- Posted by Caravel Autism Health
- On January 22, 2019
- 0 Comments
Parenting a child with autism comes with special challenges, as any parent of a child on the spectrum can tell you. Caravel Autism Health’s specialists work closely with families with children who have autism, providing in-home ABA therapy. Almost every day, they hear from parents who are frustrated by their inability to keep their children calm and bring about peace in the family home.
Even experienced parents report that parenting a child on the spectrum is significantly more challenging than parenting their neurotypical children. This frustration is nearly universal among parents of children who are on the spectrum. But it’s not their fault, nor is it the fault of child, explains Caravel Autism Health psychologist Eric Lund, Psy.D., ABPP, BCBA-D, who has worked with children with autism for 15 years.
“Kids with autism are coming at developmental challenges with a different perspective and a different way of problem-solving,” explains Dr. Lund. “What parents need to understand is that a child with autism faces specific difficulties that children who are not on the spectrum do not have to confront. And unless we can equip that child with the necessary skills, he or she will continue to struggle and to dominate family life, not necessarily in a positive way.”
A child with autism changes the dynamic of the family home. Children who are on the spectrum often take over as the leader of the household, with everyone else scrambling around trying to prevent tantrums. To some degree, all children use what psychologists refer to as “negative reinforcement” to control their parents. By crying or throwing a tantrum, the child creates a difficult and distressing situation for the parent, who then scrambles to solve the problem for the child. The parent is rewarded when the distressing behavior stops, but the child is learning that he or she will be rewarded for this negative behavior.
For typically developing children, this behavior continues only for a short period of time. By a relatively young age, most children learn alternative ways to get their needs met. They begin talking and using negotiation to get what they want, falling back on tantrums only when the negotiation process does not work.
For children with autism, however, this transition is not quite so simple. Children who are on the spectrum have difficulty processing and understanding the complexities of the verbal and social world. Talking, negotiating and understanding other people’s motivations are not skills that develop naturally for children on the spectrum. Without those skills, these children fall back on what has worked in the past, i.e., tantrums, to get their needs met. “In the child’s mind, oppositional or aggressive behavior is the best solution to getting their way,” explains Dr. Lund.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, usually done in the family home, teaches a child with autism how to better understand the complex verbal and social world. In-home ABA therapy gives the child the skills needed to get his or her needs met. As the child begins to better understand how to interact with others, the child also begins to value those relationships.
“ABA therapy directly addresses a skill deficit,” explains Dr. Lund. “By identifying that skill deficit and teaching the child the skills needed to overcome that deficit, we are showing the child better ways to get his or her needs met.” The end result is that the child experiences less distress and family interactions become more positive and more productive. For more information about in-home ABA therapy, please visit https://caravelautism.com/what-is-aba-therapy/.