Tag Archives: Meltdown

Question?: Schizophrenia In Children

Robert asks…

Could me and my fiance still have children if he has schizophrenia?

Someone told me that because my fiance is schizophrenic we would have any children we had taken off us. He went through a bad patch 3 years ago and got into trouble with the police, he went on to medication and had intense physiatric help. When we got together he became a lot calmer and he hasn’t had an episode since, he has been off medication for awhile now. So would this effect us in the future when we decide to have children?

admin answers:

If there is one parent who is competent at all times, and if the parent with schizophrenia has a meltdown, the other spouse was sure to take care of that child at all times, there is no reason for the state to intervene. The issues come up when the child is neglected or otherwise at risk. Most people with schizophrenia are never violent (that’s substance abuse plus mental illness that can increase violence) so the diagnosis alone would rarely be used to take a child away, and in those cases, that’s probably illegal, but the person with schizophrenia cannot afford a good lawyer.

You know, a one time bad patch with psychosis doesn’t mean a person has schizophrenia. It used to be said that a person would have a nervous breakdown, and it was well known that the person would recover and be fine. Nowadays, everybody assumes if a person got psychosis, that they are mentally ill for life and better take their pills. Not true!

Schizophrenia is not particularly genetic. Maybe a little, but not strongly so.

I hope he is in therapy and learning coping skills and stress reduction, to reduce the risk of further break downs.

Good luck!

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Question?: Autistic Definition

Ken asks…

What is a brief description of autism?

Tomorrow I am going to an organization to help kids with autism do things that they can’t do on their own. I have never done this before, and I don’t know anyone with autism. I don’t understand how the children there will behave, or how they act. I tried looking it up, but the definitions are way to long and confusing. Please don’t be rude to people with autism when answering!

admin answers:

Autism is a neurological developmental disorder. Symptoms include difficulty socializing and communicating, lack of eye contact, delayed speech, difficulty reading people, obsessive interests, need for routine, repetitive behavior, poor motor coordination, and abnormal sensory processing.

The symptoms of autism range from severe to mild. There is a lot of diversity among people with autism. There’s not just one way an autistic person will behave or act; they are all different. The children you’ll work with may become agitated by sudden changes. Some won’t be receptive to you at first, since you’re new. They may have repetitive behaviors like hand-flapping or rocking back and forth. They might go on monologues about topics of interests, or they might talk very little. Some will react negatively or even have a meltdown over certain sounds, foods, or touch. But like I said, all autistic people are different, so don’t expect every child there to act the same.

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Question?: Pdd Symptoms

Chris asks…

Do you have or have you known someone who has Autism?

I have the disorder known as Atypical Autism. The symptoms that I notice the most in myself are that I seem to lack the ability to empathize with others and I am on the negative end of the spectrum when it comes to socializing.

If you have autism, what parts of it effect you the most…
What part of Autism do you find to be the most debilitating..

admin answers:

Atypical autism is another name for PDD-NOS or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. I have high functioning autism, and I am a sophomore in college majoring in microbiology and neurobiology. What effects me the most is reading social cues and sensory sensitivity. I can’t easily detect whether or not a person is being sincere or sarcastic and I have been taken advantage of because of that. I also have extreme sensitivity to sound. I cannot focus if someone is tapping, I process all sounds at once and cannot ignore any of it. It can lead to a meltdown occasionally. For that reason I have accommodations that allow me to take exams in quiet rooms with white noise headphones. I love pressure and use the squeeze machine invented by Temple Grandin a lot. If you haven’t tried it, you have to. It is Ecstasy to feel the squeeze and it calms me down a lot. For some reason my parents didn’t tell me about my autism until I was 16. I wish they would have done so earlier, up until then. I just assumed I was a bad person. Now I use my insight on autism to improve standards at an autistic school I work at part time

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Question?: Autism Signs In 3 Year Olds

Paul asks…

Question for parents with autistic children?

My 3year-old daughter has autism, and right now she is in DD Pre-K for 12 hours a week. She loves school, but I feel like I should be doing more for her (like speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.).

So my question is…what kinds of activities are your autistic children involved in? Thanks so much!

admin answers:

When my daughter was that age, she attended early-intervention pre-K for about 9 hours a week, and had occupational and speech therapy for 1-2 hours per week. Other than that, we just played with her. She loved Barney & Friends and learned a lot from watching that. Plus, because she is such a visual learner, I would sit with her and draw pictures of letters, numbers, etc., and things they represented (A is for apple, draw the A, draw the apple, etc.). I tried to give her opportunities where she could excel, like with colors – she knew them very well and liked them, too, so I would draw rainbows and she would tell me what color to use, when. Or sometimes, for a special treat, we’d mix water with food coloring and then pour the colored water into other jars to make new colors (i.e., red and blue make purple, and so on).

I wish I could say that now (she is 15) my daughter no longer exhibits any signs of autism but that’s not true. She still struggles with language, still attends speech therapy for an hour a week, still has the occasional meltdown, etc. However, I have happy memories of spending that time with her when she was little, and feel fortunate that she is as affectionate with me as she is. I think in the long run, she has taught me more (about things like empathy, patience, and courage) than I ever taught her….

Hope this helps!

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Autism, parenting and feeling judged

I saw a woman at the gym the other day that I really wanted to avoid.

I used to see her a lot when Matthew was small. It seemed she was always there when he was bolting away from me at the grocery store, the swimming pool, the park. She watched me as I tackled Matthew before he wandered into the street, and while I tried to defuse a big bad meltdown. She was always sitting right behind us in church while Matthew flapped and tapped and giggled. Her pale blue eyes followed us everywhere and her frown was constant.

I wove my way around the exercise bikes and ducked behind the magazine rack to avoid the woman, and then ran smack into her in front of the drinking fountain. She was wearing that frown that I remembered well, and her eyes bored into me in such a way that I couldn’t pretend to avert her gaze.

“You look familiar,” she said, cocking her head. No kidding I look familiar. “Did our kids go to school together or something?”

“Maybe,” I countered innocently, “I think we may have seen each other at the pool.”

“Of course!” she said smiling, her frown softening ever so slightly.  ”You had that adorable boy. I remember he had…issues.”

I laughed self consciously and explained that Matthew had autism and that some years had been more challenging than others. I told her that he was 26 now, living and working in this great community for people with disabilities near Santa Cruz called Camphill California.

“I’ll never forget the day he climbed to the top of the batting cage during a little league game,” she said, shuddering, ” he was teetering around and you climbed up like it was nothing and carried him down.”

We burst out laughing and went on to talk about how her children were doing, the ones I never got to know because I was so sure their mother was evil. What a waste! Here was this really nice and compassionate woman who I assumed was judging me when in reality she was just curious. And concerned. Even now when she was laughing with me she was frowning. She was a frowner, not a judger! And who knew why she was a frowner? She may have been coping with “issues” of her own.

As we parted ways, I thought about all of the other people over the years that I had judged–and avoided– because I assumed they were judging me.

I thought back to the day I climbed to the top of the batting cage to retrieve Matthew. And to the day I ran into the surf in Carmel fully clothed to pull him from the surf. And to the day I sprinted down my street in red high heels and a black cocktail dress as Matthew rolled away precariously on a skateboard. We were stare-worthy in those days!

If you are an autism parent, you know what I am talking about. It’s not easy to be on stage during tense moments like these. Still, the next time you think some one is judging you, try taking a step back.

They might actually be admiring you.


Do you have questions? Contact me HERE and I will do my very best to help.



The Marin and North Bay Autism Lecture Series starts Sept. 19. (more about that soon) but CLICK HERE to learn more and register.

The Morgan Autism Center Conference is coming soon, too. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Learning to Wait

Many aggressive and challenging behaviors can stem from a child’s inability to wait. You might wonder why is it so important to teach a child with Autism to wait. The reason why this is such an important skill is because its a pivotal skill, meaning it impacts the success of learning more advanced skills. Children have to wait, because adults have to wait. As a child matures and starts interacting with society they will have to wait in the classroom, at the park, at the grocery store, inside the home, at the airport, etc. If your child or client is regularly engaging in problem behaviors it may be stemming from an issue around waiting.

Here’s a few examples of what difficulty with waiting can look like:

-Whenever the teacher tells the class to line up to go outside, Doug gets very excited. Doug loves playing outside. Doug gets so excited and impatient while waiting in line that he regularly pushes, bumps into, and steps on the feet of children near him in line.

– Iyanna is at the mall with her dad. Iyanna makes the sign “eat” to her dad to signify she is hungry. Her dad tells her they are leaving the mall in 15 minutes, and and she can eat then. Iyanna begins to cry, and a few minutes later bolts away from her dad and runs to the food court where she starts eating leftover food off of tables.

A child who doesn’t know how to wait may become aggressive, defiant, and may eventually have a meltdown. Most people just see the behavior as the problem and try things such as blocking the aggression, telling the child to stop pushing, or putting the child in Time Out for throwing chairs. The problem with that approach is that in all of these situations the behavior was the by-product of a skill deficit. These children did not know how to wait. When put in situations where they didn’t get a desired item or activity “right now” they engaged in problem behaviors. In order to effectively terminate these problem behaviors you have to target the skill deficit, not just the outcome behavior.

Teaching a Child to Wait: ABA Approach-

For a Waiting program you will need activities or objects the child enjoys. You will also need a timer. Before beginning to teach the skill you need to determine the child s current ability to wait appropriately. Appropriate just means the child doesn’t try to reach for or grab at the item they are waiting for, and if the child is verbal they don’t whine or plead for the item. If its an activity, the child doesn’t try to run past you to access the item. If you determine the child can wait about 20 seconds before they grab at the item, set your first target at 10 seconds. You always want to start a little below what the child can currently do to ensure they contact reinforcement. Slowly build up the amount of time using small increments. Select a simple SD. Typically “Wait” is the SD used. Allow the child to access the preferred item for a few seconds. For example, give them a highly preferred doll to play with for a few seconds. Then take the doll away, say “Wait” and set your timer. Place the doll where the child can clearly see it but slightly out of their reach. Once the timer goes off praise the child for waiting and give them the doll back. If the child does not wait appropriately use prompting to get compliance and ignore any inappropriate behaviors, such as crying. Do not provide praise or reinforcement if the child didn’t wait appropriately.

Lastly, be careful about allowing the child to almost touch the item. Many kids like to play the “I’m almost touching it, but not quite” game. If you reinforce or allow the child to put their hand above or close to the item before they are done waiting then over time that behavior will get engrained and will be hard to get rid of. The child should wait to access the item with Quiet Hands.

Visuals can also be a great way to help teach waiting. For children who don’t understand the passage of time using a visual makes time much more tangible and real. What kind of visual you use will depend on the age and cognitive ability of the child. You could use a stoplight sign where red means “wait”, yellow means “almost”, and green means the child can access the item. For an older child try number cards. Flip through the cards starting at number 10 working down to 0. Once you get to 0 give the child your full attention and praise them for good waiting. This gives the child a much more concrete understanding of time rather than you saying “Hold on” over and over. When using visuals always pair language with the visual so you can eventually just use language and fade out the visual.

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Cali Fun in the Not Sun

Team Stimey is having a great time in California, although we have reached super saturation whining levels by one particular small, blond dude. He’s been equal parts awesome though too, especially considering all the together time and forced walking tours we’ve taken.

This next photo was taken before some lady stood directly in front of Quinn’s viewfinder, which caused an epic meltdown, unnoticed by said Worst Lady in the World.

If only they weren’t so raggedy and hooded. This would be our Christmas card.
Thanks to Sam, mini-blogger/photographer in training, we actually have proof that I was on this vacation. That almost never happens. Me! In California! See also, Alex.
We went to a beach today because that was what Quinn wanted to do while on vacation. (Sam wanted to order room service; we did that yesterday.) We drove down the coast a ways to the coldest goddamn beach in the world. We were greeted by 800 seagulls hellbent on stealing our lunch. They were not fucking around, those birds.

We kind of assumed that no one would want to go in the FREEZING ocean, but we were wrong. (It’s like we’re new around here.) Fortunately after they ran into the ocean and got their clothes all wet, we had dry swimsuits for them to change into. We’re a little backwards around here.

Cold schmold. The ocean is fun.
Tomorrow we’re going to a lake to feed…seagulls. I’m sensing a theme for our vacation. Last time we went to this lake to feed seagulls and geese, one of the geese bit Jack on the ass. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow!

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How to Bully Proof Your Child With Autism

Does your child have a bully problem? If not, consider yourself lucky that you don’t have a bully to deal with right now but would you and your child be prepared if one should arrive on his or her doorstep tomorrow?

Bullying is difficult for anyone to deal with, regardless of age. All children are targets for bullying but a child on the autism spectrum is especially vulnerable. Due to the fact that the social part of their brain is wired differently, this type of behavior can be very complicated for a child with Autism to understand and deal with. Therefore, they desperately need our guidance in learning how to label bullying behavior and practice in ways to manage it.

Teaching a child with Autism to cope with bullying behavior is imperative in today’s world. Bullies like to target peers that they consider to be weak or passive. Weakness may be determined by physical size but can also be interpreted as someone who is sensitive by nature, has a quiet personality, or seems needy or isolated. Bullies also enjoy taunting a peer who is easily provoked to tears or triggered into a meltdown.

A bully and his or her target are often lacking in social skills but in different ways. Bullies typically know the basics of social skills but for various reasons choose to ignore them and utilize power and force to develop relationships instead. On the other hand, a child with Autism will use appropriate social skills if taught – it’s not that they are intentionally awkward in a social situation or don’t want to make friends – they just don’t know how in many cases.

How do you prepare your child for the negative social interactions she or he may have to deal with?

Studies show that helping your child develop a sense of self-confidence and a mindfulness of body language can help reduce their possibility of being targeted by a bully. You may be doing a lot already to prepare your child for a possible encounter with a bully without knowing it. I invite you to review the following strategies and see if there are any new ideas you can incorporate into your teaching role as parent.

– Help your child be social: Social skills training and teaching your child how to think socially is imperative. Whatever social skills your child is able to acquire will be helpful. At a minimum, knowing what a healthy friendly relationship is like will be a positive asset to many situations. If a child has an accurate sense of what constitutes a friendship he or she will be able to identify and see bullying for what it is right from the start. The sooner one spots a bully the easier it is to deal with.

– Teach assertiveness: Learning how to be appropriately assertive rather than aggressive or passive is one of the best gifts we can give our children. Bullies are counting on their targets to be passive and will not spend time grooming a child who is likely to speak up for her or himself. Teaching your child the word no and how to say it in various forms and ways is crucial. The non-verbal language for assertiveness is just as important and it involves standing straight, using a firm voice and looking someone in the eye – all of which send powerful messages to bullies.

It is a well-known fact that some children with Autism do not like to make eye contact. Try challenging them to determine the ‘color’ of a person’s eyes when talking to them. This a simple distraction technique for an uncomfortable task that will make them appear confident and self-assured.

– Build confidence: Give specific praise each time your autistic child makes an effort to try a new task. “You climbed the ladder by looking at where to put your feet. That’s the safest way to do it!” This gives your child a detailed picture of what she did which makes it easy to replicate for continued success. Hearing that she is climbing the ladder safely and correctly provides her with a feeling of accomplishment that can carry over into other areas.

– Encourage independence: Children who appear capable are less likely to be targeted by individuals who bully others. Bullies actively search for those who are vulnerable, those who seem helpless. Helping our children become as independent as possible is important and we need to be mindful of the tendency to do too much for our children with special needs because it can lead to learned helplessness. Don’t ever hesitate to help your child learn and master a new task if you think they are ready. The feeling of “I can do it” is powerful and will serve as one more layer of protection from the taunts of a bully.

– Address fears: All children have fears that are caused by a number of different sources. Learning to identify and express their fears is crucial to children’s emotional well-being. It is important to give your child language for his fears and various ways to express them such as speaking, signing, drawing, writing or acting them out depending on their abilities. If your child is being bullied you want to make sure he will have the language and the avenue to tell you what is happening in a safe environment.

– Preparation and practice: Whenever time allows, helping your child prepare for new situations will boost their confidence for the real event. New experiences are often difficult for many children with Autism to approach because of their reliance on routine and resistance to change. The first day at preschool or the transition to a new school, can be a worrisome affair to many young children. Because we often fear what is unknown, the more information and practice opportunities we can present to a child, the better the chances will be for success.

Find a social skills curriculum or a book about bullying that will help you and your child practice what to do in the presence of a bully. Bullies are a Pain in the Brain by Trevor Romain takes a humorous approach to bully-proofing yourself and uses lots of pictures which appeal to visual learners.

Also, remember to take the time to discuss bystander behavior with all of your children. One of the most effective interventions for bullying behavior is the response from those who are witnessing it. Bullies often rely on bystanders to help intimidate their target but it can be just as powerful, and often ends the bullying, when a bystander or two supports the child who is being picked on.

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website http://www.parentcoachingforautism.com/ to get your FREE resources – a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.

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Understanding and Dealing With Angry Behavior in Young Children With Autism

If your child hits, bites, screams, pushes and destroys things and you are at a loss for what to do, don’t dismay. Negative behaviors such as these are learned and they can be unlearned as well.

Keep in mind that misbehavior is simply an expression of an unmet need or an inability to cope with the circumstances in the current environment.

A child’s behavior is always a signal of how he or she feels inside and a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who has trouble communicating can become very frustrated with their environment very quickly. Just picture yourself not being able to communicate your very basic needs to the people who care for you? Close your eyes and visualize trying to tell someone you are very thirsty, or the light is hurting your eyes or the music is too loud and not being able to get them to understand. Wouldn’t you be a candidate for an emotional meltdown if this were what your world was like on a daily basis?

When you think of a child’s misbehavior as a need that is out of balance, your perspective can more easily shift to “my child has a problem instead of my child is being a problem”. Then you can focus on discovering what the issue is and alleviate the potential for inappropriate behavior.

Also, we as adults are able to monitor our emotional state and manage the way we express our feelings but young children do not have these skills and need to be taught. This is where we need to step into our role as teacher – giving our sons and daughters words or pictures for their feelings or providing them with additional means to express them appropriately.

Here are some other strategies that will help you prevent and deal with angry behavior:

Play detective and look for clues in determining underlying unmet needs. The need for attention and control are often the first ones that come to mind. Others might be boundaries, trust, structure, respect, and belonging. For a child with Autism, the unmet need is often the ability to clearly communicate to others what he or she wants. Providing visuals and other alternative means of communication will help keep frustration levels low and therefore avoid the potential for an angry outburst.

Be on the lookout for stress. Acting inappropriately is often an indicator of stress. Bonnie Harris, author of Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids, states that all children want to be successful. Most children want to please and no child deliberately plans to have an outburst. Is something blocking your child from being successful in his play? Is she stressed due to insufficient sleep? Is his sensitivity to noise on overload in a chaotic environment? Has her dislike for transition been set off due to a sudden change in schedule? These and other triggers for stress can often be avoided.

Give your child a feelings vocabulary that goes beyond happy, sad, and mad. Acknowledge your child’s emotions by identifying what you see and giving the feeling a name. “I see an angry boy who wants something he can’t have.” or “You look frustrated with that toy because you can’t get it to work.” or “Are you disappointed because mommy can’t play with you right now?” By labeling what you are observing and naming it, your child is learning what it means to be angry, frustrated or disappointed and the word for it.

Remember to role model. Get in the habit of stating what you are feeling and what you can do about it. Making statements such as, “I am upset because I burnt the toast, I will have to watch the toaster more carefully next time”. “Daddy is frustrated because he lost his book again, can you help him find it?” not only normalizes feelings of all sorts but it also introduces the concept of problem solving.

Make a house rule that has no tolerance for hurtful behaviors. “Being angry is OK but hitting hurts, it is not OK to hit.” Hands are for helping not hurting is also a good statement to use when hitting is involved. Focus on recognizing the times when your child uses his hands appropriately and give him specific praise for doing so. “I like the way you use your hands to pat the dog softly. He likes it too. See how happy it makes him.”

Create a “yes” environment where exploration will be safe and acceptable so you do not have to constantly use the word no. When children hear that term at every turn it can be a very frustrating experience for both of you.

As parents, it is always important to address concerning behaviors such as these as soon as they surface. First, spend time exploring your child’s world from their point of view in order to help you understand what need is not being met. Second, find constructive ways to deal with behavioral issues up front before they become ingrained so they won’t be even more difficult to break later on.

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website http://www.parentcoachingforautism.com/ to get your FREE resources – a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.

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Responding to Difficult Behaviors With a Different Approach to Time Out

All children want to be good and please their caretakers. Young children don’t PLAN to misbehave or fall apart. When a child has an emotional meltdown it signals they are having trouble controlling their emotions, especially when the demands of the environment exceed their current ability to cope. Handling emotional outbursts may seem daunting yet there are many proactive things parents can do to manage and reduce temper tantrums.

When we dissect temper tantrums we often find they result from frustrations that can lead to anger or total loss of control. Anger and frustration are natural emotions, they are neither good nor bad, they simply exist, as do happiness and love. When you enter the world of a child with Autism, you may find that despite some language ability, he or she may have a difficult time making you understand what she or he needs or wants. The other possibility of course is experiencing sensory overload, which needs to be taken into consideration.

Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) desire to become effective communicators and more self-sufficient but they often lack the skills necessary to do so. Even neuro-typical children feel confused, helpless and lost in our adult world at times. As parents we need to teach our children, instructing them to develop appropriate ways to cope and training them to become self-sufficient. Anger management has to be taught, no one is born with it.

There are many tactics experts suggest parents use when they are faced with difficult behaviors:

• Telling children to stop – while communicating what you want them to do instead.

• Teaching the steps for anger management, including identification of feelings.

• Distraction (age appropriate) – humor, passions, hugs, point to schedule, etc

• Ignoring – no encouragement, leaving the room, etc

• De-escalation – using counting, deep breathing, etc

• Using time-out – sending children to their room.

For the annoying and irritating behaviors that children often exhibit I always encourage parents to use the last one, time-out, as a last resort and learn to use it appropriately. Unfortunately, time-out is often overused and therefore ineffective so it is important to decide what behaviors you want to use it for. Sending kids to time-out for all misbehaviors will dilute its effectiveness and may even create resentment in a child – being ostracized to your room while in turmoil does very little to teach any child how to behave better.

I encourage parents to use time-out ONLY for emotional meltdowns and temper tantrums, and I suggest redefining the entire concept. Throw away the word time-out, call it something else and create a different approach. Here are some suggestions for creating and implementing a new and improved, yet successful alternative to using time-out.

If interested in experimenting with a new form of time-out, first take a step back and reflect: What am I using time-out for? What is our goal? Are we using it to correct behavior or to punish or is there something else at play here? Based on your values, it is important to take some time to get clear on the purpose and the outcome you desire. The correct purpose of time-out should be for a child to learn how to calm down and eventually self-soothe.

Young children who misbehave, get angry and upset enough to have a temper tantrum need to learn self-calming skills BUT not in the heat of the moment. No brain – adult or child, typical or neuro-typical – can take in information and act upon it when in the heat of emotional despair or uncontrollable rage. Trying to reason with or scold a child who is in the midst of a temper tantrum is futile. Instead,

– Consider creating a ‘feel better’ place, a safe place that can replace typical time-out. This could be a beanbag in the kitchen, an arm chair in the living room, a corner of the family room OR the child’s bedroom as long as it is not seen as punitive. Identify such a place for everyone in the family and make sure it is customized to each person’s needs, temperaments and personality. When your child shows signs of breaking down, gently guide her to her designated place and provide her with a means to calm down. This could be cuddling with a blanket or stuffed animal, rocking, listening to soft music or whatever else was determined in advance.

– When you feel your temper about to burst, try role modeling the act of taking a break to feel better. If feeling out of sorts or displaying behaviors that indicate stress, frustration and anger are normalized like this and a solution is presented, it will not only minimize and prevent emotional outbursts over time but it will also provide your child with valuable lessons for coping with life.

– Introducing and role-modeling this new approach will take time and young children will need a lot of direct intervention in the beginning. Presenting it well is crucial to making it work. Explain the new routine using clear and specific language that your child understands best (visuals or social stories when necessary) and giving concrete demonstrations will only help to increase its chance of success. Allowing older children to have input into how it might work best for them will also help as well as giving the new process a positive and unique name.

– It is essential to introduce this new tactic at a time when your child is in good spirits. If your child is slow to process information you may even want to discuss it for a while before you actually implement it. Once you do, they will need to be guided firmly yet gently.

– Be consistent and stick to this method for at least four to six months. They say it takes a minimum of twenty-one repetitions or more for new behaviors to be accepted and become habit. If minor tweaks become obvious make adjustments right away making sure you communicate the change clearly.

Yes, all of this will take time but all good outcomes are worth working for and time is what it takes to change behaviors and make them stick. Taking time is what parenting is all about, if we aren’t willing to invest our time and effort, than our parenting will continue to be difficult.

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website http://www.parentcoachingforautism.com/ to get your FREE resources – a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.

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