Excerpt from the new ebook I am writing entitled: Top ten strategies to help your high functioning autism spectrum child flourish.
This is the first page of my first chapter: Understanding, Analyzing and Resolving Problem Behaviors.
Families are often looking for help for an ASD child because of problem behaviors. Many of these problem behaviors can truly can be resolved with the correct approach which will be described in the remainder of this chapter. However, we need to begin with increasing our understanding and compassion for the ASD child, who has neurobiological reasons for having certain types of problem behaviors.
Due to neurobiological “hardwired” differences, ASD children have difficulty understanding the intentions and perspectives of other people, and this fundamentally alters the nature of their social interactions. Without a strong ability to predict what others will think, feel or do next, the social world can become highly stressful, confusing and even overwhelming. Additionally, changing from one activity to another is difficult for children on the spectrum, especially if the child is having to shift from a high preference special interest activity to a low preference activity of someone else’s choosing. Along with this, the ASD child is usually a black and white thinker, finding it hard to think of grey or nuance. This is further complicated by experiencing the physical world differently, leading the ASD child to become easily overloaded by sensations that a neurotypical does not even notice are occurring (such as by noise, sunlight, or seams in socks). These brain based hardwired differences of poor perspective taking skills, cognitive rigidity and sensory sensitivities influence thoughts, emotions and behavior in countless ways. Along with this are all the other aspects of the autism spectrum which could be coming into play when there are problem behaviors such as differences in understanding language or humor, obsessive interests or focusing on details rather than the “big picture.”
ASD children and teens are frequently misunderstood by their families, peers and teachers. In turn, ASD children and teens frequently misunderstand their families, peers and teachers. This mutual misunderstanding creates a fertile breeding ground for the development of problem behaviors. Once some of these problems develop, the children and teen may discover (although may not always be consciously aware) that problem behaviors get results and satisfy their needs. The biggest obstacle that most families face is not knowing what to do to resolve the behavioral problems. This is where analyzing the meaning of the behavior through functional behavioral analysis and making a new plan with positive behavioral supports becomes useful. Parents often worry that if they start to address the problem behaviors, that the behaviors will then worsen. This strategy though, aims to change the events or situations that trigger the problem behaviors so that they do not continue to occur.
Copyright 2012 Barbara R.Lester LCSW.
I go on from here to further describe the use of functional behavioral analysis and provide a number of examples and a behavioral analysis worksheet. Let me know what you think so far!