How do you deal with the negative behaviors of Asperger’s (e.g. temper tantrums and having no empathy for other family members) on a daily basis?
For families living with Asperger’s, negative behaviors can seem to dominate the atmosphere, leaving an air of contention over the entire household. The tantrums, rigidity and lack of social communication skills can do real damage to family relationships. It helps to remember that these behaviors are a direct result of some type of difficulty your child is facing and struggling to overcome. Examples of this may be times of transition, like changing from play time to homework time, or outside interferences interrupting his special interest time. Dealing with these negative behaviors with punishment almost always seems to make matters worse. The child feels attacked for trying to communicate in the best way he knows how.
For weary parents of children with Asperger’s, negative behaviors can seem too routine and too overwhelming to correct. It can be done by creating a plan. Parents must first identify each negative behavior and its cause. Each family member can contribute to this step, which should be done without the child’s knowledge. No one wants to see and hear a list of his worst attributes. However, the negative has to be identified before it can be conquered. Here are some additional suggestions to help complete this process.
- Rate each negative behavior to decide what needs immediate attention. List the behaviors, the causes, the desired behaviors, and the supports needed for each problem behavior you hope to correct. Once you have a complete list, you can start working on each behavior one at a time.
- Use rewards to reinforce positive changes and behaviors. Special treats like candy and stickers make good rewards for young children. Older children work well when they earn points they can save up for big rewards.
- Remind family members to offer the suggested support instead of a negative reaction. The repetitive nature will help reinforce the desired behavior.
- When negative behaviors crop up, remain calm. Suggest a time out for everyone if tempers flare. This is not a punishment, but a chance to regain composure and calm attitudes.
When dealing with Asperger’s negative behaviors, remember to recognize your child’s feelings. Most negative behaviors stem from frustration due to a lack of communication skills. As your child matures, this ability should mature with him, naturally reducing his negative behaviors. If you fail to see improvement once you implement your behavior modification plan, your child may need outside help to make positive changes.