Parents aren’t always 100 percent sure if they are doing parenting right that’s why there are countless books, articles, journals and even internet forums on how to parent, discipline and raise children. The workload and stress of parenting an average child is nothing in comparison to a child with autism. It will require more research and a better understanding of the condition and its complexities for the parent to say that they are on the right track. One of the dilemma parents have with regards to their autistic child is disciplining: how to balance being affectionate but at the same time, be firm with your rules and how to properly carry out discipline technique in relative to the child’s condition.
“For the most part, the parents are on the right track with firm boundaries, negative consequences for poor choices, positive rewards, and looking at the motivation behind the behavior. These elements are essential to intentional parenting yet it is not enough. Instead, the small changes sometimes make the biggest impact.” Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC said. But in disciplining a child with autism, the primary focus is not on punishing the naughty behavior but somewhat modifying these actions into something more constructive.
- The discipline techniques should be child-centered.
- Take into consideration their interest, nuisances, behaviors, and reactions.
- Don’t punish the child in the way he expresses himself.
- Extend your patience
- Bear in mind that autistic children have sensory and communication problems
- Remember that the body language of children with autism is different from children without autism. Stimming behavior, no eye contact and not responding doesn’t necessarily follow that they are not listening to what you are saying
- Be positive
- It is harder to encourage good behavior than punishing wrong behaviors. Just stay positive and continue what you are doing
- Work together with your child in identifying which are not acceptable behaviors and present them with more acceptable alternatives.
- Handle meltdowns with caution
- Meltdowns associated with autistic children might be a way for them to express their needs, irritating sensory experiences and handle stress.
- The best way to handle meltdowns is to prevent one. Create a plan to help your child in avoiding meltdowns. For instance, coach them on how to take a break and introduce self-soothing techniques that help them manage their time and emotions.
- Do not shout at your child
- Yelling at your child to control or show authority will further complicated things, and it might make your child more anxious and confused.
- It is vital to use a lower voice with a neutral tone even if you are frustrated or angry. “Getting angry, becoming emotional, crying, laying guilt trips, or even nervously laughing are all inappropriate emotions during discipline.” Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC said.
- During tantrums, it is common for parents to respond immediately. If your patience is thinning, take few seconds to breathe and strategize on to the best approach.
- The child might indulge in self-harming behaviors like head banging against the wall. Take this up with your therapist so that they can teach the child replacement behavior to alleviate the stress.
- Have an established structure and routine.
- Create a specific place for activities. Routines are essential for them to feel safe and secure. By doing so, you can easily narrow down reasons for acting out.
- Utilize picture chart for scheduling
- Picture schedule aid in explaining which activities will be up next. This tool is beneficial for children with autism.
- Keep track of tasks to do by ticking off the finished activities
- Use a clock or egg timer near the activity area to know the time frame for each activity.
- Involve the child in making picture schedules
- Keep the chart where it is easy to view.
“Being diagnosed with Autism does not have not to impact you negatively. People with Autism can live fulfilling and meaningful lives. It is about learning the tools and skills that can help lead to success.” –John Cutrone, LMHC, MCAP, CAS