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Behavior management is a great tool for kids with autism. With positive reinforcement and a behavior-consequence correlation, they can benefit tremendously from being in an environment that helps them understand what happens before, during, and after an action occurs. Drawing the correlation between behaviors and consequences is one of the most effective ways to manage behavior. The Autism Parenting Magazine writes, “Behavioral management strategies can help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) become more self-aware of their actions, so they gain a better understanding of the wider world.”
There are many widely accepted basic teaching strategies used in behavior management. These five strategies can provide valuable support for children with autism in their home, classroom, and social environments.
Transition Warnings – For individuals with rigid expectations, providing transition warning takes out the guesswork by giving them notice of what is happening next.
Give Choices – all individuals have some need to be in control of events occurring in their lives. Providing choice in learning, activities, or even reinforcement type gives some sense of control over their world.
Visual Schedules – much like transition warnings, visual schedules provide individuals with information regarding what they can expect to occur through an activity, routine, or day. For individuals who do not read, pictures can be just as effective when creating visual schedules.
Environmental Modification – this is huge! Making minor modifications to an individual’s environment can make a world of a difference. Modifications might include turning off lights, moving the location of a desk or table, providing noise canceling headphones, modifying the task or even simplifying instructions for completing the task.
Remain Calm – when all else fails, Remain Calm. When individuals with developmental disabilities are in crisis the last thing they need is for their caregiver to be in crisis. Many crises result from an inability to effectively communicate wants or needs. This is the time for the caregiver to fade instructions/directives and listen. Allow the individual time to calm down and communicate. During this time vocal communication from caregivers is kept to a minimum as the goal of the caregiver should be to “hear the individual”.
Every person is different, whether they have been diagnosed with autism or not. Differentiated instruction is a hallmark of modern learning. There is no one, perfect way to teach a child. Teaching behaviors are different for every child as well. Stimulants, reinforcements, rewards, and other such variables contribute to how a child responds and behaves. Therefore, behavior management looks different for everyone. For instance, a child from one cultural background may respond differently to behavior coaching than another child from a different culture. Cultural norms play a vital role in how behaviors play out in each child’s environment. Practitioners must develop an understanding of the specific background, environment, and culture of everyone they are responsible for.
Celebrating successes, whether large or small, are critical to the overall process of behavior management. As an educator for most of my career, who has now become a practitioner, I have had the pleasure of seeing children thrive in the ABA environment. Whether it’s seeing an individual learn how to communicate more effectively or seeing another individual adapt to social settings, every win is significant!
Simply put…it works! Behavior management and ABA therapy is a winning situation for clients, their families, and caregivers. ABA methods are research-backed and the supportive environment that is provided by ABA therapy is unparalleled. When parents entrust ABA therapy clinics with the care and support their children need, they are positioning their children for real-life success. Behavior management is a larger umbrella term for countless proven strategies that provide individuals on the spectrum the best opportunity to succeed.