Parents and teachers of autistic individuals will be glad to learn there are some proven behavior strategies for children with autism. Poor or inappropriate behavior can be especially problematic in this population. Both their behaviors and responses tend to differ from neurotypical children. However, autistic kids can thrive when the adults in their lives know how to address their unique issues. Read on to discover some useful tips.
Related resource: Top 15 Best Online Applied Behavior Analysis Programs
Create a Routine
When they know what to expect, all children will likely exhibit better behavior. Autistic individuals, in particular, seek routine throughout their day. Structure is important to this population. When these children know what is expected of them, their anxiety is reduced. In addition, it’s much easier to transition from one activity to the next.
Make Consequences Meaningful
Consequences are important with any behavioral modification plan. Negative consequences help to extinguish unwanted behaviors, while positive ones reinforce desirable actions. With kids on the autism spectrum, it’s incredibly important that any ramifications for behavior be made clear so that they are understood. These individuals can misinterpret consequences more easily than their neurotypical counterparts, so increased effort must be taken to ensure that the consequence is understood. It should also be meaningful. Sometimes a given punishment may actually be seen as a reward by the child, thus reinforcing unwanted behavior.
The rules and consequences should always be the same for this population. Parents and teachers must be direct when giving directions. Asking questions can confuse the child. Be clear and concise when delivering instructions. Maintaining consistency eliminates ambiguity and helps to reinforce routine.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Milestones shares how positive reinforcement is among the top proven behavior strategies for children with autism. Children love praise. Catching a child behaving in a desirable manner and then providing praise, hugs or other rewards for that behavior is so effective. Adults who work with children on the autism spectrum should always look for opportunities to catch these children being good.
Children enjoy being given choices. It provides them with a sense of control, which is something they frequently find lacking. Autistic kids benefit from limited choices so that they don’t become overwhelmed. Adults should try to provide between two to four options when allowing an autistic child to choose. In addition, some kids on the spectrum will do better when given visual cues such as pictures or actually being able to see the objects from which they have to choose.
Offer a Transition Object
Going from one setting to another can be confusing or upsetting to some kids with autism. Something that has been shown to help is a transition object. This can be a favorite stuffed animal or lucky charm they can hold. Their security object is something they can bring along when going from one class to another or from home to a doctor’s appointment. It makes transitioning feel better.
Re-Direct Unwanted Behavior
Rather than reprimanding a child, it’s best to provide prompting or redirection. Showing a kid how he should sit in his chair is helpful. So is reminding a child not to run in the hall, but to walk instead. Positive messages are always better received than negative ones.
These are just some suggestions for ways to help kids on the spectrum comply with the wishes of adults. These proven behavior strategies for children with autism have been shown to work well in behavioral management.