Children with autism are less likely to misbehave intentionally than typically developing children of the same age. Their apparent bad behaviors are more likely to be related to circumstances that can be resolved by remaining calm and adjusting the environment.
Know your child. While many children with ASD have difficult behavior, few behave badly intentionally. What’s going on? Each child with autism is different. Knowing your child can help you determine if the behavior is a result of specific sensitivities that he/she exhibits. The more you know about your child’s sensory concerns the better you will be at anticipating problem settings and situations.
Modify your expectations. As you consider your child’s skills and abilities, be sure your expectations are within his/her abilities. Asking a child who needs movement to sit still through a program or presentation is likely to result in problem behavior. Adjust your expectations so that you child is able to be compliant.
Modify the environment. Safety is a key consideration and children with autism often have little regard for their own well-being. It is important that precautions be established to help your child function safely in the environment. For some children this may mean bolting shelves to the wall or installing locks on doors that are out of your child’s reach.
Think about the possible causes of behavior. When your child with autism is over-sensitive or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli, poor behavior may relate to his/her attempts to satisfy the sensory needs.
Eliminate over-whelming sensory input. By simply avoiding problem situations you can avoid the behaviors you want to avoid. If you know your child is sensitive to loud sounds and responds to louds situations by trying to run away, it makes sense to avoid situations that will be loud. If you are unable to avoid the situation, provide your child with head phones to reduce the noise. Always allow your child the opportunity to tell you when they are done with a situation and need to go home.
Provide the opportunity for sensory input. Allowing your child time to do sensory tasks can help them control their behavior. If your child has a need for sensory input, giving him/her the opportunity to punch a pillow, jump up and down, wrap up in a blanket or any other sensory activity they prefer can provide your child with the opportunity to calm.
Enjoy your child’s successes. As with other children, your child with autism has specific skills and abilities that are unique. Celebrate the times when his/her unique skills provide the opportunity for him/her to shine. For a child who has been non-verbal to utter the first word, this is a reason to cheer!
Don’t worry about other’s opinions. You know your child better than anyone else. While opinions may be shared by someone who claims to have your best interests at heart, remember what you know about your child. You are likely working with professionals who are providing therapies and instruction to your child. Listen to what they have to say and let the other opinions fall on deaf ears.
Remember to take time to enjoy favored activities with your child. It will create priceless memories for both of you.