How To Coach Your Aspergers Autistic Child To Positive Behaviour

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Let’s face it, whether we like it or not, autistic children commonly have outbursts of violent behavior or other undesirable behavior that we want to diminish or eradicate.  The question is how do we do this in a constructive way?  With an autistic child this is likely a greater challenge than it would be with a non-autistic child, but there is a way that may work well if your child is only mildly autistic and has good verbal communication.

At this point, you should have at least a basic understanding of your autistic child.  Do you know your child inside and out?  Probably not.  Do you really want to?  I doubt it, particularly if your child is a teen or pre-teen.  After all, I haven’t met an adult yet who wants to be a teenager again and an autistic teenager, with all the new awareness coming on, will have a jumbled mix of feelings to deal with.

The method I am going to teach you is called trans-derivational searching, and this can be used with your child to really get to the root of the negative behaviour.  After all, by now your child should feel a level of trust with you and you should have the lines of positive communication open.  That means that now it’s time to get to the heart of the matter – helping your child cope in life and maintain acceptable behaviour.

Trans-derivational searching is a way for you to help your child to find out where a certain belief or behavior is coming from, and then to change that belief or behaviour.  To use this technique you need to develop a series of questions, based on the belief or behaviour.

Each question will be an opportunity for your child to dig deeper into his mind and eventually find out why he thinks that way.  Here is an example:

Children with autism often hit others.  While this may be looked upon as a violent act, when it comes to the autistic child, this is generally not the case.  If your child is hitting, it may be for any number of reasons.  Often, when a child is exhibiting violent behavior toward classmates, they are removed from the classroom.  This in and of itself may actually make the problem worse, if the root cause of the behaviour is not understood.  Let’s see how this can be.

You can use trans-derivational searching to find out why your autistic child is hitting, provided she has the verbal skills to understand some simple questions and respond to them.  Maybe your child is hitting one specific child in her class, or it is random who is on the receiving end of her violent behaviour.  Here is how your questions might go:

Why are you hitting your classmates?

She might answer that that it is because the teacher takes her out of the classroom when she does.

You begin a series of questions:


Do you want to be taken out of the classroom?


Why do you want to be taken out of the classroom?

Because I don’t like where I sit.

Are you uncomfortable there?

Have you ever felt comfortable in that classroom?

Would you feel comfortable if you were in a different part of the room?

Imagine the classroom if you were in a different place in the room.


Through this line of questioning, you realize that her desire to get out of the classroom is what is causing her behavior.  She does not know how to express her unhappiness of where she sits in the room, so she behaves in a way that she can be taken out of the room.  As you talk about it, you can help her understand that her behavior toward her fellow students is unacceptable, and that she can simply approach the teacher and ask to be moved.  Together and with the teacher, you find a way to make her more comfortable in the classroom and the violent behavior stops.

These questions are designed to get your child thinking about what it would be like if the “reason” for the behavior wasn’t there, or to get her thinking about a different way of behaving that will express the same feelings and thoughts.  This allows your child to see that she has friends, and that her friends do touch her in a gentle way.

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Stay tuned for more tips.

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