People with autism are just like everyone else – with wants and needs, joys and frustrations, and a desire to share their thoughts and feelings. Behavior does not occur in a vacuum; what we do and say depends on our environment, perspectives, experiences, personalities, and physical and emotional condition. The extra challenge for people with autism is that there is often a barrier to expressing and understanding those thoughts and feelings. As a result, people with autism sometimes behave in ways that, on the surface, are hard to understand and can make family life more challenging. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good reason for people to behave as they do.
Managing behavior is a two way street. It’s important to understand where a child’s actions and words are coming from, so that we can help them meet their needs and learn to care for themselves. At the same time, it’s our job to encourage our children to respect boundaries and understand that other people also have needs and preferences.
It's helpful to keep in mind that behavior is often a form of communication. This blog post by Judy Endow is an illustration that behaviors can often be misunderstood. Considering the perspective of a person with autism will give families, teachers and caregivers some ideas to help him or her express and meet needs in appropriate ways, manage emotions, and develop self-control. It also helps to know that a person’s behaviors will change as they grow and develop their communication and self-regulation skills.
View the links on the left hand side of this page to learn more about behaviors in individuals who have ASD.