Autism Keys 2: Behaviour
Everyone has heard of or seen the behaviour modification programs, and here is the point of view from a loving mum with Psychology studies in my knowledge set.
Firstly, I don’t think that it’s very fair to remove stims or obsessions. Both of them are coping styles, therefore if these behaviours truly need to go, it’s necessary to change them. It’s extremely necessary to bring in some strong coping styles too, otherwise the child is left having giving up the equivalent of smoking without adequate ways of re-directing their addiction. But ask yourself why you are wanting to change this behaviour. If it’s just for social/judgement reasons, or if it will truly enhance that child’s life.
As a parent, it’s easy to ask yourself what’s important when it comes to teaching, and from my point of view aggression and self-harm, plus safety are top of the list. Keeping in mind that you need to give your child ways of coping without these behaviours too, (as these are their current coping styles). The curbing of aggressive and unsafe behaviour can be VERY helpful to their long term health. It can help them access activities, programs and life-enhancing relationships.
Behaviour modification is something that it’s difficult for a parent to do without help and support, but I mention it here, because it’s really important to seek the help you need with it, and if you have tried it and found it difficult with a small child, it only gets harder as they grow. Unfortunately, it’s really tough stuff to do as a parent. This was the most emotionally harrowing part of raising Taz when he was little. He now defends me from any aggression rather than dishing it out, so it’s quite a change. Often though, I cried with him in the early days.
It’s easy to worry as a parent: “was I too harsh? Did I ask too much?”. The truth is that you will NEVER know the answer. I will say though, that young Chip was more verbal, and I was much gentler with teaching him that aggression wasn’t acceptable, and we are still struggling now, at an age which was a major turning point for Taz. It might simply be because he’s a different child, but I will never know. Maybe ask me in 5 years?
I’m sure there are other things which are especially important to different families too, but once you deal with the big things, there’s room to move into the finer points much more. If your child has no aggression or self-harming issues, then there are so many great things you can now teach them about behaviour, like conversations and helping others.
Once they have a good level of comprehension (and remember, this is NOT dependent on them being verbal), you can explain to them why you are teaching whatever it is you’re teaching them. NOT why it is important to you, but why it is important for them.
Even manners (a MUST in our family) are advantageous in the world. Taz gets to see so many great things simply by asking nicely. Compliance and being able to follow directions can also increase their access to activities.
Trust yourself with spotting what’s most important, as you know your child better than anyone.
Which behavioural issues does your child have that involve aggression?
When are you worried about your child’s safety?
Why do you want to modify a behaviour? And how will it help THEM?
The 7 Autism Keys Program is coming soon!
Through Coloured Shattered Glass is very excited to announce that a new online support program for parents of children on the autism spectrum will be launched early in 2018.
If you would like to be one of the first to find out all the details, please register your interest here.
If you would like to discuss the ideas in this post further, tell your story, or share your experiences, please join us on our Facebook page.
Please be respectful of others at all times. We are all on different journeys.
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