Managing Challenging Behaviors in Children With Autism
As a parent of a child with autism, managing challenging behaviors can be overwhelming and stressful. It can be difficult to know how to respond in the moment, and it can also be hard to find effective long-term solutions. However, with patience and persistence, it is possible to develop strategies to manage challenging behaviors and help your child thrive. Here are some tips for managing challenging behaviors in children with autism:
Understand the behavior: Before you can effectively manage a behavior, it's important to understand what is causing it. Take note of when the behavior occurs, what triggers it, and what the behavior looks like. This will help you develop an effective plan for managing the behavior.
Develop a behavior plan: Once you understand the behavior, work with your child's therapist to develop a behavior plan. This plan should include strategies for preventing the behavior from occurring, as well as strategies for responding when the behavior does occur. It's important to be consistent with the plan and to follow through with consequences.
Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for encouraging desired behaviors. When your child exhibits a desired behavior, provide positive feedback, such as praise, a high-five, or a small reward. This will help your child learn what behaviors are expected and reinforce those behaviors.
Provide clear expectations: Children with autism often thrive on structure and routine. Providing clear expectations for behavior can help your child feel more secure and know what is expected of them. Use visual aids, such as a picture schedule, to help your child understand what they need to do and when.
Use visual supports: Visual supports can be a helpful tool for managing challenging behaviors. Visual supports can include picture schedules, social stories, and visual reminders of expected behavior. These supports can help your child understand what is expected of them and can reduce anxiety and frustration.
Create a calming environment: Children with autism may be more sensitive to sensory stimuli than other children. Creating a calming environment can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can in turn reduce challenging behaviors. Use calming colors, such as blues and greens, and provide a quiet space for your child to retreat to when needed.
Use calming strategies: When your child is exhibiting a challenging behavior, it can be helpful to use calming strategies to help them regulate their emotions. Calming strategies can include deep breathing, counting, and using a sensory object, such as a fidget toy.
Take care of yourself: Managing challenging behaviors can be stressful and overwhelming. It's important to take care of yourself so that you can better care for your child. Make sure to take time for yourself, whether it's through exercise, a hobby, or spending time with friends and family.
Managing challenging behaviors in children with autism can be a long-term process, but with patience, consistency, and support, it is possible to help your child thrive. Remember to work with your child's therapist, be consistent with strategies, and take care of yourself along the way.
About The Author
Kimberly is an Occupational Therapist with a Master's in Teaching, and is Certified in Special Education. She is also a mom, avid traveler, and marathon runner