Learn How To Discipline An Autistic Child

Ranjeet KumarReviewed by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Sr. Audiologist, Speech Therapist & Cochlear Implant Specialist, BASLP on May 2nd, 2020 written by Editorial Team

Every child is afraid of the word discipline. But for adults, the word takes on a positive meaning. Discipline is both an action and a mindset. Discipline An Autistic Child is necessary.

With an appropriate discipline in children allows them to grow up to be disciplined adults. Therefore, guiding this term to children with autism in the right way can give long-term benefits.

If you need any assistance or have a question about Autistic Child, you can consult our HearingSol  experts with your problem, feel free to call us on +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

It can be difficult for a parent to decide the best way of managing their child’s unwanted behavior. Then have you ever thought how much it is difficult for an autistic child?

Being a parent of an autistic child, you must be familiar with the fact that discipline is more important than giving them punishment for “naughty” behavior.

About Autism?

Who is an autistic child? Children with autism are those who have trouble with communication and thus face social communication disorder.

It is really hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.

An autistic child may have repetitive body movements like- rocking or hand flapping. They may have unusual responses to people and attachments to objects etc.

Also, they may seem not to notice people, objects, activities in their surroundings. Discipline works best to deal with an autistic child if you have a warm and loving relationship with him.

Disciplining an autistic child

Symptoms Of Autism

Symptoms of autism mostly appear during the first three years of life. Some children show signs from their birth.

Others seem to develop normally at first, only to slip suddenly into symptoms when they are 18 to 36 months old. Autism is most common in boys than in girls. It knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries.

What Causes Autism?

Autism has distinct causes. It runs in families, the most analyst thinks that certain combinations of genes may affect a child to autism. But there are risk factors that increase the chance of having an autism child.

The advanced age of mother or father increases the chance of an autistic child. When a pregnant woman is unprotected from drugs or chemicals, her child is more likely to be autistic.

These risk factors include diabetes, obesity, use of alcohol, etc.

How Discipline Helps Children With Autism?

There are many children who misbehave at some point in their life. There perform many abnormal activities like hitting another child, grabbing a toy that is not meant for them.

In such situations, most parents and teachers respond with consequences like “time outs” or TV privileges loss, etc.

As a result, children learn that their behaviors are abnormal and unacceptable. They also learn that if they control their impulses, then it can have positive outcomes.

However, when a normal child would receive a timeout for something done by an autistic child.  Instead of a consequence, the later gets a “pass,” and that too with a comment such as “that’s ok, I understand”.

When the same thing happens to a child who can understand the rules of behavior, he learns that the rules are not at all applicable to him.

When it comes to the next time, he repeats the behavior expecting the same outcome and this continues.

How To Discipline An Autistic Child?

When a child misbehaves in any way whether it’s the matter of throwing a fuss or ignoring instructions, he usually gets some sort of punishment.

But, when a child suffering from autism, he completely needs a different approach to discipline.

It can be harder to implement discipline techniques while dealing with such children. But it doesn’t interpret that you shouldn’t use any discipline at all.

Instead, consistent strategies may act as the key to teach them how to manage their behavior.

Here are some discipline strategies for an autistic child:

1. Maintain Discipline

What the word ‘discipline’ indicates? Discipline is an art of learning how to behave. Reactions, preferences, and behavior vary for every child.

And thus, some of the children like to do one kind of activity while some prefer to do another one. Maintaining discipline in your child controls themselves.

This makes a transition from naughty behavior into constructive actions. Usually, children don’t follow rules all the time and are punished for this.

Autistic children shouldn’t get punished for expressing themselves. True discipline means having the self-control to fulfill your needs properly.

2. Be Gentle

When your child misbehaves, then usually you get frustrated. But you need to be gentle at this time. You must use different strategies so that your autistic child would easily learn how to behave in a better manner.

Remember that autistic children face challenges like sensory problems, communication problems, etc. So, it becomes frustrating and annoying.

Example: Suppose you are saying something to an autistic child. But he is looking at other directions. Now it does not mean that he is not listening.

3. Positive Thinking

In order to help your child, you need to add something linking positive words with the things of his choice. It’s true that discipline encourages correct behavior in your child. It depends upon how quickly you build up positive thinking and good behavior in your child.

4. Do Not Shout

Shouting at your child creates confusion for your child. This confusion may make them very restless. This makes them scream. Try not to be loud even you are very frustrated.

Why Discipline And Structure Are Important For Autistic Children?

Structure and discipline are two things that both normal and autistic children need to thrive. It is a lack of adult involvement in creating a safe world that frightens and overwhelms a child.

Though it is assumed that a child with autism can’t understand and follow guidelines or rules. But most of the autistic children are capable of obeying the basic rules of conduct.

Depending upon the circumstances, those rules may need to be modified.

What happens if a child is educated without the benefit of structure and discipline? Here is a high probability for him to suffer the negative consequences as he or she grows up.

Discipline Issues For Children With Autism

1. Behavior Difficulties

Traditional discipline doesn’t work for autistic children. They don’t know the consequences of their actions. Thus, they are punished by their parents for their worse behavior. It causes more distress for both parent and child.

  • Take your child out of the situation as soon as possible.
  • Find out the causes of such behavior in your child by using a behavior diary.

2. Obsessive Behaviour

Children with ASD often exhibit obsessive and repetitive characteristics that can have major implications for behavior.

  • You can set boundaries for the obsession. Just tell your child that they can discuss their obsession for some period of time like an hour after dinner time. They can schedule that into their routine.
  • Use the infatuation to reward your child for their good behavior.
  • Teach your child about social communication. It can be done by showing them that other people do not share their obsession.

3. Sleep Difficulties

Common issues that are extremely common in children with autism are sleep difficulties.

  • Make sure the room of your child is safe. So that he won’t get an injury on sharp corners or stairs if he wakes at night.
  • Try to find out why your child is having sleep problems. Is their room too hot, cold, or dark?
  • Use timetables and routines.
  • Read a social story about sleep and dreams with your child written by you over a few nights and weeks.

4. School Behavior

Children with ASD face difficulty mostly during lunch and free play time in school. They may not understand the rules during team sports.

They may not even properly interact socially with their classmates. Therefore, It will be helpful to put the structure in place for playtime.

  • Ask teachers to find other older children to play or talk to your child for one lunch.
  • Create a timetable for lunch and playtime for your child.


No doubt, disciplining a child is challenging for any parent. But every child must get some respect and support as represented by the clear structure, and consistent rules.

Thus, discipline is a powerful tool that can help a child with autism to understand his world if used efficiently with some flexibility and patience. It’s important for him to feel safe and confident as he grows up.

If you need any assistance or have a question about Autistic Child, you can consult our HearingSol  experts with your problem, feel free to call us on +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

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