Ten Steps of Behavior Management for Children with Autism

During the epidemic period and after school resumes, due to changes in the way of living and learning caused by home restrictions, coupled with the psychological pressure, many parents have reported that their children have repeated behavior problems of varying degrees such as non-compliance, temper tantrums, and even aggression towards others or themselves. These behaviors not only hinder children’s learning and socialization, but also affect their emotion, safety, other people and the surrounding environment. Hence, the behaviors must be addressed as early as possible.

Behavioral issues are complicated, constantly changing and are affected by many different factors. Behavior management strategies are diverse and vary from person to person. The following ten steps hopefully can help address different behavior problems of children with autism:

1. Understand the child’s physical condition and background

For example: age, growth and development, diagnosis history, physical condition, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, learning style, etc.

2. Establish behavioral problems and severity

Clearly define behavioral issues: What does it mean to lose your temper? Crying? Screaming? Whining? Hitting someone with a fist? Rolling on the ground? Analyze the negative consequences of behavior problems, that is, risk factors, directly affect the intensity and urgency of behavior management strategies.

3. Analyze the nature and function of the behavior

Is the behavior problem involuntary? Or is it a means to achieve certain goals?

4. Assess child abilities

Knowing what a child can and cannot do help us to identify socially significant behaviors that children should learn to do.

5. Develop reactive and procative behavior management strategies

If the behavior problem is involuntary, it is necessary to relieve the child’s anxiety and improve their ability to resist stress. If the behavior problem is manipulative, the focus is to identify possible functions and to teach alternative or replacement behavior according to the child’s ability.

6. Effective use of reinforcement

Reinforcement motivates learning and is the backbone of teaching.

7. Ensure consistency

The family and significant others work together and help each other.

8. Stay calm and positive

The prerequisite is to have a positive relationship with the child and have enough reinforcement to motivate children to learn. When behavior problems occur, react calmly. The best time is to teach and manage the issue when the child behaves well.

9. Objectively measure progress, review results and make adjustments

Check whether the child’s behavioral problems have decreased, and more importantly, whether the desirable behaviors have increased. If the effect is not good, we must change the strategies. If the progress is good, we should increase expectations and facilitate the child to perform in different situations.

10. Seek professional assistance

If no significant progress is being observed, it is recommended to seek the assistance from qualified and experienced professionals as soon as possible.

Dr. Raymond Fung

Ed.D, M.S.ABA, BCBA, Training Director

Information provided by:

Dr. Raymond Fung holds a Doctor of Education from the University of Bristol, a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from St. Cloud State University. His doctoral thesis explored Progressive ABA, Autism and Technology. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who has been teaching individuals with autism and training professionals for over 20 years.

Dr. Raymond Fung has been receiving ongoing training from Dr. Ron Leaf, Dr. John McEachin and their associates since he joined Autism Partnership (AP) Hong Kong in 2000. Since 2005, he has trained more than 500 behavioral therapists internationally. In 2007, he participated in the curriculum development for AP School, the first and only primary school for autistic students in Hong Kong. In 2014, he developed 6 mobile applications for individuals with autism. In 2016, he created a school-based social skill program for local secondary students. In 2018, he hosted a radio program on RTHK with a group of adults with high functioning autism. Currently, he is the training director of AP Hong Kong, and the voluntary consultant of AP Foundation. In 2023, he published his book “Teaching Children with Autism”. He consults in China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, South Africa, and Russia. Previously, he was the clinical director of 2 AP international offices, the conference chair of Hong Kong Association for Behaivor Analysis, and a part-time lecturer of a master program in autism in Hong Kong Metropolitan University.

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