How Do You Define Behavior Problems for Children with Autism?

Clearly defining behavior problems for children with autism is the first step in solving the problem or helping the child learned needed skills. In order to find a good long term solution to behavior problems we must first describe them. This leads to discovering causes.

Educators and parents can be very "agenda oriented." That means that we have a goal to accomplish and we just expect all the students or all the children to follow along and do what we want them to do.

Well. . . .

Unfortunately, that's not going to happen all the time for all students (not just those on the autism spectrum). A typical adult response is to get frustrated because of "behavior problems."

There are solutions

Most of the time there are solutions to autism behavior problems. Often, the remedy to a problem is easier than you think. But an important first step in finding a good solution to these situations is to describe them.

Here are examples

Here are some descriptions that people would classify as behavior problems:

  • When a student's behavior is causing injury or harm to himself or others
  • When behavior prevents the student from participating effectively in his life routines
  • When an individual uses behavior as an inappropriate or ineffective means of communicating
  • When he is engaging in behaviors or activities that are different from what is expected from him considering the age, ability level, location, event, or activity
  • When she is not following or complying with the rules, routines, or expectations of specific occasions or environments
  • When the student is not performing expected skills or engaging in typical actions or interactions effectively
  • When the individual is not performing his life routines at the level of independence expected for his/her age and ability level
  • When a student does anything that calls attention to himself, making him significantly different from his peers

There are questions

In addition to describing the behavior, there are many questions that have answers that will lead to a solution. Here are some examples of questions to ask.

  • 1
    Is this a common problem or something that happens regularly? 
  • 2
    Is it a problem that has occurred once or happens infrequently?
  • 3
    Does the problem occur in various locations or situations?
  • 1
    Is the problem location specific or is it only with certain people?
  • 2
    What is the current way to handle the situation?
  • 3
    Do the current management methods work?

How do we react?

It's typical to react to behavior situations by trying to change the immediate circumstances. Those immediate reactions may not point us to the real "root" of a problem or the underlying cause of the behavior situation. 

Identifying the causes of autism behavior problems leads to the real goal which is to find long term solutions. A thorough analysis can reveal problems and patterns that may not be immediately obvious.

This is why working as a team is so helpful. Each team member will have different observations and unique ideas about what the causes could be.

Common causes of autism behavior problems

Describing problems and answering questions leads us to discover root causes of issues.  This works for young children, teens and adults, and ages in between.

Surprisingly, a large percentage of autism behavior problems center around two things:

  • Communication challenges
  • Sensory issues

Communication and/or sensory problems emerge as the root for many behavior challenges for children with autism and related learning challenges for this population. Knowing that will lead you to valuable solutions.

Here's a resource

Solving Behavior Problems in Autism

Need help with behavior challenges?

 The Guide for Assessing Behavior Situations in the book Solving Behavior Problems in Autism is a perfect tool to help your team discover answers to your behavior questions.

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