8 Steps to Setting Consequences for Kids with AutismThe Autism Site
Parenting is always a balancing act, but raising a child with autism has its own unique set of challenges. One common problem is learning to set boundaries and create appropriate consequences for your children. Kids with autism respond to consequences and punishment differently than neurotypical children, so your average parenting guide isn’t much help. Here are steps you can take to develop a plan that teaches appropriate behavior while still creating a positive, encouraging environment for your child.
8. Consider What Your Child Is Telling You
Children with autism often struggle with identifying and communicating their feelings, so acting out may be their only way to tell you that something is bothering them. While it is still important to teach your child to handle those feelings in appropriate ways, you may be able to help identify and fix the underlying problem.
7. Look For Patterns
Some children may act out somewhat randomly, but often there is a consistent trigger or timing for the behavior. Discovering these triggers can help you develop a plan to minimize disruption while you work with your child on more appropriate responses. It can also help you figure out if your discipline plan is working. It can help to keep a log or diary of every incident, since it’s easy to forget small details or minor outbursts.
6. Tailor the Consequences To the Child
An important thing to consider when raising a child with autism is that many punishments that work for neurotypical kids can actually be either neutral or a reward for someone on the spectrum. For example, sending your child to his room instead of spending time with the family or grounding him so he can’t see his friends may not be a big deal to a kid who prefers to spend most of his time alone.
5. Make Consequences Relevant and Immediate
Children with autism sometimes have more trouble understanding cause and effect than neurotypical children, and they also often struggle with short attention spans. Relevant, immediate consequences are important for any child, but those tendencies make it even more important for children on the spectrum. It’s also important to keep things reasonably short so that the infraction is still fresh in your child’s mind when the punishment is over.
Keep reading for more tips on how to consciously ensure that your feedback is something your child can understand and predict!