EXTINGUISHING CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS (Yes it can be done and YOU CAN DO IT)
Take a breath, hang own, you are not alone.., though it can certainly feel like that when you are dealing with the child you love in the middle of one their not so pretty behaviors.
First let me say the very best way to get help is to seek guidance from someone who can come into your home ( in my opinion an A.B.A. Therapist ), look for someone who has a love for children with A.S.D. and is well trained in behavioral intervention. However if that is not possible right now there are interventions you can put into place yourself and that in the long run they will make your life and the life of your family more pleasant.
Today I would like to talk about something that can be put into place by any parent, and I have seen work wonderfully, the catch is that if it is going to work then ALL ADULTS IN THE HOME HAVE TO AGREE ON THE INTERVENTION AND BE CONSISTENT. I can not stress this enough, especially for our very literal kids! Often to them once means always. Remember rules are a way they can feel safe in their world.
Okay lets talk about the nuts and bolts and then we will talk more about your part in getting it going.
First lets pick one or two behaviors, you can't do everything at once and neither can your child. For the purpose of this article lets pick one that many kids deal with, SAFE HANDS .
Next write out what this means,or use pictures or P.E.C.S. (Picture Exchange Communication System) For a sample of how to write a short "social" story see my article Autism- writing social stories for young children
Now Let's look at favorites of your child, something quantifiable, that you can control. It can be edibles, T.V. time, computer time , favorite toy etc., what ever you chose it is important that it is something that your child will only have access to when they earn it, if they can access it at other times it will diminish the reinforcers affectiveness.
The last thing that needs to be looked at is how tight of a reinforcement schedule to begin with (You want your child to be successful to begin with and then lengthen the time so it becomes more challenging ***** once you put this into place please do not stretch time intervals between goals too quickly, it is very important to go slowly ie. 5 minutes to 8 mintues etc. not five minutes to 30 minutes*** This will make more sense as we look at the board
Okay so we have Target behavior and a reinforcer, next is the making of the board (it would be great if your child could be part of this step).
Below is a simple example of a behavior board
I KEEP MY HANDS SAFE AND TO MYSELF
Time interval get sticker for each interval)
Now you have your board ready to go! Find a home for it where it can be really accessed, I like the fridge myself.
Make sure all adults are "targeting" the same behavior, in other words what exactly does Safe Hands mean to you, the absence of hitting , grabbing etc.
Find a time when your child is NOT engaging in the behavior to start . Show them the board. Read the short story you have written, and have them help you put the board up and pick out the stickers you are going to use.
Remember be consistent, give them the stickers only when they keep their hands safe! As tempting as it is do not give in to "just one more chance" , this may seem like the loving thing to do, but it will not be helpful to your child in the long run.
You can do this and so can your child, do not be discouraged if it does not get better right away, it is true that all good things take time, this will as well but I believe you will find it very helpful.