Asperger's Discipline Strategies:
Discipline strategies can be divided into two types. The first aims at stopping or reducing problem behaviours like tantrums, repetitive behaviours etc. The next aims at increasing the occurrence of positive behaviours, like participating in social situations or behaving well for a period of time.
Reducing Problem Behaviors
Rules: Rules make it easier for children with Asperger’s to understand what is expected from them. Limit obsessive behaviours, or narrowed interests by setting rules on how much time they can engage in that specific activity.
Reinforcement refers to various ways of encouraging the child to repeat a specific behavior. Children are given a reinforcer right after they engage in a positive behavior. The child learns that this specific behavior is associated with positive consequences, and thus engages in more of it. Reinforcers can be tangible like toys or edible items, non tangible like an activity they enjoy or a privilege like wearing a special badge. Social reinforcers are hugs, words of praise or public affirmation, and token reinforcers can be exchanged for things that the child wants at a later point of time.
Differential reinforcement is a technique used to decrease the occurrence of a problem behaviour. This is done by reinforcing a positive behavior that cannot occur in the presence of a specific problem behavior. Differential reinforcement can be initially given for a specific time period and gradually lessened as the child gets used to the positive behaviour pattern. For example, reinforce a child for sitting in one place and working. This will prevent him or her from running around the class or engaging in other problem behaviors. Initially the child can be reinforced every 10 minutes, but after a few days you can increase it to 15 minutes then 20 minutes and so on.
Checklists: Provide checklists for activities or tasks that the child is supposed to complete and teach them to check off the tasks as they are completed.
Redirection: Take the child’s attention away from an undesirable activity, and move it towards a safer, or more productive activity. This can also be used in the context of repetitive behaviours. Introducing the child to an interesting activity may stop them from engaging in repetitive behavior for a while.
In most children, we use negative consequences when they engage in problem behaviours. However, negative consequences can increase anxiety levels in children with Asperger's. Thus it is recommended that we use differential reinforcement techniques, or techniques where we reward positive behaviours that cannot occur with the problem behaviour.
Increasing the occurrence of positive behaviors:
Tokens: Students can receive tokens for good behavior that can be exchanged later for treats, or even activities.
Self-monitoring and self-evaluation: As the child becomes older, help him or her to assess their own behavior so that they can learn to regulate it themselves.
Skill training: In many cases, lack of skills can lead to behavior difficulties. Teaching social skills and social behavior, as well as techniques for self-management, including relaxation techniques, can make it easier for a child to cope during the day.
Hope these Asperger’s Discipline strategies were useful. Every child is different, and different techniques will work with them. Understanding your child will help you support them and promote positive behaviors.