Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Self-management - a possible solution to behavioral issues

Most  children with autistism struggle with self-discipline. Parents have to deal with inappropriate outbursts and potentially dangerous behaviors, such as aggression towards others or self-harm.

Self-management can be a great tool for parents to manage this type of behavior. You probably think I am crazy for suggesting that the child self-manages, but let me explain.

The feeling of being controlled is often a big problem for children with autism. Self-management during certain routine times, such as during school or during therapy, will help the child to carry through this self-management into other areas of his or her life.

The key to successful self-management is to create a system whereby program whereby the child monitors his or her own activities or behavior. This can start with short amounts of time, such as 10 minutes at a time and as a parent you will continue to monitor your child from a passive standpoint. Remind him or her ever so often that he or she is in charge and responsible for his or her own behavior and actions.

Self-evaluation is the objective of this exercise. When he or she has more control, behavior becomes a more important consideration.

Set clear goals and enquire frequently as to how it is going. For instance, if the goal is a day with no aggression, you can check every 15 minutes to see how he or she is doing. If the goal is not achieved, it is possible that he or she is not yet ready for self-management, or it could be that the goal is too unattainable.

The goals should be easy to reach initially and gradually increased. When a child is successful at self-management, a beter attitude towards good behavior will be developed.

A rewards system works beautifully with self-management. Let him or her choose the reward. Explain the rewards and the behavior goals clearly to your child.  By reinforcing good self-management, the child will feel more in control of the self-management process. Choose simple rewards to start, such as stars of dots or happy  faces for every goal that he or she has met, and work up towards a larger goal, such as a new toy or a special activity  when a certain amount of credits has been attained.

As with everything else, self-management programs do not develop overnight, so you and your child will have to ensure that you take your time to devote enough time the a self-management experience.

Reinforcment of good behavior and rewards, as chosen by him or her instead of by a parent,  will strengthen the likelihood of the child carrying this on even when he or she is no longer participating in the program. A chore chart might be handy too.

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