Autism and Discipline: How do you manage?

Disciplining your kids can be tough for parents sometimes. But what if your child has Autism? Navigating the world of Autism is like trying to put one of those generic puzzles with no picture together. You are often times flying blind. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt lost and defeated.

In our case with Gavin, he is a quagmire wrapped inside an enigma. He has so many other mental health issues that it really makes things difficult. How do you hold him accountable? What are the standards and are they set to high or to low? What is he actually capable of doing? These are all questions my wife and I have asked for years. Just when we think we have it figured out we realize things like, he has been playing us.

One thing about Gavin is he’s truly gifted in the art of manipulation. I really mean that. He’s that good. Unless we always assume he’s playing us it’s all but impossible to tell the difference. I bet so many of you out there know what I talking about. Should we always assume he’s up to something because that feels wrong? How far is to far to push when there are no clearly defined limits?

I long for the day I go to the mail box and find the instruction manual for Gavin has finally arrived.


Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Stuart Duncan

We give our son no special pass and pretty much expect the same out of him as if he didn't have Autism. Hitting, screaming… he gets the same punishment.
What really gets me is when he's off the handle and I'm giving him time outs or sending to his room and then later find out that his school changed a rather large routine on him, or someone gave him a cookie which they shouldn't have.
Then it's not until later that I see that he was going crazy for a reason, it wasn't really his fault. That's when I feel rather guilty about holding him accountable.
Still though, I can't let him off the hook or treat him differently when he's doing something wrong for fear of there being a reason behind it.

However, I think a huge thing that's changed for me, on account of his Autism, is my patience level. I still get mad that he's done something but I am way more capable of sitting him down and talking to him despite his tantrums and screaming and such. I can usually find a way through it and make him understand what he's doing wrong, which never would have happened in the past… I've often had parents tell me that they'd never have handled something the way I did.

So far the only thing I've found that has worked with discipline and everything else, is patience. Finding out the cause, explaining what was wrong, waiting out the tantrums, getting the message across despite everything… everything is a matter of having way more patience then I ever thought possible.