There are many resources available providing strategies for parents to help children learn and change their behavior patterns.
Tools to Assist with Behaviour Regulation
As a parent, it is your job to learn ways to help your child regulate his or her behavior. Although many individuals who have ASD lack self-awareness of their behaviors, many will be able to recognize how what they do affects others, and learn to set goals and consider the needs of other people. Community workshops on parenting support are a great way to build up a better understanding of what you can do as a parent.
It’s important to remember that teaching new skills is better done when a child is calm and alert; when they are upset or in the middle of a conflict, it’s better to help them calm down and solve the immediate problem. The issue that created the problem can be discussed and worked through later.
It is also important to maintain your own self-control and stay calm when your child is engaging in challenging behaviors. This is easier said than done, and learning these skills can take time. Parents are influential role models to their children so it is important to be aware of how your own behavior is affecting the situation. If you can be consistent with the way you are speaking and behaving around your child, your child will benefit in the long run.
Self-regulation is an important concept, referring to the ability of an individual to manage his or her own alertness level, emotional state, and actions. You can read more about behavior regulation at The Hanen Centre website by clicking here.
The following are examples of tools can be used to help individuals with ASD to understand and regulate behaviour.
The Incredible 5-Point Scale
The Incredible 5-Point Scale is a tool that can be used by people who have autism, parents and other individuals working with a person who has autism to understand self- regulation. The scale ranges from 1 (low) to 5 (high) and can be adapted to different behaviors, situations, and feelings. Individuals who have autism can use it to be aware of situations that will make them upset or calm. Parents and other individuals working with a person who has autism can use the scale to recognize behaviors that cause the person to lose control or remain calm. Developing the 5-point scale can help everyone understand how to regulate behavior of a person with autism, and understand why a person is behaving in a particular way.
To see an example of a 5-point scale click HERE.
For more information on the Incredible 5-Point Scale, please visit:
Alert Program – How Does Your Engine Run
Similar to the Incredible 5-Point Scale, the Alert Program teaches individuals with ASD how to self-regulate. Parents, teachers, therapists, and other individuals work to teach individuals who have autism how to be aware of their behaviors by using the model of an engine running high, steady or low. The individual will learn behaviors and activities that make their body engine run at different levels. Over time they may be taught to understand what level their engine needs to run at for various activities and how they can get it there (e.g. a steady engine is needed for school work, if the child’s engine is low, they may need to do something, like chew gum, to bring their engine up to a steady level).
For more information on the Alert Program, please visit:
Other strategies include progressive relaxation, role play, social stories, and visualization. Visit the following websites, blogs, Facebook pages and books to gain helpful strategies from other parents and professionals on challenging behaviors.
Facebook Support Groups
- When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Understanding the Challenging Behaviors of Young Children and Students with Disabilities by Kim Davis and Susan Dixon
- Learning to Listen: Positive Approaches and People with Difficult Behavior by Herbert Lovett
- The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry by Lisa Schab
- The Fabric of Autism by Judith Bluestone
- The Sensory Processing Disorder Answer Book by Tara Delaney
- The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents) by Elizabeth Verdick & Elizabeth Reeve
- The Autism Answer Book by William Stillman
- You’re Going to Love This Kid! By Paula Kluth
- The Behavior Code A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students by Jessica Minahan and Nancy Rappaport