You would probably have discovered that your autistic child will challenge your parenting skills with their extremes of behavior. Extremes of behavior would include such things as temper tantrums, self injurious behavior, aggression and agitation. Essentially, he is dictating to you what he wants and his preferences. If he does not get what he wants, you are made to suffer the consequences. Rather than giving in, you should in fact learn how to teach your child a more appropriate way in which to get what he wants.
This is where a consistent program of behavioral modification will work very well. It will not only help you to cope with your child's behaviors but it will also teach your child more socially appropriate behaviors. Such a program must consist of 4 components: a structured daily routine; behavioral control; communication; and applied behavioral analysis.
You should instill a structured daily routine as your autistic child can then know what to expect. Autistic children do not usually cope well with inconsistency or change. Therefore, sticking to a daily routine is important as much as possible.
The next thing that a parent must learn is how to control tantrums and other such behavioral issues. In doing so there are 3 factors to bear in mind:
1. Those behaviors that are dangerous to the child or those around him must be dealt with first. These behaviors need to immediately be stopped with firm words and actions. Try not to show your child any anger while doing this though.
2. Autistic children need to be taught how to sit. The best way in which to do this is to reward appropriate sitting behavior while either ignoring or giving a negative consequence for inappropriate sitting behavior.
3. Autistic children tend to have bizarre, stereotypical, repetitive behaviors. The most obvious of these are finger flapping and rocking. These can be very distracting and thus a firm "stop" command is suggested for use. Next direct your child to another activity that will not allow him to continue these behaviors.
It is important that you talk to your child regularly. Whenever you are talking to an autistic child you need to be both simple and direct. You need to use short, clear sentences without going into explanations or using too many words. So, instead of telling your child, "Come here so that I can fix your pants and tuck in your shirt because you need to look nice" simply tell him, "Come here now." This is an easy command to process as you want to avoid confusing him.
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a form of behavioral therapy that is popular. This involves breaking down tasks into individual components. Then, whenever a child successfully completes each step of the task he should be rewarded. It is believed that this form of therapy has a 47% success rate. It is important to note that ABA is not the only behavioral approach to treating autism nor is it a cure for autism. But it is a therapy that should be explored as one of your many options to helping your autistic child.