Autism and Discipline


We all have that one family member that will tell you at every family function that we aren’t disciplining our child with autism correctly.  That is probably the same family member that believes that Toni Braxton cured her son of autism.

This has been a topic that I have discussed with many specialists, educators and autism experts.  Do I discipline Sydney? What does that look like? Does she really understand what a consequence means?  Now if you asked me those questions six years ago my answer would have been no.  Now that Sydney is twelve years old, she knows the difference between right and wrong.  There are times that I think Sydney’s behaviors are out of her control because of the autism and epilepsy.  Then there are times that I think to myself that look on her face and hand on her  hip is the same attitude that I gave my mommy when I was twelve years old.

Sydney knows when to say “I’m sorry”.  And I believe that she truly means it.  Sydney understands emotions now.  I also think that she can read the emotions of others.  Is it wrong to discipline her? Shouldn’t she have a consequence?   Harrison believes so.  I took Sydney’s iPad away from her because of an incident that happened at school.  When I explained to her why she couldn’t use the iPad she replied, “This is a big time out.” When she asked for the ipad later, I reminded her of the social story.  She needed reminders of why she couldn’t have it. But we all survived.

This was a good time to discuss emotions again, and appropriate behavior with her.  Now that Sydney is communicating more, we are really trying our best to get her to verbalize how she is feeling before she escalates.  I’m not sure if Australia is working anymore.  She told me she wants to go to Italy instead.

She came home and told me she was a bully.  That broke my heart.  I am not sure if that was an echolalia incident or not.  Nonetheless it bothered me that she repeated that statement. I don’t want my daughter viewed as a bully.

Each child with autism is different. As a parent you know your child best.  The key is to not reinforce the negative behavior. Don’t worry I have been guilty of doing that in the past.   In the end I have to teach Sydney that her actions positive or negative have consequences.

Harrison is amazing with her.  She never wants to make him upset or mad.  I never thought that I would be happy to see them fight like “normal siblings”.  But this meant that Sydney was interacting more with the world around her.

What is your opinion on autism and discipline?



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