Disciplining an Asperger Child

Published: 08th May 2007
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An Asperger child may throw tantrum or behave aggressively when he is disappointed or frustrated as other children do. But he is not doing it intentionally, because as an Asperger child, he is unable to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings. He doesn't know that other people hurt when he hit them. He may learn this as he gets older, but it may take sometimes. So how do parents of Asperger's Syndrome children tell them to not hit other people? How can they handle their misbehavior? Here are a few short but helpful pointers to help parent in disciplining an Asperger child.

Discipline is about teaching your child good and appropriate behavior. Discipline is about helping them to become an independent and responsible people. Regardless, your child is special need or not, you still need to discipline him with the consideration of his special needs. In particular, you need to keep in mind of his unusual perception of pain. Therefore, hitting them or any physical punishment is big no-no. The hitting will not teach that their behavior is unacceptable. In contrast, it may encourage them that hitting others is an acceptable behavior. It may even encourage self injurious behavior. In fact many experts strongly agree to not use physical punishment on autistic children and advised them to find alternative methods of discipline method.

The best method is through positive discipline, where you focus on his acceptable behavior and provide rewards so that your child would be encouraged to repeat the behavior. To do that, first you need to establish ground rules. The ground rules must states specifically of what is consider as an acceptable behavior and what is not. You must catch and reward them when they are well-behaved and following the rules. A reward need not necessarily be a physical or expensive reward. It can be a genuine praise or word of encouragement. Most importantly, the reward must be clear and specific . The child should be able to know exactly the behavior that earned the reward. Rather than saying "Good job," say "Thank you for cleaning up your room."

Some Asperger child are not able to generalize information. They are usually not able to apply what they learn in one learning context to another learning context. For example, he may learn that hitting his friend at school is not acceptable, but he may not necessarily understand that he cannot hit his sister at home. That is, once the situation change, it will be a totally a new learning experience for him. Be consistent and provide many repetitions in disciplining them. If there is punishment, make sure that the punishment is always the same for the bad behavior. Consistent environment and many repetitions will help your Asperger child to learn and remember the differences between right and wrong.

Disciplining an Asperger child is not easy, but with your loving care and understanding of him will make the task much easier to fulfill. I feel by accommodating his special needs and the loved he feel, he takes discipline a lot better. Be persistent and enjoy every small success. He may not be the captain of a football team, but he is taking small steps to become an independent and responsible person.


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