Raising and disciplining children is difficult because parents need to find balance in showing affection at the same time being an authority figure. It is quite common for parents and society to give a pass for children with autism. Often, screaming fits and tantrums would generally result to a child in the cozy corner (time-out) or might mean taking his gadget privileges. When these happen in children with autism, it appears to be acceptable and expected behavior. Adults especially parents may give a pass for inappropriate actions out of concern and understanding of the child’s condition; probably, with false beliefs that the child is not capable of better behavior or maybe, thinking that disciplining a child with autism will further complicate the situation. Whatever reasons they may possess, adults need to give structure and discipline to the child with autism. After all, even though they have a condition. In essence, these children are still kids who need direction and support from parents. This has been the emphasis of hopecounselingcenter.net/
Importance of Discipline and Structure
It is universal for children whether with special needs or not to thrive in an environment of discipline and structure. It is frightening for a child if there is lack of adult involvement in the creation of safe, structured and orderly world. The easy route is throwing discipline off the window when dealing with a child with autism. It is also tempting to live in the delusion that a child with autism is not capable of understanding or following the rules while in reality, they can comply with the basic rules of conduct. These rules might be revised or modified depending on the circumstances surrounding the child’s condition. Raising a child without the benefit of structure and discipline will suffer the consequence when he grows up.
“Once you redefine the meaning of discipline as a trait of being well-behaved and a tool to develop self-control, the concept becomes more neutral, and less personal.” –Linda Esposito, LCSW
Myths about Autism and Discipline
A child who cannot talk also cannot understand
People equate verbal communication with intelligence; however, a child with few words under his sleeves is not necessarily incapable of good behavior. In fact, even a child who can’t verbalize has the ability to comprehend and comply with behavioral expectations. Communication can also happen through other means such as sign language, communication board, PECS cards and different methods. Modify your style of communication to be comprehensible to the level of the child. For instance, you might need to use simple terms such as “No hitting” as compared to “Don’t punch your classmates while playing.”
Disciplining a child with special needs is unfair.
It is unjustifiable to punish a child for something he can’t control. An excellent example of this is stimming. Stimming is repetitive physical movements and sounds done as self-stimulatory behavior. These behaviors are typical, and part of being autistic and punishing these acts is unfair. It is, but, only fair to reiterate to the child that deliberate misbehavior is not acceptable. Allowing intentional inappropriate behaviors can create a new set of problems and issues.
“Just because a child has autism, doesn’t mean their life should be limited — it means they might need extra help or adaptations in order to do the same things that others do.” –Janeen Herskovitz, LMHC
Children with Autism Don’t Understand Consequences
Tailor-made consequences for misbehaviors depending on your child’s condition. It might difficult for them to understand the concept of a timeout, but they might understand repercussions when their gadgets are taken away from them as punishment for misbehaviors.
“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