Last week, one of our readers (Wendy Thornell) asked a question (on our Facebook page) to Autism Spcialist Kathy Fox. The question has to do with discipline. You will find both Wendy’s question and Ms. Fox’s response below. -Craig Gibson (Editor, SensorySpot.com)
“I have a question about discipline. Do you have a favorite style (such as love &logic, magic 1,2,3, etc). I have 5 year old twins with SPD and our toughest challenge is getting them to listen. They are seekers and so everything is such a hu…ge distraction it seems we can never have their full attention. When we’re out and it’s time to go they run (in opposite directions , if there is one thing that is off limits (such as a room when visiting friends or family), they can’t help but focus on that one room. Time outs dont work at all. They can’t sit there. Any other ideas? It’s tough since they’re twins and really feed off each other.” -Wendy Thornell
I find no one style of discipline works for all kids. Both love and logic and magic 1,2,3 have their benefits, but some of our guys need more of a planned response to individual behaviors.
· The first thing I recommend is to try to figure out why it is happening, (they may both have different reasons), are they getting out of something, getting attention, getting a preferred item etc…
o THIS SHOULD THEN BE THE REWARD AT THE END
· Before they have the behavior , you know they are going to have, make sure that they know EXACTLY what your expectation is. Use a visual explanation of what you want them to do and be sure to review it with them several times. (make sure when you are about to implement this, you can divide and conquer or you only practice with one child at a time). Be sure to include a transition cue
o This is an example:
§ “When I count to ten you are going to (while reviewing the visual explanation), walk to the door, hold my hand, and go get in the car. When you get in the car, you can choose a toy for the ride home”
· If your child runs in the wrong direction, MINIMIZE ATTENTION (don’t look or talk to him) and bring him back to the visual explanation.
· Go over it with him again, and then give him another chance to do the right thing.
o Many times our kids practice the wrong thing over and over, so instead we have to practice the right thing.
· You do not move on, nor do they get to continue to play, until they do the right thing. It is also ok to help them to do the right thing by working them through it. Even if you have to do all the work, the reward comes when you get them to the next activity. Lots of praise for getting there and again, minimize attention to the unwanted behavior.
In reference to the boys getting into the room or place that is off limits, it may be confusing for them to be allowed in there sometimes and not others. I might add a large stop sign to the door and when they go near it (because you know they will), have a verbal planned response with immediate removal from the room.
o The stop sign is on the door
o The boys go in
o Remove one, the other or both and use common and consistent language (I like “not a choice”).
o Show them the stop sign and every time they go in, use the same response/language.
o I would certainly practice this when your visitors are not in the house.
You can also use “not a choice” for all behaviors that are unacceptable, this way it can continue to be a consistent response for both boys!
I hope this helps. Thanks for your question!
Kathy Fox (Autism Specialist, The Arc of Chester County, West Chester, PA)
Kathy Fox is a graduate of West Chester University (PA) with an MA level certification in Special Education. She currently works as the Autism Specialist at the Arc of Chester County (West Chester, PA) and has over 25 years of experience working with children, and more recently adults with Autism. Kathy offers trainings to both families and professionals. The trainings for families have been refined to more fully enable parents to learn strategies to support their child with autism in the home and the community.