How Do I Deal with Autistic Behavior?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a brain disorder and affects each child/adult differently. There are several disabilities that fall underneath the ASD umbrella (Autistic disorder, Asperger’s, Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rhett’s disorder /syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder). It’s that aspect of the disorder that can frustrate parents and other family members while they try to deal with children or adults with autism. Since each child is affected differently, there isn’t a cookie-cutter solution to managing behavior. What compounds the problem is that these children are less likely to be misbehaving intentionally. Their bad behaviors are often triggered by external events that parents and other family members can learn to manage. There are tips that can help understand and manage these behaviors and with the help of doctors and therapists, parents can identify and help a child manage these external stimuli and behave more appropriately.

Each Child Is Different

Since everyone is affected in a different manner, it is extremely important to understand your child. Is your child sensitive to light or sound? Do they need lots of sensory input? Does physical contact or a close approach upset them? Since a child with autism has difficulty processing some of these stimuli, understanding your child is key handling any situation.

Change Environment and Expectations

It is important to create a safe environment for children with autism. What may seem like a benign environment might not actually be safe for your child. If your child likes to climb, shelves become a potential hazard so understanding your child’s specific behaviors is paramount. Also by changing your expectations, frustration levels can be lowered. For example, expecting a child to sit still through an entire meal might be impractical. Starting with a smaller goal of a few minutes and eating with a fork might be more achievable, not to mention can build towards a larger goal.

Identifying Sources of Behavior and Providing Outlets

Those affected by autism either desire or over respond to sensory input and their behavior is their reaction to too much or too little sensory input. By observing and understanding your child, these external stimuli can be identified and either eliminated or modified slightly to avoid difficult moments. If your child craves sensory input, creating a safe constructive environment can fulfill this need. The use of weighted blankets and vast can help a child that requires sensory input or if a child likes to climb, a trip to a rock climbing wall is perfect. If loud noise is an issue, the use of earplugs or other hearing protection can help limit the sensory input and calm the child.

Be Positive and Have Fun

Positive reinforcement is a great way to reward behavior. Every small achievement should be lauded and reinforced. An important aspect of autistic therapy is to do behavioral modifications in a creative and fun environment. Every small step should be a reason for enjoyment.

Dealing with Autistic Adults

Caring for an adult with autism is just as challenging as dealing with a child, but making some adaptations can help increase behavioral outbursts. According to, there are several factors that can lead to behavioral problems.

1) Change in Routine: those affected by autism like to do things by routine and repetition. They enjoy schedules, timing, and organization. Any disruption can cause distress and create the onset of a behavioral episode.

2) Sensory Factors: adults (as well as children) may have a need for sensory stimulation or are oversensitive to some external stimuli. Identifying each individual’s needs and satisfying them can help reduce behavioral outbursts.

3) Social Factors: those affected by autism have trouble with social skills and situations. Many times these situations can be overwhelming and manifest themselves as behavioral problems.

4) Communication Problems: adults with autism have difficulty expressing themselves and with language. This can create frustration which can be a cause of problem behaviors.

These factors can be minimized to help reduce the occurrence of problem behaviors. identifies several different methods for dealing with behavior in autistic adults. Creating structure and routine allows adults with autism to feel safe and comfortable. The use of schedules helps create a routine and any disruption of that schedule should be introduced ahead of time to make sure the person is prepared in advance. Activities for sensory needs can be offered to people to cater to their needs. For example, if a person likes to rock back and forth the use of a swing would be extremely helpful. Problem behaviors can be helped with the use of a positive family environment. This family support can help reduce problem behaviors. Adults who are hypersensitive to sensory experiences can benefit from adapting the environment around them. A dark room or a quiet environment can be beneficial. Lastly, communication training can help adults affected by autism communicate their feelings better. Communication boards or picture cards can help nonverbal autistic adults for some preferred gestures. The important part of any behavioral training is identifying each person’s individual needs and target the therapy accordingly in a supportive and possibly fun environment.


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