Autism in Early Childhood
Seeing Limits Before they Become Problems
Your best choice is to try to arrange your days so that behavior problems are avoided before these happen. The same things you would do with any child will often work, you just may need to make some slight adjustments for a child with a disability.
1. Have reasonable expectations. If a child has autism or other severe disability, don't expect him or her to be at the same level as other children at the same age. This can be easier said than done, especially if a child does not look any different from other children. Be sure the child can understand your instructions. Try giving shorter, simpler directions. Instead of:
"Jordan, that was a very bad thing you did and it hurt your sister's feelings. You should not do that and I don't want you ever to do it again. You're too big of a boy to be hitting your sister."
"Jordan! Don't hit! That's bad!"
2. If you know a child has a short attention span, don't take her places she has to sit quietly or walk along with you for a long period of time. Dr. De Mars' tells this story,
"When my daughter was about three years old, we went Christmas shopping. Since we have a big family, we were out for a long time, in the crowds, noise and general chaos. Finally, my daughter looked up to me and said,
'Mom, we have to go home now, I am all out of good.' "
Sometimes the problem is us. When adults don't take the child's limitations into account and she is too tired, too bored or too sleepy to keep from crying or whining, whose fault is it?
Next: Changing the environment (or, I cannot believe I was such an idiot!)
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