AVOIDING THE TRIGGERS
Behavior Analysis has proven to be an effective intervention
for many challenging
behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Avoiding
the 'triggers' of behaviors is concentrating on the antecedent part
of the ABC model:
• Antecedent (what happens before a behavior)
• Behavior (the child's response to this trigger)
• Consquence (what happens because of the behavior).
Often the parent can play the role of 'behavior
detective' by finding the triggers for challenging behaviors and
avoiding these, or desensitizing the child to them. This is a way
to avoid negative behaviors from happening in the first place.
problems can be a source of many triggers. Careful observation
can reveal negative responses to certain sounds, types of touch,
smells, movements and tastes. There are obviously some things that
can't be avoided forever. For example, if your child hates the noise
of other people in a crowded supermarket, this is one trigger that
will eventually have to be dealt with. Desensitization
is often a useful strategy for this. The child is introduced to
the situation for small periods at a time and reinforced for the
growing ability to tolerate the setting for longer and longer periods
Other strategies are to pair the unpleasant trigger
reinforcement such as a favorite toy or treat, or use social
stories to model more appropriate responses. Encouraging a child
to express their discomfort verbally can give them a sense of control
that can decrease the need for an emotional outburst.
The desire for routine and predictability
Children on the autism spectrum vary in their
ability to deal with changes in their routine and unpredictability.
Anxiety in new situations can lead to challenging behaviors can
be avoided by letting the child know what is appropriate behavior
in that situation. When the child understands stories, social
stories are a powerful tool for incorporating a new activity
into a child's routine.
A wall chart is another visual strategy for this.
Pictures tell the child what is going to happen during the day or
week ahead. As with any behavioral strategy, the use of a wall chart
is gradually faded as the child gains language skills and routines
can be explained verbally.
With patience, a parent can slowly show their
child that new things and unpredictability can be fun. Occasionally
the child's favorite activities can be introduced without warning
so that disruptions to the routine are seen as positive. If children
are anxious about changes to routine, encouraging them to express
their discomfort verbally can give them a sense of control over
Reading subtext & non-verbal messages in social interaction
Children on the autism spectrum usually have trouble understanding non-verbal communication
through body posture and facial expressions, and the subtext of
social interaction. This can lead to inappropriate responses and
the child needs to be directly taught the correct responses. Social
stories can be helpful in teaching these skills if the child’s
language is at a point where he cannot understand verbal explanations.
The child can also misread social interaction
by not watching the other person closely. Although eye contact is
frequently uncomfortable for a child with autism or Asperger's syndrome,
encourage the child to watch the other person's eyes and gestures
to understand the messages conveyed.
Children on the autism spectrum may not understand
what is expected of them in a certain situation. If neurotypical
children are unsure on what to do, they will pick up cues from the
kids around them, or ask an adult what they’re supposed to do. A
child on the autism spectrum usually has trouble with imitating
their peers or asking adults for clarification. Parents can give
clear expectations in a way the child understands to minimize the
anxiety that coudl lead to challenging behavior. In addition, strategies
such as social stories can be used to teach the child how to imitate
peers and ask adults for direction.
Click here for the full
range of Asperger's and autism fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation. It is derivative of an autism and Asperger's
syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org