TheAutismHelper features an article on their site written by Amy Nielsen, titled, "3 Simple Positive Behavior Strategies Parents can Implement at Home Today," to provide parents of children with autism with some tips on improving "negative" behaviors at home. For anyone who is a parent or caregiver of an autistic child who does not years of training and expertise in this area, responding appropriately to their challenging behaviors can cause some stress and frustration and you may not feel successful in your attempts. The first strategy Nielsen discusses is tell, don't ask, which means telling your child to do something rather than asking them. Often parents or caregivers use rhetorical questions to be polite, but that allows the child to think there is an option to say no, which is more confusing than it is helpful. Some tips to implement this strategy are: Be close in proximity to your child making a request and use as few words as possible, if your child is comfortable with it, make eye contact with them, and if they are able, make your child repeat what you requested back to you. The next strategy is Using Choices, which for autistic children, can play a significant role in the success of their everyday routines. If the two choices provided that go along with a routine are highly preferred, that increases the chance that your child will be happy will completing the necessary task. Three tips to use this strategy are: limit the choices you give to two or three, all of the choices should be acceptable to the parent with at least one choice being highly preferred by the child, and try to be consistent and avoid letting the child add an option to their choices. The third strategy that she lists in her article is often referred to as the PreMack Principle or Grandma's Rule, but Nielsen refers to it as First/Then. This is done when you pair a non-preferred activity (what you want them to do) with a preferred activity. You can tell them to do something that you want them to do with the promise that they can do something they want to do. You can implement this strategy by always having them complete the non-preferred activity first, never negotiating the order of activities, and even using a visual First/Then board with images of the tasks for children who are younger and are limited verbally. Nielsen adds a bonus tip to her article, and that is using timers. Timers can help with transitions and can be used with any positive behavior strategies that you use with your child. If you use them on a daily basis, they can become second nature for you and your child. You can incorporate timers by: keeping the time-frame short, usually two to five minutes to allow them to come to a natural stopping point, have your child start the timer, if they can, and set it where they can see it, and avoid negotiation after the timer is set. Raising an autistic child comes with its own challenges and can require a change in mindset for most parents, but with these simple strategies and tips, you can work on improving negative behavior and encouraging positive changes.
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