How do you discipline an autistic child? Nothing seems to work.

Kim - posted on 09/11/2009 ( 34 moms have responded )

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I have a 6 yr old autistic son. And im at wits end with discipline. he laughs at me and thinks its a game. time outs dont work, corners dont work. nothing seems to be working! How can i discipline my son and make him understand that what he's doing is naughty. instead of having him continue to do it for attention.

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Leanna - posted on 02/08/2012

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Time out doesn't work because autistic kids like isolation and spanking doesn't work because of sensory issues. Disciplining autistic kids is a complex and stressful thing to do. How involved is he? Can he talk?

Melissa - posted on 02/08/2012

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My daughter if our and she has Aspergers and mood disorder, disciplining her is very difficult because she will act out violently towards herself. Other times she will just state (very matter of fact) what she will do if you discipline her. Such as if you turn off my t.v. i will slam the door and scream. I've been at my wits end with this with her as well. Alot of the posts here have given me new ideas for working with her. I am also a single mother and the diagnosis is still very new. I don't know how much of what I do will effect her anxiety level to an unhealthy point. And also my 6 year old son has gotten worse because of the leniency I've been given her. Any ideas on that?

Suzanne - posted on 09/17/2009

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my son is 13 year's old, boy it is so hard at times with him but I try. he don't speak but doing great at school. what about how to handle a teenage child with autism. these kids do grow up.

Dana - posted on 09/16/2009

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I don't know if this will help but I have worked with several autistic children of varying degrees.Since disciple is complicated pictures of positive behavior work well. Ex. pictures of toys put away, sitting in his chair at the table, sharing a toy... help define a clear picture of what you expect. Give a clear warning of what you expect followed with a consequence if he does not comply- Ex- Share your train with ______ If you do not share you will have to put your train away...again use pictures if needed. If things are really bad take his toys and other motivating items away and allow him to earn them for short periods of time when he is behaving in a manner that is appropriate. It is extremely imoprtant to remain calm and in control, ignore innappropriate behavior... redirect him only if he is in danger of getting hurt or hurting someone else but do not engage him with conversation or eye contact. This is not an overnight fix..as nothing ever is in the world of autism! It has worked well overall with many of our children. Everyone like knowing they did something well...Praise praise praise. Punishment=attention. He will eventally learn being good=having fun and he will know exactly what you want if you prepare him before each activity and reward him for listening. Put you energy into this and be consistant and you will hopefully see you are spending less and less time having to give consequenses! Good luck. If you try this I would love to know if it works for you.

[deleted account]

Quoting Sabrina:

You said the key word...”attention”. My son was the same way. He craved the attention. Whether it was negative or positive attention... he wanted it. I developed a behavioral chart for him. My son is a visiual learner, so telling him that his behaviors were inappropriate or he wasn't making good choices, wasn't effective. On the behavioral chart I had two emotions...happy face and a sad face. Whenever my son would have his outbursts..we started to ignore him. That was really key. We then put on the chart activities that he would have a hard time transitioning into, such as taking a bath, taking a nap, coming from outside...etc. If I went to the behavioral chart and put a sad face by the activity (if he was having an outburst) he became so fixated on that chart that he stopped the outburst so he could get a smiley face. I had pictures ranging from him at school, dinner time, and his behavior towards us. You may also try doing a social story for him so he can see what's appropriate and what's not. I hope this helps.

Sabrina


This sums up what I was going to say :)



 



Do you have any support? Developmental Pedi? ABA therapist? etc? They should be able to help you with all of this.

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34 Comments

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Esperanza - posted on 02/18/2012

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i have the same problem with my son. he is severe autistic adhd and very aggressive he is 4 but ive learned there is a certain tone in the voice and a certain way you carry yourself that gets different results. sometimes you may have to get very loud to get his attention but you have to use your mommy voice that means buisness we all have one but sometimes it just takes a lil bit to find it. chance still does what he wants and i know i should take things away from him but he doesnt really have a favorite anything and then of course its always so hard to tell how much he understands of what im doing. people tell me with age it will get better altho at 6 well i would think it d be alitte easier. have you tried aba therapy? i have chance in that and in a year its worked so many wonders he still has some bad days but his meltdowns take a lot less time

Karen - posted on 09/17/2009

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have you tried telling him why it is wronge,and what could happen if he carrie's on doing it? eg hiting poeple (they will not like you) allways talk to them! and help him under sand! they do not think like us!! it take's time! hang in their!

Kellyanne - posted on 09/17/2009

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I know exactly how you feel , my 10yrs old hsa aspergers and it so hard when it comes to discipline but what works for me is using the same punishment all the time and he knows know that if he misbehaves its whats coming. I usually make him sit in his room and read till im satisfied his punishment is over. I will also take his xbox away at times too or make him write apology letters too.

Tammy - posted on 09/17/2009

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I took care of an autistic child that was mute and only knew a few signs....so communication was difficult, especially on the level of knowing how to communicate what was bad behavior.
In my working with him for 6 years, I have found that sitting them down, getting them to look at you and while trying to do so, keep a stern look, different from all other looks, they begin to recognize that their behavior is not acceptable. I kept sitting Justin down and gave him a certain look, with a stern voice and a sharp no! I only used this when behavior was bad. He did get it after a bit, but I did reward good behavior with treats and good looks and sounds, and signs. Keep trying.

Susan - posted on 09/16/2009

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It's very hard because our very first response is he has AUTISM, but the truth is he is just a kid. you have to deal with him on his level. A child with autism can understand or not understand. Only you can answer that. If he gets it, then take away what he likes ( only for a short time, maybe 5 or 10 mins.) If he doesn't get it then things get harder. You have to find the best way you can to be on his level and let him see that his behavor has an impact on you as well as him, and others around him.. If you can make him see so he can understand that he might be hurting someone or being unkind. Our children are so different, yet so the same.

GOOD LUCK! Just keep trying.

Claires - posted on 09/16/2009

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I think keeping a calm, not raised, tone of voice helps alot with my son & letting him know before hand what the consequence will be if he doesnt stop an inappropriate behavior, for example if he wont allow a movie 2 play thru i warn him that if he doesnt let it play im putting the movie up. He still gets upset tho. I made him put his bed back together when he "tore it apart" before he could do anything else like watch tv or play games so i dont think he'll do that again.

Zelda - posted on 09/16/2009

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Yes, cut out the sweets and processed foods! Did that with my son, what a difference. Diet has a lot to do with it.

Brandy - posted on 09/16/2009

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hiya new to the board and my first post but this one really caught my attention!
we are going thru the same thing! ben is five and nothing seems to faze him! i have learned that the only way to dicipline him is to take away or put in time out the toys or object causing the problem. also, when he has a melt down i make him leave the room or put him in his room. somewhere quiet where he can have a time out and calm down.
i have given up trying to comfort him when he has a melt down. it dosent work and its getting dangerous. at 5 years old he is about 3'8" tall weights in at about 55 pounds!
and a throwing firt at that size is not fun! i just make sure hes safe. let him have it for a min. then grab hold of him tell him NO and put him out of the room til hes calm.
sometimes i dont think there is a wrong or right way to do anything! and its a whole new ballgame, and a case of finding what works.
they told me to try and find his triggers.. yeah right! where to start!
have found that since ive cut out the junk food and sugars and all enumbers and additives flavors ect. hes calmed down soooooo sooooo much! and a much happier little boy!

Jane - posted on 09/16/2009

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I could threaten to chop his leg off when he is having a meltdowon and he would STILL continue.
I handle the meltdown by being quiet (if i can) calm and ride it out. After,when rational,i will talk it through with my son and discuss the consequences (these had been pre-arranged)and he actually accepts it. He knows when he is in the wrong but the autism doesn`t allow him to handle the violent outbursts.

Candi - posted on 09/15/2009

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my son isnt only autistic he is blind and has cp as well what i find that works with him is dark rooms not letting him get to overwhelmed by doing to much and giving him awards for good behavior that seems to work to cut down on his outburst when he has one i take away his tv his radio computer for 5 minutes also i found once he has no one around him he does alot better my son does laugh but they just need you to keep consistant as well on a schedule that seem to help with my son hope this helps

Connie - posted on 09/15/2009

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I had posted early up on the 13th. I dont remember did you say your son was verbal or nonverbal? I know one of the things we use is a special point and pick chart that has pictures of his favorite things on it and the things he doesnt like, when he and I are in a power struggle he can go and point to what is bothering him or what he is looking for, autistic kids even high functioning ones cant always verbally tell you what it on their minds because its frustrating to them to socialize.

Zelda - posted on 09/15/2009

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My son is now 18, and it took a lot to get here. When he was young, I took his favorite thing. Consistency works, but it's harder on you than him. Do it over and over and over. It may take weeks or even months, but he will eventually figure it out. I never spank. If you hit them, they will learn to hit others. My son is now in College with a scolarship he won for academic excellence, but the road here was hard. He was Aspergers, ADHD and Bi-polar. Things will get better, he is proof of that. Don't give up and don't give in!

April - posted on 09/15/2009

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When my son was 5yrs old I had problems disciplining him. He was fighting in school, hitting other kids when they didn't do what he wanted, and getting very mouthy with me. I enrolled him in Tae-Kwon-Do and it took maybe 2-3 weeks and I saw him do a complete turn around. I was single at the time and found it very helpful to have his "master" be the other authority figure in his life. If he did poorly in school or did something bad to one of his peers, I took him right to his master and they would talk about it. My son seemed to listen to his master better than listening to me! My son now is a black belt and very proud of his accomplishment. He worked very hard for it and he is very well mannered and a pleasure to be around. The self confidence he gained from the classes is amazing. As a single mother it helps to have someone that can kick his butt if he needs it, and its perfectly legal! lol Best of luck with your little guy =)

Rose Ann - posted on 09/14/2009

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i have an autistic son as well. he is 9. he is amazing but when he gets in trouble it hurts his feelings. there has to be something your son is very attached to.. i wait to calm down before i explain why he is punished. i give him lots of hugs and when he is acting up i take him aside and make sure you are at his eye level and have your hands on his shoulders so you know he can hear you. explain there are consequences for his actions and you decide what they are.. good luck

Amy - posted on 09/14/2009

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Try taking away a favorite toy or comfort object and tell him when he can act like a big boy he can have it back. This works with my son also 6 at least some of the time you can also try taking away dessert at dinner. Hope this helps I know how frustrating itr is to discipline kids on the spectrum!

Brooke - posted on 09/14/2009

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Constant eye contact when you are getting on to them helps a whole lot. Also, structure is important so try giving warnings that things are about to shift and then if he/she still doesn't listen try an ignored time-out with the use of a visual egg timer. Also sit them in a controlled enviroment, like their bed or a hiding spot, couches don't work.

Connie - posted on 09/13/2009

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Try the token system. I work in a group home and we use a token system. When he is showing good behavior like every hour or so give him a treat like a piece of candy, when you want his attention ask him if he wants to earn a extra piece of candy or you can even use stickers and make a special sticker book. It is very frustrating dealing with autism and discipline because you really have know idea of what they can comprehend versus what they can not until they are in their teens. My son has high functioning aspergers syndrome as well as ADHD and it has taken me YEARS to understand what makes him tick and what doesnt. keep my fingers crossed for you.

Magen - posted on 09/13/2009

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I would say the biggest key is consistancy. You have to find what works and implement it every time. My son was not diagnosed until he was older so he had what I call "normal kid discipline" for years. After he was diagnosed my husband and I both became more lenient, we noticed that his outbursts and inappropriate behavior worsened. So we had a long discussion and decided that the punishments he was recieving before would be reimplemented. He gets time outs (1min per year of age) for inappropriate behavior. And by time outs he is sat in a place away from everyone and everything. He gets absolutley NO attention when in time out. At the end of his time the person who put him in time out gets him out and explains why he was in time out asking him to repeat and apologize. We tell him very breifly at the begining of time out why he is there but you must keep explinations short and walk away to deny them the attention. Now he also has a reward chart where he can earn $$ for toys he wants that I won't buy. I print pictures of the toys and have them on the chart with their price. Every day he has tasks he must do without a tatntrum and he gets $$. Now these are the things that work for my son they may not work for yours but what ever you find you must stick to. Children are smart and if you are not consistant Autistic or not they will run all over you. So be strong and good luck.

User - posted on 09/12/2009

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You said the key word...”attention”. My son was the same way. He craved the attention. Whether it was negative or positive attention... he wanted it. I developed a behavioral chart for him. My son is a visiual learner, so telling him that his behaviors were inappropriate or he wasn't making good choices, wasn't effective. On the behavioral chart I had two emotions...happy face and a sad face. Whenever my son would have his outbursts..we started to ignore him. That was really key. We then put on the chart activities that he would have a hard time transitioning into, such as taking a bath, taking a nap, coming from outside...etc. If I went to the behavioral chart and put a sad face by the activity (if he was having an outburst) he became so fixated on that chart that he stopped the outburst so he could get a smiley face. I had pictures ranging from him at school, dinner time, and his behavior towards us. You may also try doing a social story for him so he can see what's appropriate and what's not. I hope this helps.



Sabrina

[deleted account]

When this happened with my son, I started putting his favorite things in time out. I'd put a plastic tub on the frig and put a time out sign on it. That's where I would put it if the behavior didn't stop and then set the timer. It still works and my son is 10 y/o now.

Mindy - posted on 09/12/2009

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Yes it is very hard and I thank you all for taking you time out to give me some ideas and helpful tips. I will try my best to try and stay consistent all though it is very hard with me being a single parent. Thanks again for all the help
mindy

[deleted account]

I do the reward system...I have a 9 yr old w/ high functioning asperger's syndrome...this works really great for me. If he wants something really bad (books, games, playdate, whatever works), he has to be on his best behavior and he gets to pick one from his wish list. If he doesn't do as he's told, then we take away his "most" favorite thing to do. Now, you have to tell him the ground rules ahead of time so he understands the consequences of his decisions. For your little one, explain to him that what his brother is doing is not a good thing to copy. It's a hard life to live...I hear and feel for you...good luck!

Mindy - posted on 09/12/2009

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I have tried the things that you have mentioned and they still do not work . Nothing seems to bother him he tells him that he does not care and that he hates me. And the funny thing is when we take away his video game that is his favorite you know he says we are mean and that we are racist lol not that he knows what the word means or anything. I think that he is just trying to hurt our feelings. And the worst part of all is now my little one sees his brother doing all these bad things so now he is doing them also but I want to say 100times worse..
mindy

Tina - posted on 09/12/2009

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You have to encourage good Behavior. Like Candy Miller said. Take away his most favorable Reinforcement. Try doing the first / then card if your child is visual. Unfortunately I was told to try and ignore the bad. It is very hard! But, if you give it attention they will thrive on bad behavior. My son is 41/2 and he is nonvebal. When you tell him No He will hit so we ignore it and when he waits or takes turn we make a big deal and reward him with his favorite reinforcement.

Heather - posted on 09/11/2009

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My son is 9 and we have that problem. I make him hold my hands with me and look at me. I tell him to stop it but, that doesn't work he is in his room. I make him tell me what he did wrong. I had to spank him and the dr. told me don't treat him different than any other kid b/c you don't want to rule him out. I had to spank but, not that much. Just stick with the punishment and don't do something different everytime. Like if he likes to have something sweet or likes going to the park or store with you...take it away and say you don't want to listen this is what happens. It worked for me. Good luck

Mindy - posted on 09/11/2009

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I have tried everything even the stop look and listen nothing seems to work. He is not one to give you any eye contact anyways no matter how many times you tell him my eyes are right here not on the floor. I am just stuck I guess you can say. And let me tell you yelling does not work and neither does getting upset because he seems to think that it is funny or a joke I try to explain to him that on day when he gets older that some of his actions could get him into trouble and he says oh well that he does not care...what do i do?

[deleted account]

have u tried stop look listen its when you make them stop what they are doing make them look at you then explain to him what he is doing wrong if needed make pictures of a stop sigh eyes and ears basically you need to get there attention away from what they are doing then redirect them to some thing better rewards charts are great you can give them a sticker or something and when they reach a certain amout they can get a treat that doesnt have to be expensive it may be an ice cream trip to the pet shop anything

Mindy - posted on 09/11/2009

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I say the same thing to myself all the time i Have a son that has border line asperger's and on top of it he is also ADHD I have found that taking things away from him that he likes works pretty well. All though you have to watch out what you do take away cause the change it could be a little to much for them to handle. My son loves video games and also tv i find if i take away the video game for a day it works. although after explaining it to him 100 times why it was taken away most of the time he still does not understand. I wish you all the luck with you child it is hard but stay strong..

Candy - posted on 09/11/2009

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I had the same problem with my son. I took all of the things he likes away from him when he did something bad so he wouldn't have what he liked. After about three weeks he started to understand he would get his things taken away if he was bad.

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