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How can I help my autistic son with his disruptive behaviors?


​​How do I effectively communicate with my autistic son how his disruptive behaviors can cause disturbance in the home and at school? When speaking to him, it is always a back-and-forth battle and he uses manipulative behaviors to avoid the lecture/talk.


Boys Town - Autism

Thank you for reaching out to the Boys Town Hotline today. Parenting is not easy, especially when communication does not seem effective. That is great you are reaching out for help today! It sounds like you just want what is best for your son. 

Effective communication is so important in the parent/child relationship. It is great that you want to talk with your son about how his behaviors cause reactions at both home and school. The way you communicate this information to your son will be dependent on his age, the severity of his behaviors and his capability to understand what you are saying. This is not always a fun conversation to have, so that is likely why your son is trying to avoid these talks with you. If you have not already, you may want to connect with your son's school to see what support they can provide.

Reading through this blog may help you get prepared to have the conversation with your son: One suggestion you can try to implement is being very clear with your son and “to the point." Try to avoid bringing any emotions into the conversation and stick with the facts. Remember to use words that he understands so that it makes sense to him what you are saying. It may also help to give your son a warning or prompt that his behaviors are beginning to cause disruption.

For example, you can say to your son, “When you become angry and throw your book in the classroom, it distracts the other children from learning. Instead of throwing your book, you could raise your hand and ask the teacher to go out into the hallway for 3 minutes to calm down." After you have clearly stated what the negative behaviors are and how he can change these behaviors, practice with him. For example, you can say to your son, “Okay, now that you know what to do next time you are getting upset, lets practice." It may help to first practice by you “pretending" to be your son and your son “pretending" to be the teacher. This way, your son can see what he needs to be doing next time he gets angry. After you finish that practice, you can switch roles. You are now the teacher and your son will be himself. He will then get the experience of actually following through with these new, positive behaviors that he can implement when he is in the classroom. You can also use this technique with the behaviors that are disruptive at home. Practice by having him be the parent first and you model what his behavior should look like, then switch roles again. By practicing and “pretending," your son may be more interested in learning the positive behaviors because it is not just a lecture. 

Another connection you may want to make is with the National Autism Association. You can reach them at 877-622-2884. Maybe try calling them before you have this conversation with your son to see what support and suggestions they can provide as they are specialists in autism. They likely have some great tips and suggestions that you can implement to make this easier on both yourself and your son!

Hopefully these suggestions point you in the right direction on what to do next. If you feel comfortable talking with one of our Crisis Counselors, please call us at any time at 1-800-448-3000. Crisis Counselors are available 24/7 to provide whatever support or guidance possible.