Nov 19, 2019
How should you respond when your child is consistently exhibiting negative behaviors, like a meltdown or tantrum? What types of curricular help are out there for parents that want to homeschool their child? What can you do to be an advocate for your child? Ensuring they get the help that they need both inside and outside of the classroom?
These questions can be very overwhelming to think about.
Today, I am joined by Sasha Long, author of the Autism Helper Podcast and creator of The Autism Helper Curriculum, to provide some clarity for you and give you answers to all these questions!
Sasha Long is a former Special Education teacher, and she spent ten years working in a self-contained public-school classroom. She loved doing her job, but she struggled in the beginning because there wasn't a lot of support for Special Education curriculums. Sasha went to school to become a BCBA while she was still teaching, and she learned a lot of helpful principles that she applied and put into action within her classroom. Eventually, she decided to create her own curriculum that would be structured and explicitly geared towards learners with autism.
In this episode, we talk about behavioral problems and how to stop reinforcing our children's negative patterns. It can seem easier in the moment to give in to our child's tantrum, but ultimately, we are not creating positive changes in their behavior. We should begin by figuring out what is motivating the disruptiveness and then determine how to starve the negative behavior and replace it with a positive and healthy way for the child to communicate what they want. It is also essential to write down the data behind these behaviors, so we can better understand what keeps triggering our child and the actions that work to help calm them down. It will help you to figure out how long their behavior lasts and what seems to be working or not on your part to discourage it positively.
We also discuss how we can better advocate for our children and in doing so, help there to be more inclusiveness when they are in social situations. By speaking about the positive actions and the good things that our children are doing, it creates a positive image in people's minds. People are more inclined to remember negative traits and habits, so by reinforcing the good things about our child, it helps them to remember the positive instead of focusing entirely on what they do wrong.
There are four general reasons for negative behavior, called SEAT. This stands for Sensory, Escape, Attention, and Tangible. Each of these motivations can contribute to why your child is expressing disruptive behaviors. We often want to jump in and put an intervention in place immediately when we see negative behavior, but we need to figure out what is going on first because there could be things you are not noticing. Antecedents- what is happening before a behavior, and Consequences- what is happening after?
We also talk about Sasha's curriculum titled The Autism Helper Curriculum. She discusses each of the subjects that she created, which include Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Functional Literacy, and Reading Comprehension. It is designed for a teacher or parent that wants their children to have flexibility in their style of learning. Whether it is for independent study, an extremely verbal method of teaching, or through visual and gestural prompts.
We, as parents, need to find the courage to stand up for our children and be unafraid to challenge what our child is receiving and to ask questions about everything. We need to have discussions with teachers and other school officials in a way that is both respectful but also conveys our concerns or curiosities about anything that we want to know about. Ultimately, our children can only get everything that they need and deserve through us as parents advocating for them!
Giving in to your child's tantrum is not creating long term change. Kids learn that they should wine or throw a tantrum to get what they want, and it becomes a vicious cycle that gets harder and harder to get out of. To respond, we must first think about our child developmentally, regardless of their age. Where is their skill set? A lot of kids do not have the coping skills yet to de-escalate on their own. When a meltdown becomes more significant than the original issue, there are a few things that you should do.
Make sure the child is safe and won't hurt themselves or others and then give them space. Sometimes something snaps them out of it, or it could be a gradual process. However, if this doesn't happen, you can start to create contingencies for your child. Let them know that if they communicate with you in some way that they are ready, you can speak with them or sit by them.
When a child is upset or angry, they won't respond very well to a specific command telling them what to do so you can create a choice board for them to pick from. Ask them if they want to go for a walk? Get a drink of water? Lay in their bed?
Be nearby with your physical presence to let them know that you are here for them, even if you are not currently giving them attention.
Plan ahead of time or create a protocol for negative behaviors and write down the data. When our kids are so full of anxiety, fear, and out of control, it can often transfer to the parents. Write down their behaviors and what is different about each time. If something isn't working or getting better, you should think about doing something differently. Data can be a simple as how long a tantrum lasted or what initially caused it. Remember that every experience is a learning opportunity!
How to be your student's publicist.
A common problem across many schools and classrooms is the inclusion piece. You are in control of the narrative about your kids! People remember the bad stuff more than the positive things. There might be negative things that people see regarding your child's behavior, and other people, and teachers will remember that. It could be why inclusion isn't working. Talk about the good stuff that your kid can do. It can be easy to focus on the negative behaviors that your child displays, but you should try and play a different narrative in your head so that when you talk about your kid's other people can see how much they can do. Focus on the positive things that your child can accomplish because they are so amazing!
All behaviors are functioning to get something.
There are Four General Reasons Someone Shows Bad Behavior | SEAT
Sensory, Escape, Attention, and Tangible.
Remember that you need to Starve it and Replace it. If you want to make negative behaviors not work as well, you must remove attention. You want to starve the negative behavior and make it seem like it won't work or not as well, while simultaneously replacing it for a new and positive way of asking for and receiving something.
How do you empower parents to make sure that their school year is suitable for their children? How do you talk to the teachers?
Become very involved, and don't allow yourself to be worried about offending someone. You can be involved politely and respectfully! Ask a lot of questions, even if it seems annoying. Be there for your teacher and develop rapport. Make sure that s/he remembers who you are and the interest you have for your child's wellbeing. Don't be afraid of questioning anything you don't understand because no one else is as interested in your child's rights as much as you are!
Resources and links mentioned:
The Autism Helper Podcast: Episode 12 "Negotiating with Terrorists"
The Autism Helper Podcast: Episode 13 "Being your Student's Publicist"
The Autism Helper Podcast: Episode 19 "Old School Time-out vs. New school Time-away."
Sasha Long's Website: theautismhelper.com (Access ABC Data Sheets) https://theautismhelper.com/
wrightslaw.com (to learn what your kid is legally allowed to receive from school) https://www.wrightslaw.com/
Contact Info and Links for Sasha
Website: The Autism Helper
Blog: The Autism Helper Blog
Facebook: The Autism Helper Podcast
Jodys contact info