Behaviour Management and ASD

Lately, it feels like all we do is nag, redirect, yell and argue in our house. Know that feeling? Being on the Autism Spectrum, both boys are sensitive to mood referral. They often respond to negative vibes from those around them. I call it the “meet and beat” phenomena. Wherever I’m at emotionally, they will meet me there and then take it one step further (beat)! Strong emotions, yelling and arguing therefore really spell disaster in our home.

I decided that we needed to try something different so I pulled out all my books on behaviour management and discipline. 1-2-3-Magic by Thomas Phelan is often recommended to ASD families as being an effective management system. It is simple to follow and easy to implement.

1 2 3 magic

After re-reading the book again and pulling out the key points, we started the program yesterday. This book suggests that as parents we have three jobs:

  1. Controlling obnoxious behaviour
  2. Encouraging good behaviour
  3. Strengthening your relationship with your child

It says that the two biggest discipline mistakes we can make are talking too much and becoming too emotional in our responses to our children’s behaviour. We really do tend to over-talk as parents don’t we? And let’s be honest, keeping your cool is extremely difficult!


So how do you do 1-2-3 Magic? In essence – if your child is not behaving appropriately you say: “Fred – that’s 1!” Wait 5 seconds. If the behaviour continues then you say, “Fred – that’s 2!” Again, wait 5 seconds. If the behaviour still continues, you then say, “Fred – that’s 3! Take 5!”

At this point the child should be removed to their room or to a chair in a specific spot for approximately 5 minutes or one minute per year of age. If they won’t go you escort them there giving no eye contact and saying nothing. Once their time is up, you say “Time’s up!” and the child can leave their room.

The program states there should be no further conversation about the misbehaviour. This is the one aspect of the program I’m unsure about with my boys. I think they may need a quick restorative chat so that they can apologise, and so we can explicitly say we forgive them and that we still love them. We may add this step in if it becomes necessary.

It’s only day 2 but already the whining and the attempts at negotiating every point are reducing. We are calmer and therefore so are they. The boys understand how the system works and the tight boundaries of it are reassuring to them, I think. The success of any behaviour management system is sticking with it, being consistent and not deviating from the system. Will keep you posted 😀

One thought on “Behaviour Management and ASD

  1. Sorry Libby – reading your posts and meant to send this to my sister – I think the program would help with her littlest – she just needs to hear from someone other than family that it can work :-)Love reading your postsxx

    Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:07:48 +0000 To:

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