My son doesn’t know how to say “I’m upset, please leave me alone” or how to respond appropriately to no. He scratches, and head buts if you get down in his face to scold him. We do timeouts, yes, but our timeouts are different.
Many ASD kids, I am learning, are prone to meltdowns. They know when they feel out of control, and they want to stop, but their immature nervous systems and their brains won’t let them. That’s why, when members of my family tell me I need to discipline him more for his out of control behavior, I try to explain this to them. I can’t yell this out of our kid. Negative reinforcement doesn’t work. Only redirection.
It get’s really nerve wracking when he is at someone else’s house and they try to scold him and they wonder why they get scratched. Why he doesn’t just calm down, why he asks for a nap whenever he get’s upset. He just wants to be in a safe place where he can work out his frustrating feelings alone. He’s not getting out of anything, he heard me say no, that is how he reacts. I don’t get scratched nearly as much as I did when I didn’t understand. After he calms down, I talk to him about it. He says he is “sorry” and snuggles after. So he get’s it.
I don’t let him get away with anything. When he does listen when I say “No, sit down in the chair” and he does it? I reinforce him positively. “Thank You son.”, and you know what? He listens to that. He doesn’t listen to “calm down and then you can quit being held to the floor.” OF course that’s going to frustrate him more! He doesn’t know how to say “don’t touch me right now, I can calm myself down!”. So he scratches. He bites. He head buts. And then I get yelled at.
Just another thing that I am so sick of trying to explain that only mothers and fathers of ASD kids understand.