that will prevent the problem behavior from occurring?
  • What skill deficits are contributing to the problem behavior?

C. Self-regulation training requires asking the following sequential questions:
  • How will skills be taught?
  • What events appear to be contributing to the child's anger or frustration in reference to the problem behavior?
  • What self-control skills will be taught to help the child deal with difficult/frustrating situations?

One particularly relevant means to teach alternative skills is through the use of self-management strategies. Self-management is a procedure in which Aspergers and HFA children are taught to discriminate their own target behavior and record the occurrence or absence of that target behavior. Self-management is a particularly useful technique to assist children to achieve greater levels of independent or even inter-dependent functioning across many settings and situations.

By learning self-management techniques, children can become more self-directed and less dependent on continuous supervision and control. Instead of teaching situation specific behaviors, self-management teaches a more general skill that can be applied in an unlimited number of settings.

Self-management strategies have particular relevance and immediate utility for children on the autism spectrum. The basic steps for teaching self-management are:
  • clearly define the target behavior
  • identify child reinforcers
  • design or choose a self-management method or recording device
  • teach the child to use the self-management device
  • teach self-management independence

It is also important for teachers to monitor their own behavior when working with "special needs" students. Each time a teacher reprimands a child for misbehavior, an opportunity to reframe the moment in terms of the child's need to develop alternative skills through a means such as self-management training may be lost.

3. Consequence strategies: Though consequences have traditionally been framed in terms of how they reduce problem behavior as a form of discipline, reframing consequences in terms of “reinforcement for achieving alternative behaviors” should be the focus for Aspergers and HFA kids. One way to reframe the use of consequences is to develop them as “planned responses to instructional situations.” This shifting of the use of consequences does not mean that negative consequences should be eliminated (especially in moments of crisis), but that multiple negative consequences are likely to heighten anxiety levels for the child and compete with teaching alternative skills.

4. Long-term prevention: In the presence of immediate behavioral concerns, it may be difficult to come up with a long-term approach to a child's educational program. However, it is critical that plans for supporting a child over the long-term be outlined from the beginning. Many supports with the most relevance for kids on the spectrum (e.g., specific accommodations, peer supports, social skills, self-management strategies, etc.) must be viewed as procedures that are developed progressively as the youngster moves through school. These are not “crisis management” techniques, but the very strategies that can decrease crisis situations from developing.

Those involved with the child will need to collaborate on a behavioral modification plan that is clear and easily implemented. Once developed, the plan will need to be monitored across settings. Inconsistencies in expectations and behaviors will only serve to heighten the challenges demonstrated by the child.

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

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

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

____________________

Finding Hidden Meaning Behind Problematic Behaviors in Kids with ASD

"Question: How to know what triggers my son's (high functioning autistic) difficult behavior? Thanks in advance!"

Many parents of children with ASD - Level 1 [High-Functioning Autism] have discovered that some of their youngster’s behaviors make no obvious sense and do not serve any clear purpose. But when these children engage in “odd” or confusing behavior, they are also sending the parent hidden clues about things that are important to them. Thus, it’s the parent’s job is to break the code so she can interpret the clues.

By becoming more like a “detective,” parents can begin to notice coded messages they didn’t see before, and as a result, find more effective ways to help their “special needs” youngster. Becoming a good detective also helps parents respond more carefully to peculiar behaviors so they don’t unintentionally reinforce or reward them.

Parents of autistic children can begin to develop “investigator skills” by recording problematic behaviors, similar to how Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees. For example: 
  • Is the child attempting to avoid a demanding task?
  • What activities or interactions take place just prior to the problematic behavior? 
  • Does the same thing often happen first?
  • What time do these events most often happen?
  • Are there any settings where the behavior does not occur?
  • In what settings is the behavior observed? 
  • Is the behavior problem associated with certain social or environmental conditions? 
  • What usually happens immediately after the behavior? 
  • Who is present when the behavior occurs?

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

Most difficult behaviors are triggered by an event. Just as you might suddenly feel thirsty as you walk past a lemonade stand, there are “triggers” in your youngster’s life that elicit certain behaviors. Use a diary to try to identify these triggers for your youngster’s most challenging behaviors. Instead of getting upset with your child when he or she acts-out, look for how the context is out of synch with him or her. View the incident as an opportunity to learn more about your child.



Here is a good example of items to list in your diary:

Behavioral Investigation—

Date: ______
  1. Describe the behavior of concern: _______________
  2. How can I tell the behavior is about to start? _______________
  3. How intense is the behavior? _______________
  4. How long does it last? _______________
  5. How often does the behavior occur? _______________
  6. What behavior(s) might serve the same function for my child that is appropriate within the social/environmental context? _______________
  7. What conditions are most likely to precipitate (“set-off”) the behavior? _______________
  8. What does my child get or avoid? _______________
  9. What is happening when the behavior occurs? _______________
  10. What is the likely function (intent) of the behavior (i.e., why do I think my child behaves this way)? _______________
  11. What usually happens after the behavior? _______________
  12. When/where is the behavior most/least likely to occur? _______________
  13. With whom is the behavior most/least likely to occur? _______________
  14. What other information might contribute to creating an effective behavioral intervention plan (e.g., under what conditions does the behavior not occur)? _______________

Cognitive, Behavioral, and Moral Inflexibility in Kids on the Autism Spectrum 



Here are some crucial things to consider when doing your investigation:

1. As with any child, being hungry, thirsty, or tired can make your youngster grouchy. A chronic illness or low-grade infection can cause behavioral issues as well. Try to discover any – and all – possible sources of pain (e.g., abscesses, broken bones, bruises, cuts and splinters, gut, infections, acid reflux, sprains, teeth, etc.).

2. Consider sensory and emotional regulation. Your youngster’s sensory experiences are very different from the “typical” child. He is likely easily overwhelmed by information coming in through the senses (e.g., loud noises) and isn’t getting enough input from the senses responsible for self-awareness and regulation. We all know about the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. But there are two additional senses that are important to understand: the vestibular sense (controls balance) and proprioception (the sense of one’s body in space). In many autistic children, some of the information from these senses is too little, too much, or distorted –  leading to feelings of anxiety, physical pain, or disengagement. As a result, the child may “act-out” behaviorally as a way to cope.

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

3. Coordination problems can contribute to stress and behavior issues. For example, as anyone who has ever been picked last for a team knows, gym class can be nerve-wracking. If your youngster has trouble undoing zippers or buttons, the short time allotted for bathroom breaks or locker room changes can add tremendous pressure. Also, if the child walks awkwardly, negotiating a crowded hallway between classes is anxiety-producing. These issues often influence “acting-out” behaviors that, unfortunately, may result in the child receiving some form of punishment.

4. Peer-rejection is a big contributor to difficult behaviors. For example, maybe your son realizes he has no friends, so recess time is particularly tough for him. Also, do some investigation to see if bullying or teasing is an issue.

5. Attention-span difficulties can influence behavior, resulting in unwarranted punishment from teachers. For example, your youngster may “tune-out” during class because the teacher or the subject matter isn’t engaging enough. Talk with your child’s teacher if this appears to be an issue.

6. Some problematic behaviors, especially those that seem abrupt or particularly odd, may be due to seizures. If you think this could be an issue, keep a very careful record of what you observe. Also, see if your youngster’s teacher has similar observations.

7. Changes in home-life can contribute to behavior problems (e.g., health crisis, job change, move, new sibling, mom and dad going through a divorce, etc.). Often times, well-meaning parents think their “special needs” child is handling everything fine, so there is no reason to be concerned. But if parents are stressed about something, chances are their youngster will be, too – especially if she is powerless to do anything about it.

8. Try to identify any food sensitivities or allergies that could be troubling your youngster. Look for the signs of a problem in this area (e.g., red/flushed cheeks or ears, diarrhea within a few hours of eating a particular food, etc.). Food sensitivity is often one of the biggest contributors to “mysterious” and sudden changes in behavior.

In summary, rather than viewing your child’s behavior as “misbehavior,” look attentively for the clues that he or she is sending by conducting your own investigation. With a little good detective work, parents can narrow down exactly what initiates certain unwanted behaviors. Then, once the problem has been identified, parents are in a much better position to employ effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Behavioral Support for Students with Aspergers & High-Functioning Autism

Effective behavioral support for a student with special needs requires highly individualized strategies that address the primary areas of difficulty in managing anxiety, communication, preferences for sameness and rules, ritualistic behaviors, social understanding and interactions, and sensory sensitivities.

While the specific components of a positive behavioral support plan will vary from child to child, the following tips will assist teachers as they work towards achieving the best outcomes on behalf of their special needs student:

1. Students with special needs experience communication difficulties. While they are able to use language quite effectively to discuss topics of interest, they may have great difficulty expressing sadness, anger, frustration and other important messages. As a result, behavior may be the most effective means to communicate when words fail.

2. Since behaviors are influenced by the quality of relationships with teachers, teachers should monitor their own behavior when working with special needs kids. Each time a teacher reprimands a child for misbehavior, an opportunity may be lost to "reframe" the moment in terms of the child’s need to develop alternative skills.



3. Schools that focus on suspension and expulsion as their primary disciplinary approach (rather than on teaching social skills and conflict resolution) are typically less effective.

4. Parents, teachers, and other school staff should collaborate on a behavior support plan that is clear and easily implemented. Once developed, the plan should be monitored across settings and regularly reviewed for its strengths and weaknesses. Inconsistencies in expectations and behaviors will only heighten the challenges demonstrated by a child with special needs.

5. Never assume that special needs students know appropriate social behaviors. While these kids are quite gifted in many ways, they will need to be taught social and communication skills as carefully as academic skills.

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


6. “Antecedents” are events that happen immediately before the student’s difficult behavior. “Setting events” are conditions that can enhance the possibility that a child may engage in difficult behavior (e.g., if a child is sick, hungry or tired, she may be less tolerant of schedule changes). By understanding settings events that can set the stage for difficult behaviors, changes can be made on those days when a child may not be performing at her best to (a) reduce the likelihood of difficult situations and (b) set the stage for learning more adaptive skills. In the classroom, many antecedents may spark behavioral incidents (e.g., many children with special needs have difficulty with noisy, crowded environments).

Therefore, the special needs student who becomes physically aggressive in the hallway during passing periods may need to leave class a minute or two early to avoid the congestion which provokes this behavior. Over time, the child may learn to negotiate the hallways simply by being more accustomed to the situation, or by being given specific instruction or support.

7. A major issue is fitting special needs children into typical disciplinary practices. Many of these kids become highly anxious by loss of privileges, time outs or reprimands, and often can’t regroup following their application.

8. Behavior serves a purpose. The purpose or function of the behavior may be highly idiosyncratic and understood only from the perspective of the child. Students with special needs generally do not have a behavioral intent to disrupt the classroom, but instead difficult behaviors may arise from other needs (e.g., self-protection in stressful situations).

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

9. Children with special needs need to be taught acceptable behaviors that replace difficult behaviors, but that serve the same purpose as the difficult behaviors. For instance, the child may have trouble entering into a basketball game and instead inserts himself into the game, thus offending the other players and risking exclusion. Instead, the child can be coached on how and when to enter into a game.

10. Lastly, it is important to understand the idiosyncratic nature of special needs students and to consider difficult behaviors in light of characteristics associated with their disorder. Here are some general traits of the special needs student:
  • Academic difficulties: restricted problem solving skills, literal thinking, deficiencies with abstract reasoning.
  • Behavior serves a function, is related to context, and is a form of communication.
  • Emotional vulnerability: low self-esteem, easily overwhelmed, poor coping with stressors, self-critical.
  • Impairment in social interactions: difficulty understanding the “rules” of interaction, poor comprehension of jokes and metaphor, pedantic speaking style.
  • Inattention: poor organizational skills, easily distracted, focused on irrelevant stimuli, difficulty learning in group contexts.
  • Insistence on sameness: easily overwhelmed by minimal changes in routines, sensitive to environmental stressors, preference for rituals.
  • Poor motor coordination: slow clerical speed, clumsy gait, unsuccessful in games involving motor skills.
  • Restricted range of social competence: preoccupation with singular topics, asking repetitive questions, obsessively collecting items.



Too often, the focus of a behavior management plan is on discipline (i.e., strategies that focus exclusively on eliminating problematic behavior). Plans like this don’t focus on long-term behavioral change. An effective plan should expand beyond issuing consequences (e.g., time outs, loss of privileges, suspensions, etc.) and focus on preventing the problem behavior by teaching socially acceptable alternatives and creating a positive learning environment.

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

==> 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

==> Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.


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

Trouble-Shooting Tips for Teachers of Asperger's/HFA Students


“Would you happen to have a snapshot or simple summary of strategies my HFA son’s teacher could use to help him cope with school-related anxiety. He gets stressed-out over something, and then has a meltdown, which his teacher seems unable to deal with effectively. I need something (like a fact sheet) that she can refer to quickly when in the middle of a crisis. Thank you.”

Sure thing! I’ll try to keep it short and to the point...

Dear Teacher,

In order to create an effective intervention for problem behaviors associated with Asperger's and High Functioning Autism (HFA), follow these steps:

1. Hypothesize the function of the problem behavior (e.g., escape/avoidance, sensory feedback, social attention, wants tangible item or activity, etc.).

2. Gather information.

a. Antecedent— Does the problem behavior occur:
  • Following a request to perform a difficult task?
  • Repeatedly, in the same way for long periods of time, even when no one is around? 
  • When a request for an item or activity is denied? 
  • When you are attending to other students in the classroom?

b. Consequence— When the problem behavior occurs, do you:
  • Allow the child to engage in inappropriate behavior?
  • Attend to the child? 
  • Leave the child alone? 
  • Negotiate or give the desired item/activity



3. Plan an intervention.

a. Based on information gathered, are environmental changes needed (e.g., remove distracters, move the student closer to you, limit materials available to the child, etc.)?

b. Based on information gathered, determine how people should react to the problem behavior each time it occurs (e.g., plan to remove privileges, plan to redirect, plan to ignore, plan to attend, etc.).

4. Identify a replacement behavior.

a. What appropriate behavior is “functionally equivalent” to the problem behavior?
  • Teach the child to communicate his wants appropriately to replace escape/avoidance behaviors.
  • Teach the child to ask if he can use the computer later to replace tantrum behavior.
  • Manipulate a stress ball or twist pen to replace inappropriate hand movements.
  • Teach the child to raise his hand to replace attention-seeking behaviors.

b. Complete replacement behavior planning guide with a team:
  • How will the team evaluate if - and how - the child uses the new response?
  • In what situations will training occur? 
  • What functionally equivalent behavior is the team going to train in place of the challenging behavior? 
  • What motivation system will be implemented during training? 
  • Which behavior is the team going to target for replacement? 
  • Who will be responsible for conducting the training sessions?

Good luck!


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

Resolving School Behavior Problems in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Question

"Mark, I have a daughter age 6 who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age two. She received intensive therapy, 40 hours plus, per week utilizing various techniques. She is now 6. She is extremely friendly to even strangers, her IQ is 133… she is great with the exception of some behavioral problems. She is in first grade and is getting in trouble and being punished regularly for things such a marking on things she should not mark on, refusing to write. I need help."

Answer

You need to have a functional behavior assessment performed. Consider the following scenarios: 
 
A child with ASD has a behavior meltdown, in the school hall way. He begins to scream and hit other child. A grown-up is able to redirect the child and thus eliminate the behavior. Afterward, the team meets to discuss behavioral approaches for the future and to try to find out what led to this behavioral incident. 
 
As the team discusses potential reasons for the behavior, they discover that the child has been the victim of intense bullying and teasing. In response, the team questions what they can do in the future to eliminate behavioral difficulties. The issue of dealing with the bullies is never discussed.

Another child has a history of behavioral challenges that were minimal during elementary school, but have intensified in middle school. The team realizes that middle school presents special challenges because of changing classes and working with multiple staff. 
 

Accommodations are discussed that may assist the child in making numerous transitions throughout the school day. Despite these efforts, behavior incidents continue to occur. The behaviors are most likely to occur in the cafeteria or in hallways, which are incredibly noisy. It is suggested that in the future, in-school suspension be considered when there is a behavioral challenge. 
 
This is the approach used with other child, and the school has a strong zero-tolerance policy. The child is warned repeatedly. Despite these warnings, behaviors continue and actually escalate, resulting in removal from the educational setting.

Responding to Problematic Behavior—

When a youngster with ASD engages in problematic behavior, a typical response includes trying to identify what is going on within the youngster that leads to this behavior crisis. Questions are asked, such as, “Why is he exhibiting this behavior?” “Why is she hitting others?” or “What will stop this behavior?” 
 
All too often, this last question keeps us focused on consequence procedures that are child specific. However, simply focusing on the child as the sole source of the behavior provides limited insight into potential solutions and problems. In these situations, there are multiple issues to consider.

First, the federal law guiding special education services, the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), requires special procedures and safeguards to be used when considering discipline for child with disabilities. These IDEIA provisions regarding discipline were designed to ensure that kids with disabilities maintain their ability to receive an appropriate education, even though the symptoms of their disability may include behaviors that require interventions. 
 
These provisions consider the amount of time a child may be removed from class or school due to behavior, and require the school team to analyze whether the behavior is related to the child’s disability. This process is called manifestation determination. If the behavior is determined to be due to the disability, the law requires that a functional behavior assessment be conducted that results in an individually designed behavior support plan. This plan should use positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports to address the behavior and teach alternative ways of responding.

When conducting a functional behavior assessment, professionals and family members examine setting events or triggers that may increase the probability of these behaviors. These setting events may not be readily apparent. For example, a child with ASD is ill, has had a difficult morning ride on the bus or has not slept. These conditions will increase the likelihood that a behavior incident will occur. For most of us, stresses in life, changes in morning routines or skipping our morning coffee may set us up to be moody and agitated. These are setting events. 
 
Setting events that we often do not consider are related to the culture of the school. Schools that struggle with bullying, high rates of suspension or expulsion, or even high staff turnover may be settings that promote problematic behaviors. If this is the case, then schools should take a systematic approach in creating a school culture that is responsive to child and staff.


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

Well, I guess it’s time for me to tell our school administration about my son. I initially wanted to wait on this as I was trying to grasp what ASD was, make sure he really has this and really understand it. I feel I have the tools to do this now, two diagnoses from two professionals, a neurologist and a psychologist and after the two incidents that happened at school, I must say something.

First incident: I received a call from the school that my son was doubled over in pain in the office because he said his stomach hurt. I arrived at the school to pick him up in the office. The secretary said that he was in the bathroom (I told her to encourage him to go over the phone as he has had this problem/ his 8 yrs of life) Well, I waited and waited and waited...I told her he was taking too long. I then decided to knock on the bathroom door. He was not there. I walked over to his classroom and looked into the window and there he was! I went back into the office and told them that he was in his classroom. 
 
The office called him back so I could assess the situation. He now felt fine and wanted to stay at school. He loves school and could have easily pretended he was sick or just come home but that is not how he is. The office had no clue their student went m.i.a on him and if they had looked him in the eye and told him to make sure he came back and check on him after 3 min he would have been back. In his mind, he was ok and went back or just forgot and had his mind on one idea.

Second incident: My son was called into the office (he never gets called to the office!) because he spelled out loud an inappropriate word at school. The note said that he said the F word for which he does NOT know nor ever heard. I was in shock, tears, you know it! They said he heard this from a kid at camp over the summer. I asked him what he said. He said "mom, I spelled Sucker" When he went to the office, the administrator asked him to spell what he spelled out on the playground and the admin said he spelled it with a F. My son told me that spelling that with an F is NOT a word and does NOT make sense. I know in my heart that the admin heard it wrong. An F and an F sound alike when said out loud. What really bothered me was that the admin thought my son was lying or changing his stories in the office. 
 
When he said to the admin, I did not spell that, I spelled sucker. the admin said "you know what you spelled!" that is just wrong and then after being questioned my son started to get confused and cry and told the admin...uuhh I forget, which he does! It was not the admins fault. I blame myself. They need to know my so does not lie. He is a truth teller! I told my son that he has a detention for spelling sucker and that is not a good word. I’m hurt and angry because now he has been exposed to the F word because the admin. Thought that is what he said. It’s so unfair! I did not bring up ASD etc when I was in the office crying and trying to make sense of all this. I did not want to use that as an excuse. I called for the impromptu meeting in the office, they did not.

My son is also going through testing for an auditory processing disorder (on Wed) and other language issues. His speech is unclear at times, slurs words (may have been why the admin thought he used an F) and had a hard time expressing himself at times. The school does not know this. The only teachers that know of his diagnosis are his current teacher, teacher from last year and the music teacher. I will now be setting up an appointment with the administration.

My son told me that he did hear the word sucker from a kid at camp and that the boy did not get into trouble for it but he somehow knew it was bad. He said "Mom, it is a bad word to say and that is why I SPELLED it!" From the mind of a child with ASD. Thank you, God that he did not say the F word even though the guy in admin thought so. I know what he said...they can believe what they want.

I wrote a letter stating that for the record, my son did not spell what they thought he spelled, but I stand by the school 100% and YES, he should have a 20 min. detention for spelling the word SUCKER.I do not allow that word in our home and as a matter of fact the word Stupid is a bad word in our home. Stating the facts and supporting the school at the same time, shows the school I’m not a crazy parent without a brain.

My son attends a private school that we love! The admin who heard him wrong, is an amazing individual. I respect him but I think his "hearing aid" needed to be turned up that day! Ahhhh, I need to laugh.

Thanks for listening, my eyes are swollen! ( :
 
 
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…

---------------------------------------------------------------

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...

--------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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...

------------------------------------------------------------

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...

Investigating and Resolving "Problem Behavior" in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

If you have a youngster with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) who exhibits problematic behavior, you have probably felt like an investigator, searching for clues and seeking hidden motivations. You may have come up with some quick and easy explanations for your youngster's behavioral issues (e.g., ones offered by parents at the park, your mother-in-law, and even by behavioral experts), but your youngster often has something completely different up his sleeve. Operating according to the easiest explanation will often make matters worse.

Even though there are explanations for your HFA youngster's “bad” behavior that take some of the fault from him, the effects of the behavior are unfortunate and must be addressed. For example, your youngster may push one of his friends or break a toy because of autism-related challenges not under his control, but he still has to face the consequences associated with this behavior. A full understanding of the situation can help you come up with some consequences that are appropriate and not so punitive as to remove all possibility of improvement. And the best way to come to a full understanding is through good detective work.

One way to be a good detective is to observe behavior by using a functional behavioral assessment (i.e., observing your youngster and noting everything that happens before, during, and after problem behaviors). With a few weeks of observation, you can often uncover the things that provoke your youngster (e.g., the itchy sweater he is wearing, the long wait in the gym after the bus drop-off, the breeze coming through a classroom window, etc.).

----------


Here’s is an example of a functional behavioral assessment:

Student’s name
: Ricky

Issue: Ricky had difficulty transitioning from resource room to physical education class

Location: The resource room

People involved: Resource teacher and classmates

Antecedent (i.e., what occurred before the incident): Resource teacher states, “It’s time for everyone to put their drawing materials away and get ready to go to the gym.”

  • Behavior #1 (i.e., what occurred during the incident): Ricky continued to draw in his art notebook. He glanced at classmates who had moved to the doorway.
  • Consequence #1 (i.e., what resulted at this stage of events): Resource teacher talked with the students for about one minute. She looked at Ricky and told him to put his pencil down and to get in line.
  • Behavior #2: Ricky turned his back to the teacher and threw his pencil on the floor.
  • Consequence #2: Teacher approached Ricky and told him to pick up the pencil.
  • Behavior #3: Ricky got up and picked up the pencil and took it to the art supplies drawer. Then he ran to the front of the classroom and climbed under the teacher’s desk.
  • Consequence #3: Teacher bent down to be at eye level with Ricky under the table and told him he was wasting everyone’s gym time, and that he needed to come out from under the desk and get in line.
  • Behavior #4: Ricky reached out his hand.
  • Consequence #4: Teacher took Ricky’s hand and led him to the end of the line.
  • Behavior #5: Ricky waved goodbye and smiled to his teacher and walked with the others to the gym.
  • Consequence #5: Teacher smiled, waved back and stated, “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

Hypothesis (i.e., best guess as to why the behavior occurs based on the assumption that other antecedents, behaviors and consequences showed a similar pattern): Ricky was seeking attention from his resource teacher

Goal (i.e., corrective action plan): Teach Ricky a more appropriate way to seek his teacher’s attention

Objectives (i.e., potential strategies used to accomplish the goal):
  • allow Ricky to ask a classmate to walk next to him on the way to gym
  • allow Ricky to be “line-leader”
  • allow Ricky to be the "timer" who pushes the two-minute warning buzzer
  • post Ricky’s name on the "hard workers of the week" bulletin board
  • praise Ricky for a specific work-related behavior or academic response just before asking students to line up for gym time

Although the example above involved problematic behavior at school, the same method can be applied by parents for behavior at home. The more you learn about your youngster’s disorder and his unique quirkiness, the better you will be able to discover the true motive behind the behavior and apply appropriate discipline (or leniency if warranted).

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

More Structure Equals Less Behavioral Problems 




Here is a personal example of applying functional behavioral analysis (see if you can identify the antecedent, behavior, and consequence):

One of my child clients with High-Functioning Autism was experiencing meltdowns pretty much daily whenever he was in special education class, which he attended for one hour each morning for writing practice since his penmanship was poor. As most people know who work with children on the autism spectrum, they tend to have poor writing abilities due to fine motor skills deficits.

I was asked by Michael's parents to go to the school and sit in the classroom to investigate.  Here is what I observed:

Michael entered the classroom and took his seat, which was in the rear of the room nearest the door that led to the hallway. As he began to practice writing, he would get frustrated and erase what he had written repeatedly to the point where he wore several holes in the paper. At that point, he picked up his paper, tore it into tiny pieces and threw it on the floor. This resulted in the teacher escorting Michael to another room where he was isolated from the other students for a period of time.

To make a long story short, on the day of my investigation, I took my seat in the very back of the classroom behind Michael. I immediately noticed that since we were sitting near the exit, most of the hallway noise was very audible. I also knew that based on personal experience, many children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's have hearing sensitivities. As I sat there, I had the thought that it would be difficult for even me to concentrate with the hustle and bustle right on the other side of the door. So purely on a hunch, we moved Michael to the front of the room furthest away from the door. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Michael was able to stay focused on his writing at that point and was not making as many mistakes, thus reducing his frustration-level.

So the hypothesis was this: Michael was unconsciously distracted by the noises in the hallway, which contributed to his frequent writing mistakes and frequent erasing. This in turn resulted in the writing paper being torn, which was the tipping-point for Michael to slip into a total state of frustration.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with High-Functioning Autism
 
Obviously, the corrective action was to move Michael to an area of the classroom that was less noisy and distracting. It also appeared to help that he was near the teacher and could receive frequent one-on-one assistance.

As a mother or father, you will need to develop a trained eye for your AS or HFA child, as well as an intuitive understanding of what makes him tic. Your youngster needs you to read all the hidden cues. He also needs to follow his own instincts, which may be telling him that something's too difficult, too uncomfortable, etc. Your youngster has no choice but to follow his instincts. Knowing this can help you be more empathetic and skilled in addressing difficult behavior.

Not all hidden cues are worth following. When you're investigating your youngster's confusing behavior, red herrings may show up (e.g., his eagerness to end a stressful situation by accepting blame even when it’s not his fault, your preconceived notions of “whodunit,” another youngster's self-protecting accusations, another adult's spin on the situation, etc.). If it feels to you like something is awry, chances are it is. Keep an open mind even in the face of seemingly “solid evidence,” and allow for the possibility that things may not be what they seem. Your intuition is still worth following – all “evidence” to the contrary.

Of course, there will be times when you have developed a wonderful hypothesis based on a good-faith investigation, but for some reason it just doesn’t pan-out (e.g., there is a missing piece of the puzzle that would make the picture so much clearer and turn your guesswork into certainty – if you could just find it; the strategies that have always worked in the past don't get the job done this time; the explanation you've developed through your intuition is not what is really going on, etc.). Always keep an eye out for that “missing link,” even if you seem to have resolved the situation to an acceptable degree. That little bit of extra information can resolve things more completely, and can help you prevent a particular problem behavior from occurring again.

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…

---------------------------------------------------------------

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...

--------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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...

------------------------------------------------------------

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...
 
------------------------------------------------------------
 
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

Parent Management Training [PMT] for Parents of Aspergers Children

Parent management training (PMT) is an adjunct to treatment that involves educating and coaching moms and dads to change their Aspergers child’s problem behaviors using principles of learning theory and behavior modification.

Purpose—

The aim of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is to decrease or eliminate an Aspergers child’s disruptive or inappropriate behaviors at home or school and to replace problematic ways of acting with positive interactions with peers, moms and dads and such authority figures as teachers. In order to accomplish this goal, PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING focuses on enhancing parenting skills. The PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING therapist coaches parents in applying such strategies as rewarding positive behavior, and responding to negative behavior by removing rewards or enforcing undesirable consequences (punishments).

Although PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING focuses on specific targeted behaviors rather than on the youngster's diagnosis as such, it has come to be associated with the treatment of certain disorders. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is used in treating oppositional defiant disorder , conduct disorder , intermittent explosive disorder (age-inappropriate tantrums), and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ). Such antisocial behaviors as fire-setting and truancy can also be addressed through PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING.

Description—

In PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING, the therapist conducts initial teaching sessions with the parent(s), giving a short summary of foundational concepts in behavior modification; demonstrating interventions for the moms and dads; and coaching parents in carrying out the techniques of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING. Early meetings with the therapist focus on training in the principles of behavior modification, response-contingent learning, and ways to apply the techniques. Moms and dads are instructed to define the behavior(s) to be changed concretely and specifically. In addition, they learn how to observe and identify relevant behavior and situational factors, and how to chart or otherwise record the youngster's behavior.

Defining, observing and recording behavior are essential to the success of this method, because when such behaviors as fighting or tantrums are highlighted in concrete, specific ways, techniques of reinforcement and punishment can be put to use. Progress or its absence is easier to identify when the description of the behavior is defined with enough clarity to be measurable, and when responses to the PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING interventions are tracked on a chart. After the Aspergers child’s parents grasp the basic interventions as well as when and how to apply them, the techniques that the moms and dads practiced with the therapist can be carried out at home.

Learning theory, which is the conceptual foundation of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING, deals with the ways in which organisms learn to respond to their environment and the factors that affect the frequency of a specific behavior. The core of learning theory is the notion that actions increase or decrease in frequency in response to the consequences that occur immediately after the action. Research in parent-child interactions in families with disruptive, difficult or defiant kids shows that parental responses are unintentionally reinforcing the unwanted behavior. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING trains moms and dads to become more careful in their reactions to a youngster's behavior.

The parents learn to be more discerning: to provide attention, praise and increased affection in reaction to the Aspergers child’s behaving in desired ways; and to withdraw attention, to suspend displays of affection, or to withdraw privileges in instances of less desirable behavior.

The most critical element of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is offering positive reinforcement for socially appropriate (or at least non-deviant) behaviors. An additional component involves responding to any undesired behaviors by removing rewards or applying punishment. These two types of response to the youngster must be carried out with great consistency. Consistent responding is important because erratic responses to unwanted behavior can actually cause the behavior to increase in frequency. For instance, if a youngster consistently throws tantrums in stores, hoping to be given something to end the tantrum, inconsistent parent responses can worsen the situation. If a parent is occasionally determined not to give in, but provides a candy bar or a toy to end the tantrum on other occasions, the youngster learns either to have more tantrums, or to have more dramatic tantrums. The rise in the number or intensity of tantrums occurs because the youngster is trying to increase the number of opportunities to obtain that infrequent parental reward for the behavior.

Planning responses ahead of time to predefined target behaviors by rewarding desired actions and by withdrawing rewards or applying punishment for undesirable behavior is a fundamental principle of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING. Consistent consequences, which are contingent on (in response to) the youngster's behavior, result in behavior change. Moms and dads practice therapeutic ways of responding to their Aspergers child’s behavior in the PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING sessions with the therapist.

Through PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING, parents learn that positive rewards for appropriate behaviors can be offered in a variety of ways. Giving praise, providing extra attention, earning points toward obtaining a reward desired by the youngster, earning stickers or other small indicators of positive behavior, earning additional privileges, hugging (and other affectionate gestures) are all forms of reward. The technical term for the rewarding of desired behavior is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement refers to consequences that cause the desired target behavior to increase.

PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING instructs moms and dads to cancel rewards or give punishments when the Aspergers child behaves in undesirable ways. The removal of rewards usually entails time away from the circumstances and situations in which the youngster can do desired activities or receive attention. The concept of a "time out" is based on this notion of removal of rewards. Time out from rewards customarily means that the youngster is removed from people and stimulation for a certain period of time; it can also include deprivation of privileges.

Punishment in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is not necessarily what parents typically refer to as punishment; it most emphatically is not the use of physical punishment. A punishment in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING involves a response to the youngster's negative behavior by exposing the Aspergers child to something he or she regards as unpleasant. Examples of punishments might include having to redo the correct behavior so many times that it becomes annoying; verbal reproaches; or the military standby—"drop and give me fifty"—having to do pushups or sit-ups or laps around a playing field to the point of discomfort.

The least challenging problems, which have the greatest likelihood of successful change, are tackled first, in hope of giving the family a "success experience." The success experience is a positive reinforcement for the family, increasing the likelihood that they will continue using PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING in efforts to bring about change. In addition, lower-level behavioral problems provide opportunities for moms and dads to become skilled in intervening and to learn consistency in their responses. After the parents have practiced using the skills learned in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING on the less important problems, more severe issues can be tackled.

In addition to face-to-face sessions with the parents, some PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING therapists make frequent telephone calls to the moms and dads between sessions. The purposes of the calls are to remind moms and dads to continue to be consistent in applying the techniques; to answer questions about the work at home; and to praise the parents' attempts to correct the youngster's behavior. In addition, ongoing support in sessions and on the telephone helps parents feel less isolated and thus more likely to continue trying to use learning principles in managing their youngster. Troubleshooting any problems that arise regarding the application of the behavioral techniques is handled over the telephone and in the office sessions.

An additional aspect of learning theory is that rewarding subunits of the ultimately desired behavior can lead to developing more complex new actions. The subunits are finally linked together by changing the ways in which the rewards are given. This process is called "chaining." Sometimes, if the youngster shows no elements of the desired response, then the desired behavior is demonstrated for the Aspergers child and subsequent "near hits" or approximations are rewarded. To refine "close but not quite" into the targeted response, rewards are given in a slightly "pickier" manner. Rewarding successive approximations of the desired behavior is also called "shaping."

Risks—

The best way to learn to alter parental responses to Aspergers child behaviors is with the support and assistance of a behavioral health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker). As noted earlier, moms and dads often inadvertently reinforce the problem behaviors, and it is difficult for a parent to see objectively the ways in which he or she is unintentionally supporting the defiant or difficult behavior. Furthermore, inappropriate application of such behavioral techniques as those used in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING can actually make the problem situation worse. Families should seek therapists with valid credentials, skills, training and experience in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING.

Normal results—

Typically, the parents should notice a decrease in the unwanted behaviors after they implement the techniques learned in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING at home. Of the various therapies used to treat childhood disorders, PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is among those most frequently researched. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING has shown effectiveness in changing Aspergers kid's behavior in very well-designed and rigorous studies. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING has a greater effect on behavior than many other treatments, including family therapy or play therapy.

Furthermore, the results— improved child behavior and reduction or elimination of undesirable behavior— are sustained over the long term. When a group of kids whose families had used PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING were examined one to fourteen years later, they had maintained higher rates of positive behavior and lower levels of problem behavior.

Early Childhood Intervention for Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism

“What are the most important treatment strategies or program goals for treating younger children with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism?”

Although treatment programs may differ in philosophy and emphasis on particular treatment strategies, they share many common goals. There is a growing consensus that important components of effective early childhood intervention for Asperger’s and HFA include the following:
  • entry into treatment as soon as a diagnosis is “seriously considered” rather than deferring until a “definitive” diagnosis is made
  • functional adaptive skills that prepare the youngster for increased responsibility and independence
  • functional, spontaneous communication skills
  • implementation of techniques to apply learned skills to new environments and situations (i.e., generalization) and to maintain functional use of these skills
  • in the educational setting, low student-to-teacher ratio to allow sufficient amounts of one-on-one time and small-group instruction to meet specific individualized goals
  • inclusion of a family component, including parent training
  • incorporation of a high degree of structure (e.g., predictable routine, visual activity schedules, clear physical boundaries to minimize distractions, etc.)
  • ongoing measurement and documentation of the youngster's progress toward educational objectives, resulting in adjustments in programming when needed
  • promotion of opportunities for interaction with “typically developing” peers to the extent that these opportunities are helpful in addressing specified educational goals
  • provision of intensive intervention with active engagement of the youngster at least 25 hours per week, 12 months per year
  • provision of developmentally appropriate educational activities designed to address identified objectives
  • reduction of disruptive or maladaptive behavior by using empirically supported strategies, including functional assessment (see below)
  • social skills (e.g., joint attention, imitation, reciprocal interaction, initiation, self-management, etc.)
  • traditional readiness skills and academic skills as developmentally needed
  • use of assessment-based curricula that address cognitive skills (e.g., symbolic play, perspective taking, etc.)



Applied Behavior Analysis—

One of the most important methods for treating younger children with Asperger’s and HFA is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is a process used to systematically change behavior and to demonstrate that the interventions used are responsible for the observable improvement in behavior. ABA techniques are used to:
  • generalize behaviors to new environments and situations
  • increase and maintain desirable adaptive behaviors
  • narrow the conditions under which maladaptive behaviors occur
  • reduce interfering maladaptive behaviors
  • teach new skills

ABA focuses on the reliable measurement and objective evaluation of observable behavior within relevant settings (e.g., home, school, community, etc.). The effectiveness of ABA in treating children with Asperger’s and HFA has been well documented through five decades of research by using single-subject methodology and in controlled studies of comprehensive early behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings. Kids on the spectrum who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make significant and sustained gains in academic performance, adaptive behavior, IQ, language, and social behavior. Also, outcomes have been significantly better than those of kids in control groups.

Discrete Trial Training—

Comprehensive early intervention programs for kids on the autism spectrum (e.g., Young Autism Project) rely heavily on Discrete Trial Training (DTT) methodology, but this is only one of many techniques used within the field of ABA. DTT methods are useful in establishing learning readiness by teaching foundation skills (e.g., attention, compliance, imitation, discrimination learning, etc.). This methodology has been criticized because (a) there have been problems with generalization of learned behaviors to spontaneous use in natural environments, and (b) the highly structured teaching environment is not representative of natural adult-child interactions. However, traditional ABA techniques have been modified to address these issues. Thus, DTT is still a very useful tool in the therapist’s toolbox.

Functional Behavior Analysis—

Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) is an important aspect of behaviorally-based treatment of unwanted behaviors in children with Asperger’s and HFA. Most problem behaviors serve an adaptive function of some type and are reinforced by their consequences (e.g., attainment of adult attention; attainment of a desired object, activity, or sensation; escape from an undesired situation or demand). FBA is an empirically-based method of gathering information that can be used to maximize the effectiveness of behavioral support interventions. It includes:
  • formulating a clear description of the problem behavior
  • identifying the frequency and intensity of the problem behavior
  • identifying the antecedents, consequences, and other environmental factors that maintain the behavior
  • developing hypotheses that specify the motivating function of the behavior
  • collecting direct observational data to test the hypothesis

FBA also is helpful in identifying antecedents and consequences that are associated with increased frequency of desirable behaviors so that they can be used to evoke new adaptive behaviors.

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

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."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

Click here
to read the full article...

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.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content