Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

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Discipline 101: Find Help and Share What Works for Your Family!
January 11, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Are you looking for help disciplining your ASD child?  You've come to the right place!  Our moms have "been there, done that" and have shared some great advice.  

               Here are just a few helpful tips shared by moms just like you:

1. Base your discipline style on their level of understanding 

~ Higher functioning children can understand rewards and punishments while low functioning children may respond better to redirection rather than consequences.

2. Make sure they know why they're being disciplined

~ Put an "If/Then" chart on the fridge so they know what's expected and what will happen if they don't obey.

~ Get down on their level and make sure you have their attention before you speak.

~ Discuss with your child what they did wrong then make them repeat it back to you.

~ For lower functioning children, repeat short sentences they might understand.  Example: If he turns the TV up too loud -  say "Too loud, too loud, too loud" while turning down the TV. 

3. Use rewards along with consequences

~ Take away a privilege for bad behavior (TV, video games, computer) but be sure to reward GOOD behavior as well.  

4. Redirect

~ Replace "bad" behavior (throwing a ball in the house) with "good" behavior (take your child outside to throw instead).

~ Engage them in a calming activity.

~ Remove them from the situation and offer an alternate, positive activity.

5. Be consistent and firm

~ Don't threaten a consequence without following through.

~ Be sure you discipline for the same behavior (good and bad) with consistency.

~ Don't back down from a consequence.

~ ASD children can be very literal.  Make sure you are telling them to stop a behavior rather than asking.

6. Allow room for change

~ Be prepared to adjust your discipline style as your child ages and develops.

For more details on how moms implement these ideas visit one of these helpful discussions or share questions and ideas in the replies below!


  • crystal450
    January 21, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    my husband and I are struggling w finding a discipline we both agree on with our 12 year old with high functioning asperger's. We have agreed to take away certian things to show appreciation. My husband feels his behavior needs to totally change before he can even look at a possible time to earn back what was taken and I feel like we need a date for him to work toward cause I am concerned he will think he will never see the posibility of getting it back therefrore will not care or make effort. any thoughts?

  • Eclypsediva
    January 28, 2012 at 8:51 PM
    With any child, punishment only works if consistent for them and realistic for YOU, the parent, to carry through. You are right to put a date or time on it (I.e., you've lost TV for 2 days). If the behavior repeats, then so does the consequence, 2 days no TV.

    ASD kids needs concrete, measurable things in every aspect of their lives, and discipline should be no different.

    Good luck! We all know how hard this is!
  • jeremiahsgirl29
    January 29, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    I am new at this.  My 8 year old son has been on meds for a 2 years and now they say he has Autism.  Highly functioning/Aspergers.  My husband I really struggle to discipline him or just get through to him.  He also seems to be very aggressive in social settings where there are more than 2 or 3 kids.  He doesn't understand children's social cues or empathize when they are scared or in pain.  Just hoping to find answers.  Any advice is appreciated.

  • shd822
    by shd822
    February 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    My 6 yr old son has HF Aspergers. While he is a gentle soul and has some(limited)understanding of social graces, we're still struggling in certain ares. I also have a 5 yr old daughter. We carpool to school with her little friend, whom my son is not entirely fond of. He's impatient, rude and inconsiderate to her. While he is very aware of how he is treating her, it's almost as if he can't control it. I've explained to him numerous times that his actions are not ok and we do not treat anyone with disrespect. He seems to understand and agree, but then continues the behavior. I've tried positive reinforcement and also consequences and punishments. Neither of which are working in this particular situation. It has become incredibly stressful and I'm starting to get desperate! Any words of wisdom??  

  • Hotmomma887
    February 11, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    My husband and I are at odds on how to punish our 5 1/2 year old son with HF Asperger's. He threw a chair at school and hit a teacher and received a 1 day suspension. What type of punishment is appropriate for him?

  • 3mx2mom
    by 3mx2mom
    February 11, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    My 10 yr old with Asperger's doesn't know when to shut his mouth. He doesn't make the connection that when being disciplined, you should just shut up instead of continuously running your mouth about the situation. I'll give you an example. Last night, we were leaving to meet my ex-husband for their weekend visit. We left right after dinner so I allowed them to pick a dessert to take in the car. My 8 yr old (non-Asp) decided on carmel popcorn. Because the bag was almost empty, I just dumped what was left into his plastic baggie. My 10 yr old decided he wanted Oreos. He wanted the whole bag of Oreos because his brother got the rest of the carmel popcorn bag. I told him he could have 6 because their were like 20 Oreos in the bag. He started going on and on about how unfair it was that his brother got so much more than he was getting so it wasn't fair. He also kept going on about how it was unfair that his brother got 2 cupcakes the night before. Where he couldn't make the connection was 1. all week he kept touching what he perceived to be the biggest cupcakes so he actually got more cake than his brother did. 2. his brother's carmel popcorn was the same amount of dessert as his 6 Oreos. Finally, I told him I was taking his Oreos away if he couldn't be quiet and grateful for what he was getting instead of mouthing off about what he wasn't getting (being ungrateful for everything is another issue. nothing is ever good enough for him. his sense of entitlement drives me insane). I took his Oreos away from him, and then the meltdown started. It lasted for about 30 minutes. It started all over again because he convinced himself that I was going to allow him to use the Visa gift card he got for his birthday at the gas station to buy himself a dessert. When I said no, we had another 30 minute meltdown in the car. He absolutely cannot make connections between his behavior and consequences. He still feels he was justified to act that way because he was wronged. How do you make your child understand those connections? If anyone has advice on that, I'd really appreciate it. I could give you 1,000 more examples of this type of behavior.

  • cui23
    by cui23
    February 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    This sounds so familiar.  This sort of thing happens to my 8 year old also.  I am looking for advice too.

  • marisab
    by marisab
    February 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM
    My son is 4 at the mentality of a 2-3 year old and 123 magic usually works sometimes redirection is needed
  • marisab
    by marisab
    February 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM
    My son is 4 at the mentality of a 2-3 year old and 123 magic usually works sometimes redirection is needed
  • sharkboy1
    February 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    OMG!  This sounds too familiar!  My 11 year old HF Aspergers son is the same way!  Every day is a battle and a fight between he, his younger brother, myself and their father!  NOTHING is EVER good enough - We try to show value in everything and explain the value and explain explain - then I feel like I am hitting my head against the wall with all the explaining - because I know that kids aren't listening after about 5 min. anyway!  Any advice on this one would be amazing!  :)


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