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 email@example.com.
Tip: Get involved in your child’s education
So, the first 2 weeks of school are behind us and hopefully your child has begun to settle down in their new classroom. The routine has been established and the transition into school every morning has gradually become smoother! Time to relax and take a deep breath, right? Not yet! This is where the job of advocating for your child’s education comes into play! Listed below are some tips for parents to consider implementing throughout this school year to help ensure your child gets off to a great start for this school year:
- GET INVOLVED – Look for opportunities to volunteer within your child’s classroom or school. Look for chances to support the teacher and classroom by helping plan class parties, organize/prepare activities, or volunteer when needed and available.
- COMMUNICATE OPENLY WITH TEACHER – establish some method for communicating daily with your child’s teacher about progress and challenges (notebook, email, talk at pick up, etc.). Communication is so vital to consistency between home and school.
- FOLLOW THROUGH WITH EXPECTATIONS AT HOME– through daily communication you can learn the specific behaviors and skills teachers are targeting within the classroom. This enables you to follow through at home with the same skills utilizing the same strategies to help your child make progress in a shorter amount of time!
- CELEBRATE EVERY VICTORY/SUCCESS – even the small ones! As your child acquires a new skill or learns to do a skill more efficiently, CELEBRATE and reinforce! A reward/reinforcement for your child’s achievement will increase the probability of that skill/behavior reoccurring. Have fun with it and let your child know you are proud of their hard work!
By being your child’s advocate, you can work with the school to create an education program that unlocks your child’s full potential! Having a child with Autism demands a great amount of responsibility, but BE OPTIMISTIC and take it one step at a time! Trust that the steps you are taking are making a huge impact on the life of your child!
Share your questions or success stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.