Discipline and a Scout with Autism - How to do it Effectively
Children with autism need
special strategies to be taught new skills. Here are some researched and
proven techniques to help teach discipline to a child with autism. Read
on to find out more about positive reinforcement, behavorial
assessment, scheduling and more.
Children with autism have a large number of
stereotypical and maladaptive behaviors. Moreover, they are not able to
pick up skills easily and learn through imitation like other children
their age. Thus it is very important to teach and discipline a child
with autism. However, the usual techniques that we use with children may
not be effective. Here are a collection of researched and proven
techniques that are effective to train and teach children with autism.
Scout leaders and caregivers must
develop a positive relationship with the child to be able to teach them,
and help them. This can be done through positive interactions. Positive
interactions refer to building a rapport with the child by engaging the
child in his favorite activities, and responding to the gestures
used by the scout to express his desires. This helps to build
trust - a basis for any intervention.
A behavioral assessment is the
first step to disciplining a child. The child’s behaviors need to
observed and analyzed. We must try to find the cause of the behaviors.
Is it attention seeking, is the child seeking a tangible reward, is
it an escape strategy, or is the task too difficult? For children with
autism, the lack of communication skills can lead to some behavior
problems. Furthermore, sensory issues may be the cause of a lot of
repetitive and stereotypical behaviors.
Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to
teach new behaviors and to increase the occurrence of an adaptive
with autism usually do not appreciate social reinforcers, and instead
prefer activity based reinforcers, or a favorite toy or object. They may
also like to have sensory experiences as reinforcers like a few minutes
with the swing, or holding an item that gives them a tactile sensation. You may need to try out different reinforcers to
find which one works best for a scout with ASD.
Adaptive Behaviors to Replace Non Adaptive Behaviors
One of the best ways of disciplining a child with
autism is to teach them adaptive behaviors that replace non-adaptive
behaviors. For example, if a child bites his hand frequently, give him a
toy that requires both hands to be used. This will occupy him in the
task and stop the biting for a period of time. After a short while,
reinforce this behavior. Similarly, children may show maladaptive
behaviors because they are not able to communicate. A child may throw a
tantrum in the middle of an activity, because he does not know how to
tell you that he wants to stop doing it. Thus, teaching him a way to
indicate that he wants to stop, will avoid such a tantrum in the future.
A lot of children with
autism show maladaptive behaviors because of sensory issues. Too much
light, a cold floor, or the screeching sound of the chalk in the next
room, can all cause huge tantrums. Thus, as much as possible, Scout leaders need to
be sensitive to these issues and adapt the environment to provide a
quiet and calm place for the child to be in.
Children with autism love
structure and routine. A change in the routine can also cause a lot of
maladaptive behaviors. Thus, it is best to have a fixed schedule for scout events and activities and to follow it regularly. If you anticipate a change
in the schedule, prepare the scout with ASD for this change in advance.