Make Prevention a Priority
Support Relationship-Building and Communication
Perhaps the best way to understand and prevent problem behaviors is to look for ways to connect with the child and build a relationship with them. This is especially important with people who have difficulty communicating. These individuals have difficulty expressing themselves, so they are dependent on others to make it possible for their ideas, thoughts, and feelings to be understood.
Possible tools to enhance the communication of people with limited verbal ability include PECS boards, written language, rapid prompting, and other forms of augmented and alternative communication (AAC). For more information about these visit our Therapy Options page.
In a problem situation, it’s useful to consider the obstacles and problems a child may have and strategize ways to sidestep these difficulties. For example, if a child gets into trouble on the bus ride, assigned seating, a seat mate, or allowing video games may prevent the problem.
Additional preventive strategies:
- Speak positively to the child, and don’t speak about him in front of him. We forget the impact our words can have on someone’s feelings and self-perception.
- Look for sensory offenders – perhaps something is disturbing the child that no one else is noticing.
- Make sure that the person is experiencing enjoyment, fun, and novelty in their daily life.
- Make sure the person has opportunities for social connection and relationship building
- Provide opportunities for movement throughout the day
- Be clear and direct about rules and expectations
- Avoid assessing every event and action, or portion of the day. Knowing they are under scrutiny every moment can be stressful for children.
- Break down tasks into manageable chunks.
- Give the child opportunities to feel successful, and celebrate growth!
Consider Health-Related Issues
If a child is engaging in challenging behaviors, it may be a result of an underlying medical problem occurring in their body. There could be many reasons why the child is in discomfort, such as:
- Dental problems
- Lack of sleep
Your child’s behaviors are a way of letting you know that something is not right. It is good practice to always be aware of and monitor changes in your child’s medical condition.
Mental and Emotional Health
A person with ASD may may be experiencing anxiety, sadness, distress, anger, etc. about something that is occurring in their environment, and simply have difficulty communicating why they are unhappy. Some examples include:
- The person cannot understand others or a situation that is occurring
- The person may be unsure about a situation and doesn’t know what to expect next
- The person may have specific fear they cannot communicate
- The person relies on specific pictures or routines that have been changed or absent
Difficulty in these areas can lead to high levels of anxiety or distress for the individual. This will result in the person exhibiting behaviors to express the stress they are feeling inside.