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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

I need discipline advice

Posted by on Jun. 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM
  • 15 Replies

This is a new diagnosis and my son is high functioning. He is 11 and tries the same things most 11 year old boys do. I am struggling with how to discipline his behaviors, and how to teach my daughter how to deal with him better. I know education is key, but I am kind of stuck waiting on doctors and referrals. It does not help that his father and I have separated and we (the kids and I) have recently moved far away from where we lived before. I have tried taking away or limiting his activities but that seems to cause even more problems. When he gets into trouble he blames his sister or me. If I take his computer from him, he just obsesses with something else... He shuts down, so I don't think that reasoning with him gets through. He is on a new medication is helping with emotional outbursts, I use the word aggression loosely. He is mean with his words, not usually physical. My daughter is so strong willed and tends to push his buttons. When I can get him on his own I feel like I can get through to him, but too often she will come right back at him, and it escalates again quickly. I am trying to learn more, but it is all so overwhelming......

by on Jun. 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM
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by Bronze Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 12:28 PM
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We are in a similar boat! In our house we are having some improvement with a "token" type system. My son gets warnings for bad behavior. We still use the traffic light even though he is 11. The token system is more for his repetition. Some days no matter what our system is he does not comply. I can see on those days it is going to end with a meltdown but we try. We have learned on those days something else is bothering him. We think it is most important to mean what we say, our kids like concrete/consistency
If a consequence is in order stick to it. We see it thru. We really watch how we interact during thosetimes as our daughter models what we do. I hear myself in what she says. Monitoring how we respond has helped our daughter be more helpful than hurtful toward our son. Hope this helps:)
by Amy on Jun. 21, 2013 at 12:33 PM
4 moms liked this

Have you tried therapy for him so that he can learn how to handle his emotions without having an outburst or saying mean words?  Therapy might also help your daughter with understanding him better.

It also could really help them in dealing with the separation and move.

by Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:16 PM
I have asked for a referral for therapy from pedi Dr but he wants to wait and see what pedi neuro Dr says. Pedi neuro can't see him until August... I feel stuck.
by Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Thank you. Do the tokens come with rewards?
by Bronze Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 3:08 PM
Yes, our token system comes with rewards. I learned that system from this site:) My son starts a day with five quarters (he's soooo into money and shopping). The first time he repeats he is warned. If he repeats again, he has to give up one quarter. At bedtime we review what he has left and put it into his piggy bank. He spends it on the weekends when we run errands. If no money is left, we review it was a tough day but tomorrow will be here soon and he starts with five quarters again. The traffic light is a different model (borrowed it from his school;) Every morning he starts in green. We use a magnet with his picture on it. If rules are broken he is warned, second warning he moves his magnet to yellow. Continued rule violations result in red. Five out of seven days of no "red light time" equals a trip to the dollar tree or walmart. That's what we're trying now. He has a magnetic board in his room where he keeps track of his earned green/yellow light magnets. It's ever changing as his interests/needs change. Gotta be flexible and ready to be creative when days call for it, because they sure do! Every once in awhile I can sense he's amped up and our system goes out the window for that day. Thankfully that doesn't happen regularly. We too struggled with his obsession over what he lost (ex. computer time) and couldn't move on. Other mom's suggestions here taught us to focus on a more strength based approach. My son does seem to take to it better than the loss of something like computer time. But when the situation does call for a loss of something and my son has his meltdown, we see it through without giving in. We have observed these tantrums are less frequent and he is able to process better than he used to, (heeding the warnings the next time). Best of luck :)
by Emma on Jun. 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM
1 mom liked this

Well... I don't know if I have any magic answers, but you aren't alone, and I'm sorry. As an autistic adult who would just move on from one thing that got taken away from me to find something else... can I suggest a different approach?

My son *hates* having to talk to us about his behavior. He's not *allowed* to move on until we've had a conversation about the behavior and what good behavior and words looks like. It sometimes can take hours, but i'm fine with him sitting at the kitchen table until he's ready to talk. He can't avoid it forever if he wants to go do other things. By giving him the choice of *when* he talks, he generally will buckle because it's really boring to sit there and seeing his sister and us having fun often makes him want to join in so he'll say he's ready to talk. 

We talk about what good behavior looks like, why his behavior was wrong, and what he was feeling and thinking in the situation. I want to know the root cause, by getting him to think and talk about the thoughts and feelings, he gets better able to express himself and it practices social problem solving skills. If he starts screaming, talking mean, or getting agitated, I walk away and give him a few minutes to calm down before I come back and try again. I show by example how to handle people acting out and how to problemsolve. I will explain to him why his father and I react the way we do, and have him tell us what he thinks our point is... then either praise him for understanding, or gently correcting his view point so he can understand what we mean and why we do things.

He's old enough that I could get this book for him - it's called "dance of anger" by harriet lerner. Read it yourself and read it with him  - I find it valuable because it really breaks social situations down in a simple fashion and teaches you how to handle situations that would otherwise frustrate you and that you cannot control other people's reactions, or emotions, just you're own... and by changing YOU - you can sometimes change how other people react to *you*. 

I would keep going with what you are doing, but the issue here is more communication and anger management - so those are where you need to come up with ideas to help problem solve and diffuse situations.

I don't have a perfect solution - since we are all different, and what your son can handle may be different than mine. (he's 9) - he HATES sitting at the table and being seperated from us - so this works well for him because eventually, his desire to rejoin becomes higher priority then his desire to act like a jerk and be stubborn about it. I'm fine if he sits there all day if he doesn't want to participate - and he knows it. ;)

by on Jun. 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM
1 mom liked this

Honesly, 123 magic has worked AMAZINGLY with my daughter who is 9. 

by Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Wow! Thanks so much!

by Jen on Jun. 21, 2013 at 5:42 PM
1 mom liked this
I like the book Common Sense Parenting. I treat all the kids the same.
I make sure I only say what I plan to enforce or else I keep my mouth shut.
I pick my battles.
Discipline means teaching.
Keep the rules consistent.
No attention for bad behavior (ie I do not talk long about it, I don't beg or plead, I put my foot down and that's how it goes).
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by Brenda on Jun. 21, 2013 at 9:32 PM
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Sounds a lot like sibling rivalry. My youngest sister knew exactly what buttons to push and I would get extremely upset. That all seems pretty normal to me. But I think once the therapies start your son will learn ways to work through his anger and also find ways to not let his sister bother him so much. I hope things get better momma

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