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#1 of 14 Old 06-25-2012, 05:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am in need of discipline ideas for a 5 1/2 year old child with autism.  I feel like he knows what he is doing, yet he does it anyway.  Things like climbing onto the counters, tearing up paper, etc.  Nothing majorly dangerous, but definitely not behaviors we want him to continue.  We have tried redirecting him and he will obsess over what he is not supposed to do.  If we tell him "no", he repeats it over and over and over and over (such as "no tear up paper") and then still does the behavior.  Any ideas?  Websites/forums to check out?  Books to read?

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#2 of 14 Old 06-25-2012, 06:04 PM
 
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That is a rough one.  Is he in school or seeing a therapist or anything like that that could help with giving you specific suggestion taylored for your son?


 
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#3 of 14 Old 06-25-2012, 07:57 PM
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That sounds like stimming, which is not completely under his control. It's not a matter of discipline.  He is seeking sensory input.  Your best bet is to re-direct him to a different stim that you can tolerate better.  Here's a list of a few books that explain what to do about stimming.  

 

Engaging Autism by Stanley Greenspan

Playing, Laughing and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum by Julia Moor

Communicating Partners by James MacDonald

 

You can also google "cause of stimming" or "how to reduce stimming."  Keep in mind that everyone stims at least a little, so you can never eradicate it.  But you can provide attractive alternatives and more interaction.

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#4 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 05:57 AM
 
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To expand on what Fay said, try to stop looking at the behaviors and start looking for the cause of the behavior.  Sometimes it's hard to be in the middle of pulling your kid off the top of the fridge and figure out what is going on.  Start an ABC Chart.  

 

A = Antecedent - what was going on before the behavior happened (loud noise, bright lights, many people talking, watching a tv show, etc.)

B = Behavior - what his behavior was

C = Consequence - what was the consequence of the behavior and how did he respond to it.

 

If he's stimming (and I agree, it sounds like stim behaviors), then you need to figure out what is triggering the behaviors and head it off at the pass.  If it's watching TV, you may want to end his TV time with Willenbarger Brushing/Joint compression, deep massage, squishes, etc.  Get a copy of "The Sensory Child Has Fun" for great sensory activities that can help reduce stimming behaviors (or redirect them to more appropriate outlets).


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#5 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is much more about trying to stop the behavior first than the stimming afterward. Climbing on the counters, tearing up papers, hitting his brothers, etc are not ok. If we can help those, then the behavior afterward should get better too. The techniques we use for our other kids don't work for him - redirecting, telling him no, etc. We are just at a loss on how to stop the behavior beforehand. I will try to pay more attention to the things that are going on and the ABC chart.

His speech therapist did suggest a "quiet card" (an index sized card with the word "quiet" or "shhh" on it) and it works well for her in private one on one therapy in her office, but not so well in our house with all the other noises, siblings, etc. It didn't work well for him at school either.
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#6 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 04:15 PM
 
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Is he seeing a OT? Those sound like sensory seeking behaviors to me.


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#7 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 04:50 PM
 
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 Are you talking about my son? We're in the same boat right now. He is very high functioning but has minimal language. He totally knows when he is doing something wrong, but typical discipline techniques just don't cut it with him. It doesn't help that his school environment assumed his behavior was due to the ASD diagnosis rather than misbehavior and allowed him to get away with SO much. We've been doing lots of time outs/"think about it" time and trying to stay one step ahead of him so that he doesn't have the opportunity to misbehave (e.g., there is an area of the house where he tends to destroy things, etc., so we just moved the furniture around to make it so he can't reach that area). 

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#8 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 07:24 PM
 
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I used to just pick up my kid and physically remove him from the situation while spouting about or bringing him to something engaging/distracting. Instead of saying no to tearing I would have taken the kid (or the paper) and picked up a train book here or taken him to the bean box or similar thing that was engaging. Chattering as I did it distracted my son a lot at the younger ages (not so much now). Sort of typical redirect on steroids.

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#9 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 08:30 PM
 
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What's wrong with tearing up paper? Why not just make sure he has paper that it is OK to tear up? A bunch of pretty tissue paper rather than a pile of bills to be paid, for example.

 

I think that EACH behavior is it's very own separate issue, and needs to be addressed as such. There isn't an answer to "how do I make my autistic child stop doing stuff."

 

Hitting his brother, for example. What is happening right before the hitting? Is this a communication issue? A sharing issue? (I ended up solving some major sibling issues by getting 2 matching doll strollers when my kids were small.) What's the whole story?

 

But you gotta pick you battles. Torn up paper isn't in the same category as hitting other people.
 

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#10 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 06:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsetdancer View Post

It is much more about trying to stop the behavior first than the stimming afterward. Climbing on the counters, tearing up papers, hitting his brothers, etc are not ok. If we can help those, then the behavior afterward should get better too. The techniques we use for our other kids don't work for him - redirecting, telling him no, etc. We are just at a loss on how to stop the behavior beforehand. I will try to pay more attention to the things that are going on and the ABC chart.
His speech therapist did suggest a "quiet card" (an index sized card with the word "quiet" or "shhh" on it) and it works well for her in private one on one therapy in her office, but not so well in our house with all the other noises, siblings, etc. It didn't work well for him at school either.

 

My ds' first diagnosis was ADHD; his primary diagnosis at school after his recent eval is Autism under IDEA (primarily social skills deficits), and I'm still trying to get a follow-up appointment with his DBP.

 

My ds did those things at that age though climbing counters wasn't as big an issue at that point. One of the first things we did when we moved into our current house when ds was 4yo was to build a play gym so he'd have somewhere to climb. We also put up a "buffet" folding table in our kitchen and had a craft box in the pantry (which later changed to drawer units kept under the table). Ds used to be big into tearing up paper, then later moved onto cutting up paper (particularly into confetti)--the mess drove me batty but messiness was preferable to destructiveness; in hindsight I should have kept a mini-shop vac in the pantry to vacuum up all that paper. Dealing with the hitting took a lot of monitoring and helping him to recognize and express his feelings; he got better at going to the teacher when he was upset instead of hitting and the teacher did her best to preempt situations that might result in hitting and keeping ds from people that liked to push his buttons as much as practical. He started ADHD medication that year which helped his impulsiveness but the behavioral support was just as important.

 

Ds also did better in one-on-one with the ST and did not generalize what he learned there, so is IEP for next year includes some group specific, and classroom work, on social skills.


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#11 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 10:56 AM
 
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My son is 6 and since he was about 3 he has had similar patterns... That come and go, and are different things (tearing up paper, climbing, getting into food, destroying house plants, throwing dirt, etc). I think... there are two approaches that have worked. One is that you just have to keep consistent with reminding them it is not ok. Telling them no is direct but also telling them what you WANT them to do- "keep your feet on the floor", "be gentle", etc... But. it takes forever. so I've learned to... try... to be patient. It seems like they "know" its undesirable and are either being willful or having a compulsion... which I think is my son's issue most often. He always eventually "gets it" and stops the behavior after awhile. And then usually it sticks! It may take him weeks or months for it to sink in but then he stops, and if he does it again and i remind him it's not ok he listens right away. The other thing to do is offer alternatives- compromises- that are appropriate. Tearing up or cutting paper (I used to give my son scrap paper to keep him away from the books), Things to climb on, a sensory table outside with sand or dirt he can throw, and forms of affection or communication that aren't hitting siblings... Indeed many of my son's issues were sensory-based... visual and tactile mainly. Feeding those sensory needs, and constant and consistent reminding/ action/ dicipline should  help. Keep in mind it is somewhat developmentally appropriate- in child development we look at  what children are needing through their actions just the same- If children aren't getting the sorts of activity/ sensory imput/ stimulation/ rest/ attention they are needing, they speak through their actions more often than words. The trick is deciphering it and giving them appropriate subsitutions- "redirection" is not so successful if it is only a distraction and doesnt meet the same need they are seeking to fulfill. (example, getting them to play with a toy or watch a movie when climbing on the counter vs. taking them to a playground and letting them climb on equipment regularly to have that large motor need met).

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#12 of 14 Old 01-26-2014, 06:11 PM
 
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Somebody help me because I'm in same boat and my husband has NO PATIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#13 of 14 Old 02-23-2014, 06:08 PM
 
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My 9 year old is HFA and he was a real handful when he was younger. There seem to be two camps when it comes to how to discipline kids with autism. One is behavioural, and relies heavily on reinforcement/reward and/or mild punishments to encourage "desired" behaviours and discourage undesired ones. The other approach is more developmentally based, using cognitive-behavioural therapy type stuff. There is some reward aspects to this but a lot of it is based on identifying (1) how am I feeling right now or what is going on for me right now (e.g. "I feel like I want to yell at someone"), (2) what is the problem ("that means I'm frustrated"), (3) what can I do to fix this ("I can ask a parent for help" or "I can take a break and come back to this later", etc). I personally did not do any behavioural stuff, partly because I didn't even know my kids were on the spectrum until they were older, and partly because behavioural parenting always seemed ineffective to me in terms of what I felt were the really important lessons (self-awareness, emotional intelligence, etc.). 

 

Someone told me once to assume my child is 2/3 his actual age. This helped a lot with things like tantrums, knocking things over (I had a lamp that my son just could NOT walk past without toppling it over), and pretty much everything else related to discipline. So for example, whatever you did to stop your toddler climbing all over things is the same things you do to stop your autistic 5 year old from doing the same. For us that was a lot of redirection and meeting needs, as so excellently described by Emmeline II. 

 

Setting limits is a good thing, and I highly recommend Dr. Laura Markham's Positive Parenting approach for this. I've read tons of her stuff and nothing I've read will not work with autistic kids, you just have to remember that while it takes a neurotypical child a while to learn such things, it takes a kid with autism much longer as their ability to self-regulate and self-control is poor. That doesn't mean they can't learn, they just take longer to do so. And Dr. Laura's methods are developmentally based, so again consider your child to be about 2/3 in age of their actual age and apply the rules accordingly.

 

Finally, one of the good things about autistic kids is they can get pretty stuck in what "should" be, and you can use this to your advantage. Just as "Mondays are always pizza night" you can inculcate in them such things as "we always brush teeth after our bedtime snack" or "we put our plates away when we are done eating". It's a royal pain in the ass at first, but it doesn't take long before it becomes "the new normal". ;-)

 

Oh, one more final word, lol. There were many behaviours that I thought my son was doing willfully, and while I was never too hard on him for it since I was not into punishment anyways, I did find out later when he was more self-aware and could talk about such things that he didn't like acting that way but found himself unable to "do a course change". I think we do autistic kids a disservice when we try to categorize their behaviours as "willful" versus "they can't help it". As with all children, autistic or not, when we assume they inherently want to Do Right by us, and that all unwanted behaviours are because they lack the wherewithal to change their behaviour, we can tackle the underlying problem and teach them valuable skills they will use for life. Importantly, we show them that we trust them to always do the right thing whenever they can. No matter how obnoxious the behaviour (think tween-aged girl!) when I address it in terms of what is going on beneath the sassy attitude, I am reminded what a kind, sensitive, and loving DD I have. 


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#14 of 14 Old 02-24-2014, 06:43 PM
 
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telling them what you WANT them to do- "keep your feet on the floor", "be gentle", etc...

That works best for me. Also recognizing the need/ desire underlying the behavior and saying "You can't do ....but you may...."

 

The short positively stated command/ redirection to what is appropriate.

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