When dealing with a child with autism, discipline does not necessarily refer to punishing the child especially because of behaviours the child is not on control of. Discipline in this context refers to guiding the child, solving problems and learning in an effort to teach the child to behave appropriately. For children suffering from autism, Positive behaviour intervention systems (PBIS) are the ideal way to discipline them.
Discipline strategies for children with ASD
Children like to be praised and to be rewarded when they do something good. Children with autism also benefit from rewards and praises for outstanding behaviour. Most children with autism spectrum disorder respond to praise, but there is a small percentage which is not responsive to praise. Children who seem to withdraw from other people might not be very motivated to do something for other people, thus praise and rewards may not be the best way to discipline such a child.
A child with ASD can be taught to respond to praise by using something that links the positive words to what the child likes doing. The child eventually learns to enjoy the praise on its own.
A child with autism can also be disciplined through implementation of rules and consequences for rules that are not followed. You can also have positive responses to act as a reward for good behaviour and negative consequences for bad behaviour. Consequences are a great way to back up rules that have been put in place.
It is advisable to balance the consequences for good behaviour and those for bad behaviour at a 6 to 1 ratio. It is best to use praise and rewards to alter the way the child behaves than to inflict punishment. Giving positive remarks to a child with autism six times for every bad consequence is recommended as a way to discipline children with autism.
Behaviour for Children with Autism
For children suffering from autism, traditional mode of discipline may not be ideal. This is because these children are not able to understand the implications of their actions, which means that punishing a child with autism only makes the behaviour worse.
When dealing with a child with autism, it is important to focus on the positive. This means that instead of punishing the child for bad behaviour, find ways to praise the child and use positive language to encourage the child. You should also make an effort to find out why the child is behaving badly to be in a better position to address the behavioural change.
Children with ASD normally show obsessive and repetitive characteristics. This can have big consequences on the general behaviour of the child. Make a point to find out why the child is obsessing over something and keep a behaviour diary to stay on track. You can also have some boundaries and rules to govern how much time the child can talk about the obsession. You can also use the motivation to reward and motivate the child. It is important to teach your child the importance of social interaction so that they understand that other people do not share their obsession.
Behaviour in Public
Children with autism get overwhelmed very quickly. Something as easy as a trip to the grocery store makes them anxious and at times very loud. In order to deal with a child with autism behaviour and public places, you can choose to completely avoid public places or you can employ a few strategies to help deal with the situation.
Headphones are a good way to shut out sounds that may be confusing to a child with autism. You can also prepare a timetable for the trip with a shopping list to complete. This helps in keeping the child informed about what to expect and how long till the shopping trip is finished. You can also give visual symbols to the child to help them complete tasks (such as being in-charge of purchasing oranges and mangos) you assign to the child during the trip.
It is important to remember that consistency is key when disciplining a child with autism. Ensure that all the people who are involved in the child’s life use similar strategies for discipline and when dealing with behavioural change.