Do you ever wonder whether you’re handling behavioral challenges in your home in the most effective manner?
Do you search the Internet looking at different approaches and end up overwhelmed and confused. You may have an extensive self-help library of parenting books and you may also have a lot of well intentioned people giving their opinions.
You may have more than one child and need different approaches, or you may have a child with complex behavioral difficulties. The family editions of the Autism Behavior Toolboxes on the Internet and in Apps are designed to help and support you in all of those situations
Augmentative and alternative communication
Both parents and teachers may reach a point with the child with autism where they feel they must develop some alternative ways to help the child express themselves. These may include the development of picture boards (low tech) all the way to digital – electronic technological aides (high tech). This section provides information on a variety of available systems and approaches that can be considered as a means of supplementing their communication skills.
Joint attention occurs when two or more people are paying attention to the same thing, when they share an emotional state, and when they are trying to accomplish the same thing and they know they are doing it together. This is a very frequent problem in children with autism.
Problems communicating in different environments
Many children with autism are concrete thinkers and have difficulty transferring their language skills from one environment to another. They may also have communicating about what happened in one environment when they are no longer there. For example, they may have a great deal of difficulty communicating about what happened at school when they are home. This section includes strategies on how to teach the child to generalize their communication skills from one environment to another.
Children with autism frequently experience anxiety in different forms than the typically developing child. For example, loud noises may cause considerable distress whereas maternal separation may not. Autism and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Autism affects a person\’s ability to communicate with others or to understand the world around him, and may be the source of considerable anxiety and panic.
These behaviors can be considered key components of children diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Compulsive behaviors can include behaviors such as continually lining up objects in a straight line, certain ways of grouping or counting and not wanting routines to be interrupted. Fixations and preoccupations or attachments can occur in terms of both material objects as well as interests. The latter can often include people, music, maps, numbers, and highly specific topics on which they become resident experts.
Children need to be aware of strategies to monitor and manage their own behavior in ways that are in accordance with parental, community, and societal values. Examples involve moving to a safe area when they sense they are getting upset, using caution when interacting with strangers, practicing deep breathing when they are getting anxious, etc. Strategies are included that help the child with autism to develop more self-control.
While it is quite normal for younger children to experience anxiety and stress when they are away from their primary caregiver, the child on the autistic spectrum may have prolonged difficulty in this area which becomes troublesome as they begin school and go into the community.
Low sensory arousal
This is a pattern of sensory processing characterized by high sensory thresholds and a passive self regulation strategy. Individuals with low registration patterns seem uninterested, self-absorbed, and flat in their emotional affect. They do not notice what is going on around them, and miss cues that might guide their behaviors. They may disregard sudden or loud sounds and be unaware of painful bumps or bruises/cuts. It appears that most events in daily life do not contain a sufficient amount of intensity to meet these children’s thresholds; their passive strategies lead to them being somewhat oblivious to activities (Dunn, 1997).
When people have a sensation avoiding pattern of sensory processing, they are bothered by sensory input more than others. Children who have sensation avoiding patterns are rule bound, ritual driven and uncooperative. When a person has sensation avoiding patterns, interventions are directed at making input less available, so that the person does not become overwhelmed and want to withdraw from participation in everyday life (Dunn, 1997).
Children who have sensation seeking patterns are very active, continuously engaging and excitable. Sensation seeking becomes a problem when seeking behaviors keep the person from continuing in a desired activity. When a person has difficulty with sensation seeking, interventions are directed at providing more opportunities for the desired sensory input within daily life activities.
Sensation Sensitivity When people have a sensory sensitivity pattern of sensory processing, they detect more input than others. Children who have sensory sensitivity patterns are distractible, hyperactive and can be complainers. They notice many more sensory events than others do, and comment about them with regularity. When a person has sensory sensitivity patterns, interventions are directed at providing more structured input, so that the person does not become overwhelmed in everyday life (Dunn, 1997).
These are skills that can be taught to help individuals initiate, maintain, and terminate conversations.