Are Autistic children violent towards other children?
I have a friend who has a son that is 3yrs old with Autism. The other day, while I was visiting their home, my daughter who is 4, was sitting on the floor, just playing with toys. My friend son just comes to her, drives his fingers into her and bit her on her shoulder. For no reason at all! I was so shocked. Then he was looking through a book on his own and started to scream and cry. I go to him while holding my 7 month old, asking him what was wrong. He lashes out to me, trying to hit my face. So I let it alone. After a few seconds he is fine. He will through violent temper tantrums whenever he doesnt get his way or get what he wants. He will sit on the couch and ask for anything he wants, and if you dont get it right away, he will scream and throw things. His mother will keep giving him things so he will stop screaming. Whenever he does do something wrong, his mother will yell at him and he will go to his room screaming, than come back out to her, screaming in her face telling her to say sorry to him. Of course she will say sorry and act like he didnt do anything wrong. I am still learning about autism but I thought autistic children dont throw fits when they dont get there way or what they want right than and there. He has been starting to hit his mother. Bite her and scratch her. He has also start hitting my 4 year old when she is playing and isnt listening to him when he talks to her or wants her attention. Could you please tell me if he is more than autistic. This violence is starting to scare me for the face he attacked my child for no reason and his mother doesnt do anything about it but baby him and gives him what ever he wants.
But if it is just because he is not getting his way, that is likely a human problem and not something to do with his autism... Somehow that child will need to learn as I had to learn better ways of expressing what I want and what I need, as well as handling the fact I don't always get my way... I'm sure his mother giving him whatever things she could to make him stop doesn't help much.
It is harder for children with pervasive disorders to understand the concept that "they cannot have it" - but it can be taught, gradually.....First offer equally reinforcing alternative, once successful, offer less reinforcing alternative, once succesful, offer neutral, and gradually fade out.
Also, it is very possible to teach to wait, making "waiting" period longer......
These things happen in neuro-typical children as well, it is just harder for children with autism to grasp this concept/
Now - yelling is very wrong, especially with child with autism - home needs to be a safe heaven for them
Explain to your daughter the differences and what things may be hard for your friends' son....Find something he likes and ask your daughter to offer the activity. It is very likely they could hit it off:)
His mother, on other hand, would benefit from some workshops on behavior management - her "giving him everything he wants" and not correcting his behaviors will do no good; children with autism do not learn from their environment and have hard time understanding other people's and their own emotions. Most children, with autism or not, would not do well with lack of discipline, they need boundaries.....
Your friend may need more support and understanding on your side as well...
Ignore Matrix's comment about needing a spanking because he is a spoiled brat. He does need a time out. Kids who don't understand things very well, if you spank them, might learn that violence is okay. He might think it's okay to hit. What if another kid does something wrong? he might spank or hit them, thinking well mommy and daddy spank/hit me if i do something wrong.
My daughter started pulling my hair when she's really upset and angry. Basically she's 3, has the emotions of a 3 year old, but the language ability of maybe a 2 year old (I'm guessing about 24 months language ability). She pulls my hair a lot less now, but we've been working on this issue for a year now. It peaked probably just before she turned 3. Her emotions were just way out of control sometimes. I had to talk her through things. Saying "I know you are upset because of XYZ. We do not pull hair." I had to remain calm while talking to her. You raise your voice with children with sensory issues and language issues, they will freak out and their emotions will just escalate further into bad. She does sit on the stairs. Sometimes she will realize she pulled my hair or slapped me and then go sit on the stairs without me having to tell her. I honestly think she couldn't control her urge but then later regretted it. Boys are more physical than girls, so I would imagine a boy who has autism may have more of a tendency to act out aggressively than a girl would. My daughter has not hit another child or adult other than myself or my husband. And now she is getting better. Her language is also starting to develop more. She is understanding emotions when I talk about them, even though she herself can't express them other than to just say one word such as happy or angry. I am sure she would want to say, "I am angry because I really wanted to do that, or have that whatever it is, and I don't know if I'll ever get it back." Or whatever is going on in her mind. Sometimes she can't even get the word angry out. Or maybe she's sad. Or scared. Whatever emotion it is. My daughter's therapist told me that many autistic children with delayed language will show aggressive behavior because that is the only way they know how to express their emotions. What it takes is a lot of therapy and working with the child one on one during the situations, staying calm to get them calm. With my daughter, I know some sensory integration techniques to calm her down when she is angry. Putting your hand on their forehead (if they will allow you to) will calm a child. Compressing their joints (just holding them firmly, not bouncing at all) will calm them. When they are being violent, however, this can be exceedingly difficult and sometimes impossible, so sometimes you just have to wait and make sure they are removed from a situation so they can't hurt others or themselves. My daughter has also recently started biting herself when she's really upset. Probably because she knows she's not supposed to hit me, she ends up hurting herself instead. We are also trying to work on that issue as well.
ANyways, I did not learn a lot of tricks on my own. I had therapists (in the birth to 3 program) help me with this issue. Now that she is in developmental preschool, her therapists and teacher at the preschool are helping me. The teacher comes out to my house once a month to meet with me and go over things. We also have phone conversations and emails as required, though we haven't had many lately. Just as issues arise. I also pay for a therapist privately who comes twice per month to our home. If you send a child to school, the teachers can do wonders, but unless you have someone coming to your house to show the parent what to do, there is no carry over into the home or outside the school environment. Therapists are trained. reading books helps, but really you need someone who is a professional to help. Every child is different, and every child has their own needs and own explanations for why they do things. Therapists can help you figure that out. Sometimes if you end up reading the wrong book, you also might be heading in the wrong direction of what to do. A therapist coudl also recommend what to read. Anyways, I'm really pro therapy/teachers. We parents really can't do it all on our own.
I didn't realize the original post date of the message, and that Matrix was responding (quite rudely) to a message that was 7 months old. Anyway, I hope my response and Natta1980's response are helpful to other parents or if the person who posted is still reading posts...
Children with autism can appear very selfish and mean because they have a concept of what they want and they don't have an understanding that other people may want something different. That is why taking turns and sharing is so difficult for them. If I can only think about what I want and cannot 'imagine' what someone else wants or understand that they think differently to me, then I can only seek to fulfil my own needs and not consider others. However, they have to learn these skills even though they don't come naturally. So always giving in to a child, or always letting them win in games, or never discussing sharing or taking turns etc is detrimental to the child. Even when they throw the most almight tantrum they have to be told 'time out' and not be given into. In the real world they will not get what they want 24/7. And although that may upset them everytime they have to learn that that is what will happen and how they can deal with it.
Yesterday my son had a real tantrum because his father changed the TV channel. My son had watched exactly what he wanted for about 3 hours. Now it is someone else's turn. He didn't like it. He threw a tantrum. He went for time out. He was still upset and angry. He went for more time out. Then he got angry with himself and how he had behaved. Then we discussed about taking turns and sharing. He said we were being mean to him. I told him he was being mean to us if he didn't let us watch what we wanted sometimes. That really upset him. He doesn't want to be mean, but considering other people's feelings or wishes does not come naturally. That is autism.
I can talk to this from the perspective of a mother with an autistic son in his teen years who does still have violent tendencies. My observations over the years have been that autistic children, being that they can be in sort of a "sensory bubble" where they are unmoved by many things and then overly stimulated by others, can sometimes be indifferent to calm everyday things and then be extremely attracted to things that are intense (or even violent). I found it extremely difficult as my son was growing up to completely eliminate violent examples in his life because even in Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast there is an evil antagonist, and my son was unfortunately most impressed with the behavior of the bad guy than anything else. It was kind of interesting that all the therapists would tell me to limit his exposure to violent television and they didn't even realize how impossible that was to do short of banning all television from the house completely, and even then there would be access everywhere outside the home, and all it would take was seeing one show where there was an antagonist and he would be perseverating on it for weeks. It wasn't just the violence that was attractive, but things that were dramatic and shocking. He went through a phase where breaking glass was just fascinating because it was sudden and alarming. He still associates with authority figures better than with children his age because he wants to have the authority to tell everyone else what to do. He thinks of himself as the third parent in my house, and no matter how much he has been discouraged from thinking that way and told that it is not true, in his mind he truly believes he's an adult and can tell anyone his age or younger what to do. When he does become violent, his mind gets caught in a loop, and it is very difficult to get him to consider what is the socially best thing, even though he is capable of being empathic and kind when not seriously agitated about something. His mind responds with high drama always, and that is more the issue than the violence itself. The violence is the way that the strong emotion is conveyed, but essentially the problem is that he does not think in lighter shades of gray, of conveying his displeasure in less dramatic ways. Another important thing I have learned is that it is impossible to get the lesson through to him when he is in a state of agitation. All that can be done is to talk him down and then save the lessons for calmer moments. I have watched him so many times, and it is clear his brain freezes up when he is upset, and he needs to be thinking clearly in order to discuss his emotions effectively, to problem solve and collaborate or come to grips with something he doesn't like. So the brain freeze is a problem because I think he locks up and then can only respond physically to what he's feeling, and that is kind of how he describes it to me too when he loses control. Thankfully we have him on a new medication that really seems to be helping. It's day two now, so it might be too soon to tell, but so far things are looking pretty positive.
My son seems to be obsessed with the idea of 'revenge' at the moment. He is only 7. But anything he is made to do that he doesnt want to do, he appears to think it is okay 'to seek revenge' against the person (usually me) who made him do it. I've got to have a talk with him about it, because this concept of revenge must have come from TV. So far he has blocked the toilet (because I made him go to bed), and has flooded the bathroom (because I said he had to go to school the next day). As you say, you do have to be a bit of a detective about the behaviours, because they are not reacting to information in the same way that other children do.
The power of thoughts and feelings in reaching
children with autism
Ten-year-old Brian was profoundly autistic. As I sat with him, he repetitively twirled a piece of tissue between his fingers, tilted his head to the right, and looked up to the left. It seemed as though he was looking at the tissue that he was twirling with his peripheral vision. No matter what I did, this beautiful little boy did not ever give me even the slightest glance. If I was quiet, he looked past or through me. If I was more vocal and animated, he turned his back and continued twirling. Afterwards, I explored my thoughts and feelings. I was frustrated with Brian’s lack of response. I believed that it meant something about me.
I realized that I needed this little boy to respond so that I could feel good about my time with him and about myself. And I realized that this little boy had enough to deal with, without having the added responsibility of my feelings. That day I made a shift within myself. I decided that I could invite Brian to respond, without needing a response or pushing for one.
In my next session with Brian, I told him that he did not have to look at me – that there was no pressure for him to do so. My words were genuine and heartfelt. Although Brian was non-verbal and it was assumed that he did not understand language, he stopped his twirling and looked at me. That look lasted several seconds. It was, for me, a powerful and transforming experience. Since that time seventeen years ago, I have had this kind of experience repeatedly, and have helped others to become more effective in parenting and teaching children with autism by learning to shape their own thoughts and feelings.
Our attitude, thoughts and feelings are extremely important when we teach or parent a child with autism, often, having a greater impact on our effectiveness than techniques or strategies.
I have had the opportunity to work with children who break glass, smear feces, bite, kick, spit (one boy was so skilled he could hit people consistently in the eye from 2 meters away!), pull their eyes forward out of the socket, etc. Why do children do these things? These behaviors are not caused by autism. Many children with autism do not behave this way, and other children who are not autistic do engage in such extreme behaviors.
The behaviorists teach us that these behaviors are shaped by environment and by reaction, that they are learned behaviors. But if that is true (and I am sure that it is) who is teaching these children to act aggressively or in a self-injurious way? Certainly no parent has ever wanted to teach their child to bite, smear feces or tantrum. The behaviorist model tells us that learning takes place through reinforcers. A reinforcer is like a twenty-dollar bill. It is a kind of payment. Many people do not realize that the reactions that they have to some of their children’s behavior is like giving their child a twenty dollar bill every time they do something particularly outlandish.
There are three classes of reinforcer. The first one is a kind of positive reinforcement, in which the child is getting something they want from the challenging behavior. The following story illustrates this how kind of reinforcer works.
I met Kevin and his father, Joe, when Kevin was twelve. Joe’s primary difficulty with Kevin’s autism was his son’s increasing aggression. In our first session, I observed quietly while Kevin and his father interacted. Joe attempted to lead Kevin into a specially designed playroom, but Kevin refused to go. Joe repeatedly asked Kevin to join him in the playroom so they could have fun together, with no apparent response from Kevin. Suddenly and without warning, Kevin kicked his father as hard as he could. Joe became angry. His whole body stiffened and his jaw thrust forward. He grabbed Kevin by the arm, and Kevin kicked him again. Joe yelled at Kevin to stop and tried to restrain him.
Kevin often hit people, kicked, scratched, bit etc. The best way his father knew to get him to stop was to physically restrain him, or, if all else failed, to hit him. But Kevin’s aggressive behavior was escalating. His father was at his wit’s end.
Over the next few sessions, I focused primarily on Joe’s reactions to Kevin’s violence. Underneath his anger, Joe believed that Kevin’s behavior was a reflection of his own poor parenting. Joe judged himself as an unfit father, and felt ashamed. In expressing and discussing his feelings, he began to change his outlook. Joe came to see that Kevin’s behavior was not a reflection of bad parenting – it was an indication that ‘normal’ parenting was being offered where extraordinary parenting was necessary. Joe came to realize that Kevin was socially motivated, and that he was extremely desirous of personal contact that fit a pattern. Joe began to feel proud that his son wanted contact with him, even if the form of the contact was bizarre. Instead of using these occurrences as times for anger and self-recrimination, Joe now wanted to use Kevin’s violent episodes as opportunities to find the extraordinary within himself. Instead of focusing on how to stop Kevin, Joe wanted to help Kevin learn to interact gently. Excited about his this shift in perspective, Joe was ready to try again.
Joe went into the playroom while I observed. Kevin followed Joe into the room, walked up to him and kicked him hard in the leg. Joe looked at Kevin and talked to him in a soft voice. He said "Kevin, no matter what you do, I am not going to hit you. I have learned about that and I am never going to hit you again." Kevin appeared more agitated and went to kick his dad again. Joe moved his leg out of the way and repeated his statement "Kevin, no matter what you do, I will not hit you." Kevin began to cry softly. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He appeared sad and lost. He said "Dad, I’m supposed to kick you and then you’re supposed to hit me. That’s the way we do it."
For Kevin, the violent interaction had become a ritual. It was consistent and predictable. It gave order to his otherwise chaotic and disorganized interactions and provided him with attention from another person. Often, people with autism would like some kind of attention, but they have no clear idea how to get it, how to control it, or what to do with it once they have it. Joe had unintentionally played a part in positively reinforcing Kevin’s behavior, by giving Kevin the reaction that Kevin wanted when Kevin kicked him.
After years of escalating violence, Kevin began a period of intense swings from generally compliant and engaged, to occasionally very violent. Joe saw the violent incidents as tests and succeeded at not becoming reactive. Within several weeks, Kevin’s behavior became consistently gentle. Because Joe was genuine and consistent, it was easier for Kevin to see that the change was real, that the old way no longer worked, and that he could find new, gentler patterns of interaction.
A second class of reinforcer is negative reinforcement. The payment involves taking away something that the person does not want. It’s like saying " I will pay you by pulling that splinter out of your finger".
Todd was nine when I first saw him. He was playing serenely by himself in the playroom. He had just opened his favorite dinosaur book, when his mother, Fran, entered the room to interact with him. Fran was enthusiastic, vocal, excited about the book, and dramatic in showing Todd that she was getting her own book to read. He exploded in a tantrum. He threw his head back and screamed. He fell on the floor and began to thrash around. It was painful for Fran to feel that she had caused her own child so much distress. Her voice became very quiet. She softly apologized. She became slow and soft in her movements. She made herself unobtrusive and easy to ignore. Todd went back to his reading.
To me, this looked like a form of communication. "Don’t bug me, I’m reading." And it worked perfectly to Todd’s advantage. If anyone intruded on his reverie in any way, he had learned to tantrum and appear extremely distressed. When the "intruder" became uncomfortable and withdrew, Todd was being reinforced for his tantruming behavior.
In subsequent sessions, Fran looked at the belief that she was causing her son great distress. She realized that the tantruming was a way for him to tell her that he preferred to be left alone. She had become accustomed to leaving him alone almost all the time, due to fear of his tantrums. In a sense, she was making it easier for him to remain encapsulated. Fran came to see that, even if Todd was distressed by interaction, it did not benefit him if she diminished her presence in his life. In order to help her son, it was necessary for her to assist him in going through his difficulties and getting over them.
It helped Fran to observe. At one point, I was playing with Todd in a very animated way. He threw his head back and screamed. I threw my head back and laughed. (It is important to note that I was not laughing at Todd, and that if there had been anything mocking or insensitive about my attitude, my laughing would have been totally counterproductive.) Todd immediately stopped screaming and looked at me. I paused for a moment, beamed my appreciation of his attentiveness, and then threw my head back and laughed again. This time, Todd laughed too. Many people with autism are more socially aware than we suspect. When they notice that their action is not producing the desired effect on a new person, after a little testing, they often stop performing that action with the new person. After my first session with him, Todd laughed every time he saw me.
In the weeks that followed, Fran felt freer to encourage Todd to interact. When Todd appeared distressed, his behavior no longer had the same effect on her, because she no longer held the same beliefs about it. She became a mother whose love took the form of helping her child develop strength where there was once weakness. Todd’s level of interaction and self-confidence increased.
The two forms of reinforcer described so far are social. The third class of reinforcer is more internal. It has to do with the person’s attempt to balance or soothe themselves, using their own sensations and biochemistry. This process takes place within the person. For example, we have all learned that the body can produce a natural equivalent of morphine (endorphins) in a variety of situations. That is an example of the third class of reinforcer.
Any one or all three types of reinforcers in combination could be contributing to the learning and continuation of a certain challenging or extreme behavior.
For seventeen years, I have used attitudinal training to help parents, teachers and caregivers become more comfortable with the challenging behaviors of their children and students with autism. When caregivers learn to change their thoughts and feelings about challenging behaviors, both the frequency and the intensity of the incidents are almost immediately diminished. This attitudinal approach is not magic; it makes perfect sense in very mechanical and behaviorist terms. Why?
When we are uncomfortable, we behave differently. Changes occur in our voices, coloring, movements and breathing. Our words and choices of actions are different. When we are uncomfortable, we are more likely to react in ways that reinforce the very behavior we want to change in the child. If someone is doing something that we might interpret as hurtful or frightening, as in Kevin’s case, we are more likely to restrain, yell, hit, or behave in a way that could be a reinforcer for that behavior. If we think we are distressing someone and we are uncomfortable about it, as in Todd’s case, we are more likely to become like wallpaper, or behave in other ways that would tend to strongly reinforce that behavior. In fact, these reactions become a predictable language and ritual of discomfort. When parents become more comfortable with the very behaviors that they found so disturbing, they tend to act in ways that are less reinforcing of the challenging behavior.
Parents and teachers sometimes have thoughts and feelings that are indirectly expressed in their interactions with their children and which result in difficulties. If a father needs his daughter to perform so that he can feel good about his teaching ability, he may create feelings of pressure, which the child will sense and resist. If a mother pities her son, she will be more likely to cushion and protect him rather than challenge him and help him get past his difficulties. If a teacher doesn’t believe deeply in a child’s capacity to grow and change, she will not teach effectively. If the teacher is bored, passionless, and going through the motions, the child will be disengaged. If a parent is busy thinking "Why me?" and "What did I do wrong?" the parent will be self-absorbed and not fully engaged with their child.
The answer to this dilemma is attitudinal training. Attitudinal training has two aspects. The first aspect is to help the parent or teacher, by observation and self-exploration, identify the thoughts and feelings that can get in the way. The second aspect is to help the adult find a way to change those thoughts and feelings. Attitudinal training enables parents and teachers to function with greater comfort. If they are unperturbed by various behaviors, the children learn that there are no social / magical outcomes that come from self-injury, violence, etc. Learned behaviors that can be the source of so many difficulties will not be inadvertently taught. While behaviorists employ a number of excellent strategies to deal with these challenging behaviors once they have been learned, these strategies would be less necessary if the challenging behaviors are not reinforced with intense reactions in the first place.
If we learn how to use the influence of our attitudes effectively, we can also become much more capable of motivating and inspiring children with autism to develop self-confidence, communication and social skills. Using this approach, the primary job is not to teach a particular subject or skill but to teach a love of that subject or skill. For example, if I am working with a non-verbal child, I want to teach a love for making sounds and an utter delight in what happens when sounds are made. How do you teach a love for and delight in something? Love and delight for something is the same as motivation and drive. Motivation is an attitudinal phenomenon. To teach attitude, we must learn the language of attitude.
When we are not perturbed by violence, distress, or lack of interaction, we can be delighted by gentle touch, affection, eye contact, vocalizations, and every form of interaction, no matter how apparently small or insignificant. When we genuinely delight in these things, we tend to act, to vocalize, to move and to respond in ways that are incredibly reinforcing. Not only are our actions reinforcing, but we also become more charismatic to the child. This is important with children with autism. They are identified as having autism because of their difficulties in socializing and communicating with people. When we become more compelling and engaging, the child focuses on us more. As a result, they exercise and strengthen the "muscles" of relationship. Their social skills improve.
Sarah was three when she came for sessions. She was nonverbal. She babbled, but never imitated the sounds of others and never spoke words. Sarah had a great love in her life: Cheerios, the cereal shaped like little O’s. I watched Sarah sit on a stool by the wall. A bowl of Cheerios was across the room on a high shelf, out of her vision and out of her reach. Sarah was babbling and disengaged. She had no eye contact with her teacher. In the middle of her random sounds, she made a sound that was vaguely like the "O" sound. The sound was really not clear at all. The teacher looked suddenly surprised. He smiled and said "O’s?" Then he got up in a comedic manner; he ran to the shelf, grabbed some O’s, ran back and jammed them into Sarah’s hand – repeatedly saying "O’s!"
Usually, if Sarah was given O’s, they went right to her mouth. But this time, she looked at them, and then looked up and off to the right. Very quietly, almost inaudibly, Sarah said "O’s". With a laugh, the teacher repeated "O’s" and ran again to the shelf, grabbed more O’s, ran back and put them into Sarah’s hand. Sarah smiled and loudly said "O’s!" and the teacher ran for more. This time, before he could get back to Sarah, she yelled "O’s" again and he turned so fast toward the cereal that he fell. Sarah laughed. The teacher got up quickly, grabbed the O’s, ran back to her and again Sarah yelled before he got to her. This was the start of an incredible game in which Sarah periodically called out "O’s" and, no matter what was happening, the teacher ran to the bowl and brought back the cereal. One of the most striking and beautiful aspects of this activity was the look on Sarah’s face. Usually, her expression was neutral. While she was playing this game, her smile beamed from ear to ear. Sarah was not just making a sound for a particular event. She was delighting in the power of her sound.
Notice the attitude of Sarah’s teacher. When he began the session and Sarah was very disengaged, he was not thinking, " This is going to be tough. She’s not responding to me. I am not doing so well." Instead, he was thinking, "This is perfect. This is the way that we begin. Even if she is unaware of me, I am aware of and enjoying her. Everything that she says and does, speaks to me whether she intends it or not." Whether it was a sound or the slightest movement the teacher was ready to respond with delight as though it was a direct communication from Sarah to him.
Some people reading this will be struck by the similarity with behaviorist principles. (Later we told Sarah to "say ‘O’" and when she complied, we again reacted.) With pure behaviorism, the focus is on behavior and there is not such a high degree of awareness of the feelings and thoughts of the teacher and the teacher’s level of enthusiasm and delight. If there were more focus on the behavioral dynamics and less focus on the attitudinal dynamics, the reinforcer would have been the Cheerios. But it wasn’t. Often, Sarah did not even eat the Cheerios that she obtained in this way. The main event and, in behaviorist terms, the reinforcer for Sarah, was the pleasure she derived from using a sound to move a person. The key words here are pleasure and person. When I train parents and teachers, we don’t wait for the person with autism to enjoy the interpersonal activity. Our intention is to create within us a heightened enjoyment of the activity or interaction, and then to look for a way to draw the child into that enjoyment.
I have focused here on the attitudinal aspect of work with people with autism. But I am not suggesting that it is only "heart" that counts rather than educational techniques, nor am I suggesting that success is inevitable if our hearts are in the right place and we have mastered our thoughts and feelings. Technical skill and adherence to purely scientific assessment and teaching strategies, with little or no focus on underlying feelings and attitudes, may produce students who "go through the motions" but who are less emotionally alive. But a purely attitudinal approach which fails to incorporate educational skill, strategy and assessment tends to result in happier, more emotionally expressive, more interactive students who "plateau" in their learning at a point where appropriate use of more scientific assessment and educational methods could provide a most necessary benefit.
The most powerful approach to working with children with autism is a marriage of skill and feeling, science and faith, technique and heart. As parents and educators, we can rise to the challenge of raising and teaching children with autism by strengthening both our own hearts and our own minds. We can strengthen our hearts by helping each other to be more aware of our underlying thoughts and feelings, supporting each other in changing the thoughts and feelings that are counter-productive, and engendering in ourselves the love and delight that awakens love and delight in our children. We can strengthen our minds by teaching ourselves the educational techniques and behavioral principles that science and research are substantiating. When we combine these things within ourselves, we become more than the sum of the parts. We become the parents and educators that are best suited to help our children become more complete, more powerful, and more able to achieve their own potential.
Working with autistic children is not for the faint hearted. Many people feel sympathetic toward autistic children and want to help them. But working with them, no matter how successful you are is not for the weak! I have been working with autistic children for 24 years. You have to be extremely patient to be able to stand the abuse that autistic children put out. You have to talk quietly and softly and have an iron clad discipline regime to make sure that the autistic children know you are serious. You cannot hit them, yell at them but you can control their environment. That is the key to working with autistic children. They have to know that you have the keys that open the closet where their favorite toy is, or their favorite snack or you have the cord that makes the tv work. It has to be a quiet control. They get the picture but you have to be so strong willed and quiet about it. They will not respond to reason but they will respond when they know that they will be rewarded for treating you well and for doing the chores, work, learning lessons that you want them to do. It is not ok for autistic children to be rude to their parents and caregivers. Autistic children can learn to say " I am sorry" they may not mean it, most normal people don't really mean it either, but hearing an autistic child say " I am sorry" or learn to point to a picture that says " I am sorry" is an important step for an autistic child. Autistic children need to learn how to get along well with their caregivers. They need to know that hitting and kicking is not ok. They need discipline! They do not need to be allowed to kick and hit and spit and throw things at you. They need to learn that to get a favorite game, they will need to ask nicely. To me this is probably the most important thing for any child to learn. When they grow up and go out in the world, if any child has learned that throwing a tantrum and screaming at the top of their lungs is what makes adults give in- it is going to be a huge problem for them.
i know a child 4 yrs old with autism out of no where he will punch another child in the face and almost break his nose the mom will say say sorry and with in half an hour he is kicking and punching in the face so saying sorry doesnt work what should this mom do?
My friend has a son that is 6 and autistic, although he is very functional, I do notice when he plays with my 4 yr old son he tends to be very aggressive. While swimming he was holding down my son in the water, we had to tell him to stop. Im afraid to go over and play date anymore with concerns that his aggression is elevating. Do I tell his mom this? Or just not go over to play anymore without explanation?
Thank you, so much, for sharing your experiences. It has given me some hope. My son is 3yo and no diagnosis yet but Im pretty sure it will be something along these lines. I cant deny it or make excuses for him any more to 'normalise' his behaviour. Just started at a speech therapist (speech delay) and next I think will be a paediatrician. I am an exhausted woman, bruised and scratched, wondering how I will continue to cope. This is a nightmare...but....I do have a little hope now..so...thank you xo
I'm exactly the same. My son is 3, no diagnostic yet but i'll be very surprised if autism isn't the case. I'm starting to worry for my 16month old as my eldest is starting to get very violent with his younger brother and could really do some damage. What do I do?
Something I have to tell you about spanking a child with Autism it does not work. Some children have do not feel pain and the spanking does not work. There are times when they can not control their emotions and they lash out. This is where you are able to use words and a very harsh tone to get their attention. I am a mother of a Autistic daughter, so educate yourself before you say these things
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