disciplining my five year who has autism

Carmen - posted on 07/18/2013 ( 1 mom has responded )

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My 5 year old was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. He seems to have so much aggression and he recently started spitting. I put him in time out but that doesn't work. I've even put a little black pepper in his mouth but he seems to like that because he opens his mouth as soon as I pull the pepper out. He's been hitting and pinching me as well. I'm extremely frustrated and I don't know what to do any more. Please give me some suggestions.

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Ariana - posted on 07/18/2013

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Do you have someone working with you who specifically deals in autism? Most areas have people who deal with that, or support groups. You may be able to contact someone about getting into, or starting, a support group for parents with autism.

The problem is you can't tell how much of his aggression is due with him having autism, and what behaviors are simply him being 4. Unfortunately regular techniques may not work. You have to look at why he's hitting/pinching, and what would be a negative consequence for him (or a positive consequence for not hitting).

Is his language development normal? Can you explain certain things to him? Is he frustrated and lashing out? What level on the spectrum of autism he is on would also effect what you would do.

I would continue to do time-outs, or at least time-aways where he is moved away from the situation when he is aggressive, for the safety of yourself and anyone else he may be spitting at.

Are you able to talk to him about what he should do when he is upset instead of spitting etc? Is it due to him being angry? If so you could tell him he needs to say, "I'm mad at you" or whatever else he's feeling. How often does this happen? If he's aggressive all the time maybe you can cut the day down in sections and give him some form of reward when he is NOT aggressive.

So if you find he's aggressive 6 times a day try to break the day up a bit, that way it's not if he does one thing the whole day is ruined. Maybe if he's good in the morning, lunch-time, afternoon and bedtime he gets a special thing he likes, or treat etc. and you can slowly extend the time as he gets better. And if he does spit etc. no special treat/tv privilage.

This depends on whether he is able to understand you enough to connect these ideas. It won't make sense unless he's able to understand it. If he's at a lower emotional level he may need more immediate consequences or to be shown visually how his behavior is effecting what happens.

Like I said though, I would try to speak to someone who can meet with your child and give better information, or start an Autism parents support group in your area where you can get more specific advice catered directly to your son.

Good luck!

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