Autism is no excuse for fighting, but it does influence how parents should deal with fighting children. A mixture of standard discipline practices and autism-specific misbehavior reduction practices will go far in helping you reduce your children’s tendency to fight. In the long run, it might behoove you to consult a psychologist regarding repeated acts of violence between autistic children.
Discipline normally. For a moment, put aside the fact that the children are autistic and discipline the children just as you would with non-autistic children. Choose an effective form of discipline, such as the removal of privileges related to the action that ignited the fighting. For example, if the two children began fighting over a video game, remove their video game privileges for a certain time period. Remember: The fact that you are dealing with autistic children does not give them leeway in acting violently.
Employ relaxation techniques to alleviate the tension between the children. Most autistic children have habits or activities that grasp their full attention, calming them. Use such a method to calm the children down. Playing relaxing music, turning off the lights and or removing them from stimulating environments are all possible actions. According to the Georgia Department of Education, relaxation techniques are important because violence seen in autistic children often stems from feelings of stress or anxiety, not intentions to harm others; this fact makes relaxation an effective method of curtailing more violence.
Prepare for future incidents. Arrange your children’s play environment in a way that will reduce the occurrence of future fighting. For example, if you find that the children are more likely to fight in a loud environment, turn down the television volume or music. Also be ready for when fighting does occur; have rooms ready with which to separate the children. According to autism expert Jocelyn Taylor, author of the guide “Challenging Behavior and Autism,” because much of the misbehavior seen in autistic children reoccurs, parents should focus on preparing for the behavior in addition to working on reducing the behavior.
Consult a psychologist specializing in autism. Ask for an evaluation of your children and whether their conditions are severe enough to warrant training. Some autistic children benefit from training courses aimed at improving social interaction. If your children are consistently fighting, a specialized training might be necessary to curtail fighting in the long-term.
- How to live with Autism and Asperger Syndrome; Chris Williams and Barry Wright
- Georgia Department of Education: 17 Tips for Teaching High Functioning People with Autism
- Challenging Behavior and Autism; Jocelyn Taylor
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