WHY? Why is he doing that? What prompted this new behaviour? How should I respond? What am I supposed to do about it?
When working with a child with autism, have you ever felt like you were losing any semblance of control? Do you notice yourself nagging, begging and chasing a child? Are you wondering what you are doing wrong?
I hear you. You want answers. You need solutions.
I have bad news. Clear cut answers don’t exist. Some folks will assume they know the answer. Others will have some valid ideas and notions about the answer. The only person who really knows, is most likely the one with autism – and the chances are that he or she cannot tell you.
Assuming that the new actions do not pose any danger to anyone, you may just try a few things before resorting to the dreaded functional behaviour analysis.
♦ CALM the environment. Do your best to see, hear and feel the sights and sounds around you. Consider exactly where, when and with whom the ‘behaviour’ occurs. Next, do everything in your power to “turn down” the stimulation. It may just shock you to see the response!
♦ Allow quiet spaces: reduce your talking. Most often, when we begin to feel less in control we tend to increase our verbal instructions. Maybe we show the visual schedule and then keep saying what is on it. Perhaps, we catch ourselves explaining more and encouraging more than necessary. Is it possible that our repeated directions border on begging? Refrain from filling in quiet spaces.
♦ Tighten the schedule and add visual support (even if you think it is unnecessary). It IS the Christmas season and routines tend to change frequently. Our kids with autism sense disruption and increased confusion in the school. Their actions often reflect the environment – especially in the afternoon when their own exhaustion inhibits the ability to self -regulate. Remember, this is a neurological response within the brain – NOT a behaviour choice.
There are very few certainties in this world but one thing is sure: children with autism will always keep us on our toes. We may not have precise answers but we can often help ease a rough patch by making some pretty simple adaptations to the environment.
Be patient – with yourself and the student. This too shall pass.
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