Dr. Temple Grandin on DISCIPLINE

“I cannot emphasize the importB9315403164Z.1_20141208230949_000_GLQ9BRDPJ.1-0ance of consistency.  When I was in elementary school, the penalty for having a tantrum was to have no TV for one night.  That was the rule and it was always enforced.  It is essential for the rules to be consistent at BOTH home and school. Parents and teachers must work together otherwise the child may manipulate the parent against the teacher and vice versa.  Kids need to learn that “No” means No and be rewarded when they do things right.  You also need to determine if a behavior problem is caused by pain or sensory over sensitivity.  Hidden painful medical problems must be ruled out.  Some common ones are – acid reflex (heartburn), constipation, yeast infections, toothaches, and earaches.  A child may fear going into a room where a smoke alarm had previously gone off, because it hurt his/hear ears.  After these biological causes of behavior problems are ruled out, then the behavioral motivation can be figured out.

The three main behavioral causes of tantrums and other problems behaviors are:

  • Get attention
  • Frustration because communication is difficult
  • Escape from a task

Each one of these motivators needs to be handled in a different way.  Often the best way to handle behaviors motivated for attention getting is to ignore it.  If a non-verbal child is frustrated because he/she cannot communicate, he/she should be given a means to communicate, such as a picture board or picture exchange.  There are many new apps available for I Pads and other tablets for communication.  If the child is trying to escape from a task, you need to make sure the task is not stupid.  An example of a stupid task would be making a brilliant 8-year-old do baby math drills.  He/she should be given the more advanced math book.

All children in the autism spectrum should be expected to do daily living tasks that they are capable of doing.  Some examples are making their bed, being on time for the school bus or helping with household chores.  When I was a child, I was expected to have good table manners and to say “please” and “thank you.”  When I made a mistake with table manners, mother did not say No. She told me the correct behavior.  For example if I ate mashed potatoes with my fingers, she said, “No, use your fork.”  She gave me the instruction, instead of just saying NO.”

-Dr. Temple Grandin

The above and other Q & A from Dr. Temple Grandin was provided by is posted at:  http://www.templegrandin.com/faq.html 

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  1. My autistic daughter has a habit of breaking into her sisters bedroom and destroying her makeup. No matter what I try, it doesn’t work. My older daughter is having her own meltdowns over this. How do I stop her when nothing works?

  2. Hi let me just put it out there I need help. My son is 3 and 1/2 years old he has been evaluated by a pediatrician that specializes in developmental disorders and she believes that he has the early symptoms of autism. My son is highly functioning however the problem with Liam is communication speech delays and the worst his Tantrums. I want to know, what is your advice when my son who is three and a half, starts having these meltdowns and throwing things in the air and all these objects are hitting us all in the head?

  3. Interesting, my daughters 7yr old has just be diagnosed with HFA and greatful for all the help and literature we can lay our hands on.

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