Reducing the Occurrence of Problem Behaviors
Here are a few ideas for dealing with behavioral problems in autistic adults.
Structure and routine: Structure and routine helps people with autism to feel safe and comfortable, and function better. A study carried out in 2009 showed that adults with autism living in a highly structured situation had fewer behavior problems than others. Introduce structure into the day and week through schedules. Whenever there is going to be a change in the schedule, make sure the person is prepared about it well in advance. Also while visiting a new place, the autistic person can be shown pictures; and the plans for the day can be discussed so that he or she is able to be prepared.
Meaningful activities for sensory needs: Meaningful activities can be offered to people to cater to their sensory needs. For example a person who rocks a lot can be asked to sit on a swing chair. Similarly, others may enjoy sports, art, or music activities depending on their sensory needs.
Positive family interactions and family support: A positive family who supports the adult with autism and encourages them helps to reduce behavior problems. One study showed that when mothers had a good relationship with their autistic sons and daughters, it helped reduce behavior difficulties.
Adaptations in the environment: Sometimes for autistic people who have hypersensitivity to various sensory experiences, adapting the environment can help. Some may be able to work better in a dark room. Others may need a quiet environment. Thus, identifying the factors in the environment that cause distress and eliminating them, can help in reducing behavior problems.
Catering to medical needs: If a person who usually does not show a behavior problem suddenly presents with one, overall health must be looked into. Illnesses can manifest as problem behaviors.
Training in communication: Training the person to communicate better will help him or her to express their needs, and will thus reduce behavior problems. For non verbal autistic adults, communication boards or picture cards can be used. Some people prefer to use gestures. Both the adult with autism and the caregiver need to be familiar with the communication techniques.