TIP: WHAT IS BEHAVIOR?
Through conversations with many families of children with autism, one of the most common questions or concerns I hear is in regard to their child’s “behavior”. Before we begin listing and talking about strategies to address challenging behavior, we must first define and identify what is behavior. Behavior is defined as the way in which one acts or conducts themselves, especially towards others. In other words, behavior is simply anything anyone does; good, bad or neutral. Throughout the next few weeks, we will look more in depth at the reason for challenging or negative behavior and strategies to decrease it.
For young children and children with autism, behavior is communication that is used to meet needs. It’s how they let you know they want something or want to avoid something. All behavior falls into a category of either attempting to get something good or avoid something bad. For example, your child wants you to pick him up so he walks over to you and cries. You pick him up. In this situation, your child has learned that crying is an effective way to communicate to mom or dad that I want to be picked up. At that time your child may not care or may not be aware that their way of communicating is not the “appropriate” way. The reason they continue to display this negative behavior is because it works! By looking at and understanding what your child is trying to express, you can better respond to his or her need and help your child learn more positive ways to communicate.
Take some time this week to identify what happens right before your child’s negative behavior. Write it down. Make a chart. You will probably notice a pattern! This can help you pinpoint the purpose of the behavior. Next week we will introduce strategies to help decrease negative behavior and increase positive behavior! Share any questions or thoughts about this topic at firstname.lastname@example.org.