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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Behavior in Autism

One of major problems that you will face having a child with Autism is the total lack of control of emotions, thus causing extreme outbursts. Children with Autism often cause themselves physical pain during these outbursts. Banging their head on walls, punching themselves, biting themselves and others. It can be heartbreaking and frustrating to say the least.

When you see your little angel loose all control and start head banging the wall your whole body screams out. You pull the child away and tell them no which only seems to add fuel to the fire. Then they start punching their head, slapping their arms around and sometimes even biting you.

So what do you do?

The main reason, I have found, for such behavior is a lack of communication. The child has no language to tell you that they are frustrated, or angry, or scared, or even hot or cold. So they express their needs and emotions the only way they have available. Physically.

The first step is protection. You need to protect your child from harm. I have seen parents that have gone so far as to staple large pieces of foam on the bottom of their walls to prevent the child from being hurt. A preventative measure. Not the one I chose, but it is one.

There are several choice available and using your own experience and common sense you can no doubt come up with more.

You can buy a helmet for the child to wear. However if the child has sensory issues, (the body senses are over active or under active, also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction or SID) that can prove to not be suitable antigen to the situation.

Find a focal point for the child to gain the child’s attention. A favorite toy, a song, a movie, a picture, anything. Sometimes the most unusual things can work. My daughter used to like the sound of tin foil being crushed.

If you have to put yourself between your child’s head and the wall or their fist, do it! I stopped counting the bruises I got but it was better me then her.

You need to teach your child communication. Not necessarily speech. There are many other ways for a person to communicate. See my earlier post on PECS. Autistic’s sometimes (my daughter included) learn better through visual means then verbal. You can make a series of flash PECS and bind them together in a little flipbook. That book can then be made into a necklace or clip on for the belt. That way the child has it with them.

Put in pictures of common things and feelings. Mommy, daddy, Drink, food, Happy, sad, ect. Show them to your child and say the word, act out the emotion or point to the person. You will have to do this several times a day for many days but they will pick up on it.

Repetition is the key. The more you repeat something the more they will learn it.

There is also Sign Language. This has proven very easy for those with Autism to learn. There is a show called Signing Time. You can purchase it here. It’s an amazing show and my daughters (all of them) learned the basics signs in one sitting. For a child with autism to learn something after being shown just once, is amazing.

Once your child can communicate even the most basic of things, you will start to see a decrease in the outbursts. Experiment and try different things to calm your child during an outburst while you teach them communication.

A child with Autism can learn the same things as any other child, they just learn them differently and more difficultly. For those who still wonder, (we all do) if your child will ever talk. Will they ever hug me? Will they ever laugh and play?


With your help, love, patients and the know how, your child will learn it all and never cease to amaze you in all that they can and will do.

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