How to Discipline a Child With Asperger’s

Overview

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is part of the autism spectrum disorders. A child with AS typically struggles with “challenging” behavioral issues such as delayed or immature social skills, limited self-control of emotions and verbal expression, and obsession with sometimes inappropriate behaviors or topics of conversation. He may also exhibit impaired or underdeveloped organizational and self-help skills, clumsiness in motor coordination and heightened physical sensitivities. Conversely, a child with AS frequently possesses above average intelligence and advanced language skills. Your child with AS usually does not choose to misbehave, but some form of coping mechanism or discipline may become necessary to modify impulsive, chronic behavior issues.

Step 1

Focus on prevention rather than elimination of behavior problems. Identify “trigger” causes and circumstances that contribute to your child’s unacceptable behaviors. Write a list of both positive and negative behaviors, and discuss these with your child. Inform him that both consequences and rewards result from the choices he makes.

Step 2

Develop strategies to handle inevitable “meltdowns” that your child experiences when she becomes overwhelmed. Provide her with a safe, quiet place to regain her composure. Following the episode, teach your child about preferred behaviors, including obedience, attention to her own choices and consequences of her actions.

Step 3

Define acceptable behaviors precisely, as well as unacceptable behaviors. Likewise, describe rewards and consequences, respectively, and then enforce them based on your child’s choices.

Step 4

Remove your child from a negative situation to prevent harm to herself and others. Explain why her behavior was unacceptable. Ask her to repeat your explanation, and then inquire if she understands. If so, move on to describe the alternative acceptable behavior relative to the situation.

Step 5

Stop arguments or inappropriate questions by asking your child to write down his questions or comments; then write your responses. If the child cannot write, engage in role-playing as you take his position and allow him to reply. This usually reveals the reason behind the argument or question, which you can then handle appropriately.

Step 6

Teach your child self-management skills. As he learns to monitor his own behavior, he will acquire greater self-discipline capacities.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be patient with your child.
    Manage your frustration to alleviate frustrations for your child.
    Recognize and reward each effort your child makes.
  • Do not resort to physical punishment or restraint, time-outs or loss of privileges, as these usually escalate the negative behaviors.
    Do not make abrupt changes to your child’s schedule, as children with AS fixate on “sameness” and have difficulty adjusting to changes.

About this Author

K’Lee Banks started writing professionally in 1984 and has two poems published in Poetry.com anthologies. She has written Web content for Study2U, Remilon, ConnectEd and numerous private clients. Banks has a Master of Education degree from American InterContinental University Online, and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in education from Northcentral University. She is also an entrepreneur who makes customized quilts and crafts.