or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Gentle discipline for autistic 2 year old..
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Gentle discipline for autistic 2 year old..

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Problems we're having:


1) Hitting daddy in the face.

2) Kicking during diaper changes.

3) Kicking the window and glass doors.

4) Screaming.


Things we've tried:


1) Ignoring it.

2) Time out.

3) Restraining him.


He just laughs. *sigh* Any insight?

post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 

Really? No one? Is there not a gentle solution for us?

post #3 of 13

Just fair warning. Don't freak out if after 20 views there are no replies. Half the views are probably people who don't even have accounts. You were only on page 3 of "new posts" when i found you.


My advice, (since we're not allowed to view and run ;) ) Would be to say "Ow! Hitting/kicking hurts daddy" "Yelling hurts my ears" etc.  My DS is not autistic so maybe I can't understand. But. That's the best I can do. For diaper changes, distraction with a toy would be my first bet.


And/or, giving positive reinforcement for GOOD behaviour. Most of what you listed was negative reinforcement. When he touches you gently say "Aw. Mommy likes it when you touch softly"

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Sorry, it's just that..while it's not urgent to anyone on here, it is urgent in our house. His behavior is straining my marriage, my sanity and my health. My hair is falling out, I have constant headaches and panic attacks. I just don't know what to do about it...

Thanks for the tips, I'll try positive reinforcement more.

post #5 of 13

My son is not autistic, but he is high needs and extremely high energy, so maybe this will translate over.  He was an insane kicker during diaper changes for the longest time, well past the age when he knew what "no" and "stop" meant.  What I ended up doing with him is either changing him standing up, or *gently* laying my thighs over his feet/ankles while changing his diaper.  My legs provided his legs with enough weight that he couldn't kick me, but I could sort of bend my knees so my full weight wasn't on him, so I knew I wasn't hurting him. Also, if your legs are over his feet and ankles, you can still bend his knees to lift his bum to change the dipe.  That doesn't really help for messy poops, but it will at least help for wet dipes.


I agree saying "hitting hurts" and walking away will eventually help, but it can feel like a long road when you are in the middle of it.  Is he getting enough physical exercise?  My son literally needs to RUN around for HOURS a day or he goes a little nuts.  He needs the physical outlet, or he ends up taking it out on me.  On the days when he is bouncing off the walls,  kicking, hitting, screaming (still at nearly 4) I head straight outside and just run with him.  I get out some balls, his bike, etc and we run off that crazy energy.


I hope you are hanging in there mama.  Do you receive any support?  Does your DS have an official diagnosis?  You might try the Special Needs forum here on MDC too.  Some other mamas of autistic children might have some more insight too.   Hugs to you!

post #6 of 13

Also, do you have any respite?  Downtime?  One of the most important things that you can do to care for your son is to take care of yourself too.  A tired, cranky, stressed out mama is not going to have nearly as much patience as one who has had a few hours to take a bath, read a book, or just take a nap.

post #7 of 13

No problem Micah. Hope the suggestions help. :)

post #8 of 13

Is your son receiving any therapies to help him with his issues?  Is there anything in particular that sets him off?  A lot of autistic kids have severe sensory issues--swinging and twisting helps my autistic son, as well as avoiding overstimulation.  If he got too overstimulated, I'd wrap us in a comforter or blanket, with it over our head to block out the light, snuggle him and hum a simple melody over and over until he could get control of himself.

post #9 of 13

Have you tried over in the Special needs forum? There are a number of parents who hang out there who have children with autism and they might be able to give you some tips that work with your son, and tips for keeping your sanity. Parenting a child who responds differently to you and to his environment is very stressful, and it's hard work. You definitely need time to recoup your energy in order to be able to parent him well.


 Because of this, traditional discipline techniques often don't work as well, or they need much much more repetition to 'stick'. It's not that he can't understand, but his understanding may be delayed, his sensory needs may override his impulse control, and he may well have trouble communicating his needs.


What kinds of therapies/treatments is your son getting? Children with autism often have intense sensory needs, and difficulties with communication. Therapies can help him on this journey.


For your specific issues:



1) Hitting daddy in the face.

Catch him before he hits daddy and gently restrain his hand. Take his hand and say "gentle". You (or more accurately daddy) has to be very very vigilant until he's through this stage. You have to prevent contact so that he learns that he's simply not allowed to hit. It's hard with any 2 year old who's going through this phase. If he continues to hit ,stand up, say "be gentle" and walk away. Because children with autism often have a language delay, I would really really focus on telling him what TO DO rather than what not to do. "Don't hit" is harder to follow than "be gentle".


I'd also provide lots and lots of sensory input to him. The Out of Sync Child has fun has some good ideas, as does Raising a Sensory Smart Child.


2) Kicking during diaper changes.

I agree with a pp -- change standing up, or gently restrain him. I always changed my kids on a changing table would gently lean my body over their legs if they kicked.


3) Kicking the window and glass doors.

Prevent access. Treat him like a younger child. Most parents of children with autism become master baby-proofers precisely because their children take longer to develop control over these impulses. It's harder to baby-proof for an agile 2 year old than a 1 year old, but it can be done.


4) Screaming.

Does he have much language? Screaming is clearly a sign of frustration. If you can work on some sign language with him or a communication system like PECS if he doesn't have language yet, it'll help. Otherwise, earplugs and walking away are about all I can recommend.

post #10 of 13

We think DD(almost 6) is somewhere on the high functioning end of the ASD, or possibly AS, plus we're pretty sure she has mild-moderate SPD, and this is what we do for her.


1.Hitting: I agree with the pp, watch him closely and catch him BEFORE they hit and tell/show him how to use gentle touches. Any act of physical violence equals a immediate time-in here. After, or during time-in I would say " Were you feeling frustrated with your toys and you needed some help so you hit mommy, to get my attention? We don't hit, hitting hurts(act out if necessary). Next time say, mommy I need help with my toy!"


2.Kicking during diaper changes: How old is your child? Is he able to stand, dress self? If he can stand, could you try doing diaper changes standing up? If he can dress himself, or just are very independent? If either of those rings true, could he change his own diaper with assistance, pull-ups may not be a bad idea either. If he can't stand yet, could you give him a toy he's not normally allowed to play with to keep him busy while being changed?


3. Kicking windows and doors: Prevent access when possible. Also, see if may'be he would like to help clean, or may'be even "paint" the window with washable paint? Or he could also draw on it with some of those Crayola bathtub crayons, and then help to clean it.


4. Screaming: This has been a issue here too, I feel for you. How verbal is your child? Does he understand most of what you say to him? I would sit him down and say "Were you feeling frustrated because you need my attention is that why you're yelling? We don't yell, yelling hurts our ears(act it out for him if necessary). Next time say, mommy can you help me...?' And when he does this pay attention immediately, and praise.


Good luck!

post #11 of 13

Hi! I was actually browsing the internet for exactly your question @Micah_Mae_! My son is exactly what you described to a T. He also laughs when you yell or spank him which is makes it hard to discipline because he doesn't take anything seriously, doesnt understand. Did you find out anything that works? I havent yet and we go through "time-outs" five hundred times a day. He'll be 2 in january and so far he is so destructive and aggressive sometimes that we cannot even take him out in public because of the kicking and screaming and hitting- let alone the headache i get from diaper changing time ( in which he kicks and screams. every.single.time.) let me know if anyone has this problem that can help! We have him signed up with every therapist and special needs program and the worst part is- he is nearly never that bad for them so they dont even understand what I'm going through and their advice is par at best:( Help!

post #12 of 13

About the screaming...


I don't have an autistic child, and I'm totally working off things I've heard, so take what I say very lightly...


Isn't it true that autistic kids often hear/see/feel things that most of us don't?  For example, the buzzing of a light, or the tick of a celing fan can be the loudest and most pervasive sound to them.  And it's very annoying, and all of those sounds, etc are very over stimulating.  Is it possible he's less frustrated and is over stimulated?  Can you set up an area for him that is super quiet and calm?  Is it possible that he is stressed out by environment and just one more thing (like the stimulation of changing his diaper) is just too much for him?


I was just thinking that when I have an issue with one of my kids, and no matter what I do it won't go away, if I think really hard I can usually come up with an unmet need in there somewhere.  Their verbal limitations, combined with lack of life experience prevent them from knowing how exactly to express their need, and they keep up with the behavior in spite of everything (or they morph it into something equally a problem) until I figure out how to meet the need.


If you are just not making any progress, maybe looking deeper to fix the cause might eliminate/lessen the problem. 


As far as your marriage...


Dh and I have gone through some incredibly stressful times together.  And they have been very hard, and, at times, nearly breaking.  For us, it is absolutely imperitive that we be on the same page.  We don't have to agree, but we have to agree how we are going to act.  So there are no surprises for me, and no nagging for him.  Like, he hates spending money on the dogs.  He was a farm kid with farm dogs.  Basic needs were taken care of, but that was it.  My dog is my friend, and that costs more...like the 700 surgery he just needed.  Our deal is that he can't stress about dog money or be annoyed that I spend it, but I have to remember that this is my project.  If I can't sustain in time/energy/money my dog hobby, the dog has to go.  So, we don't agree, but have a working relationship with concrete parameters about it.


With your ds, you each need to see you are in the long haul, and to evaluate what your personal needs are.  Does your dh need to know that no matter what kind of day your ds had, you will leave him with a sitter and give your dh your undivided attention one night a week?  Do you need your dh to understand how tired and scared and stressed you are, and that you need him to kick you out of the house with a $10 and make you go to starbucks for 1/2 an hour to recharge, as much as you may resist?  Do you not agree on what to do in the moment?  Do you constantly correct or suggest things to your dh?  Being on the same page prevents that, and there has to be some give and take, and continued conversation.  You need to work to get to a place where it is you and dh vs. autism.  And you and dh and ds vs the world.  Being a team player, instead of against each other, changes everything. 


Hugs, Mama.  I can feel that this must be very, very hard.

post #13 of 13

Does your child have auditory hyper/hypo-sensitivites? Are you receiving OT services yet? If the answer to either of those questions is yes I would ask your OT about having your child do Therapeutic Listening, we're doing it now with our aspie dd who has "really sensitive ears(ie auditory hypersensitivity)". Here's a article about the Therapeutic Listening:



New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Gentle discipline for autistic 2 year old..