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How to Discipline a Child Who Has Asperger's

author image Susan Ward
Susan Ward, M.A., writes about family, parenting, and children's mental health issues for multiple publications. She has been published in various special interest publications, both in print and online, in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the U.K. since 1989. She's also authored two books and numerous booklets.
How to Discipline a Child Who Has Asperger's
Consider the difference between what your child can't do and what your child won't do. Photo Credit upset image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com

Asperger's syndrome (AS), a neurological disorder, falls on the autism spectrum, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Symptoms include language and communication challenges, restrictive thought patterns and repetitive behaviors. To discipline a child with AS, parents must determine which behaviors their child is unable to control such as repetitive behaviors and which require guidance and discipline such as rude, aggressive behaviors.

Step 1

Create a list of behaviors and actions your child cannot control due to her asperger's diagnosis. These may include repetitive behaviors such as spinning or hand flapping, along with poor peer relations and easy distractablity. Your child may require help and guidance to overcome these issues. However, she should not be disciplined.

Step 2

Establish a clear list of unacceptable behaviors in your child. Include insights and feedback from your spouse, your pediatrician, babysitters, teachers and others who regularly interact with your child. These inappropriate behaviors include things like aggression, rude language, defiance and non compliance.

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Step 3

Develop an appropriate format for instructing your child about behaviors that are unacceptable and will result in a negative consequence. Because asperger's symptoms often include difficulty processing information, the list may need to be verbalized, written down and displayed in picture format. Copying the list and placing it throughout the house may also be helpful for children with asperger's.

Step 4

Determine preventative instructions to help your child learn the appropriate way to handle difficult situations. Through role play, discussion and stories, provide your child with alternatives to hitting, yelling and throwing. Social stories, developed to help autistic children understand difficult situations, may be particularly helpful for teaching about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Because children with asperger's often process information slowly, repeat your preventative instructions numerous times.

Step 5

Implement a consequence plan. For each negative behavior you have identified as inappropriate from your child, decide the consequence. Dr. Susan Giurleo at Child Development Partners reminds parents of children with neurological disorders that discipline needs to be clear, concise, consistent and calm. If your child misbehaves, tell him in a few words what he did wrong and tell him the consequence. For example, "Hitting your brother is inappropriate. Go sit in the timeout chair for 5 minutes."

Step 6

Review your discipline plan regularly. Consider your consistency regarding implementation of the plan. Evaluate your child's behavior and determine if the plan needs revisions based on her age, development or behavioral changes.

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