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Discipline Help for Parents with Children who Have Autism

written by: stacy1172 • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/11/2012

Discipline is not easy for any parent, but parents with children who have autism often have more hurdles to overcome. Learning a few discipline strategies for autistic children can help make the discipline process more productive.

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    Discipline Help for Parents with Children who Have Autism

    Every child with autism is different. The process of disciplining an autistic child will take patience from the parents. You may need to try several different discipline strategies before you find what works best for you and your child.

    Attentive Parenting

    Parents need to pay attention to the habits of their child. This can help you find out what is triggering the behavior that you are trying to stop your autistic child from doing. Keep a notebook or journal on hand so that you can write down things that you notice before the bad behavior begins. This gives you a way to compare each incident and determine if there is a common trigger.

    Discipline Strategies for Autistic Children who have Tantrums

    Some children with autism can be violent. They may try to hurt themselves or others during a tantrum. To help stop any injuries, sit in the floor with the child in your lap. Face them away from you and wrap your arms around the autistic child, so that you can secure their arms. Place your legs on top of theirs in order to keep them from kicking. Be sure to only use enough pressure to keep them from hitting or kicking, too much pressure can hurt the child. While you are holding them, it may help to rock gently and sing or talk to them in a soft soothing voice.

    If the child has tantrums but doesn't try to injure anyone, it may be best to ignore the tantrum. Recognizing the behavior can prolong it, If they don't get any attention from having a tantrum, they will likely stop more quickly because it isn't achieving the goal as they expected it to.

    Verbal Discipline Strategies for Autistic Children

    Parents need to be clear and direct when using verbal discipline. Children with autism may not be able to interpret the tone in your voice, or the unhappy look on your face. Be specific about what they are doing wrong and the consequences of continuing to do it. Be exact and try to avoid giving them more than one consequence. Offering more than one consequence could be overwhelming and cause confusion for the autistic child.

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    Rule Setting Help for Parents with Children who Have Autism

    Sit down with your child and explain the rules and consequences to them. Stay consistent, otherwise you will cause more confusion for the child. If they know that they will get the same punishment each time they break a rule, they will eventually stop doing it. Don't wait to punish them. The consequences need to immediately follow the rule breaking, so that they clearly understand what they are being disciplined for.

    Teacher Involvement in Discipline Strategies for Autistic Children

    Discuss the strategies you are using to discipline the child with their teacher. You will need to work together to keep the consistency of the discipline going whether the autistic child is at school or at home. If your strategies are not working, talk to the teacher about how to discipline the autistic child in the classroom and at home.

    Discipline Help for Parents with Children who Have Autism

    Using these discipline strategies for autistic children can help your child learn to control their behavior. Be patient, this change can take time before you notice any significant difference in their behavior.