How to discipline a high functioning Autistic child

How to discipline a high functioning Autistic child

Last updated on August 11th, 2023 at 10:07 pm

Understanding High Functioning Autism

As you are probably of, there are different degrees of Autistic behaviors.  The degrees of these behaviors are studied in a spectrum, from the mildest to the most severe. High functioning autism is a type of autism that borders heavily along with non-existent communication and social interaction.

To fully grasp the means of dealing with children that fall into this part of the spectrum, a concise overview of the condition is pertinent.  This type of autism is also referred to as Asperger’s syndrome.

Autism as a broad concept refers to individuals who suffer from an inability to communicate and make social interactions. The distinctive trait of individuals of kids that suffer from high functioning autism is high intelligence and excellent verbal aptitude.

Essentially, these individuals are capable of highly intelligent thoughts (most times, pretty much above the average human), speaking, and logical thoughts.

However, they have difficulties establishing communication or forming a bond.  Therefore, while children on the other end of the spectrum may not possess any exceptional potential intelligence and verbal skills, high-functioning autistic children do not.

Signs of High Functioning Autism In Kids

Aside from the above-described trait, other signs characterize high functioning autistic kids;

They Stick Strictly To Routines

A child that suffers from high functioning is keen to develop routines – as determined by the immediate circumstances. After establishing a specific sequence of activities, these kids stick to them and would not derail for any reason. However, it messes with their thought processes and communication when these kids are unavoidably unable to follow their known routines. In extreme cases, such kids are never productive outside the said routines. The kid may even fall ill and develop a high fever when they cannot stick to the routines.

They are often averse to change

As expected of someone who is used to routines, kids with high functioning autism are no fan of changes. It becomes increasingly difficult to make them change – even the minutest thing – once they are comfortable. For instance, a high-functioning autistic kid would be disturbed if someone takes their seat at the dining table. They develop certain connections to the unexpected of things like dishes, brushes, houses, and even clothes.  Changes made for these children are most likely to generate an outburst of anger and similar volatile emotions.

They may suffer sensory difficulties

of course; autism is a neurological and mental (or let’s say psychological) condition.  Due to alteration of the anatomy of specific nerves of their body, these kids may have difficulty processing certain stimuli like pain and pressure. These kids also feel very uneasy (and disruptively so) at certain tastes, smells, or sounds. For instance, a child with high functioning autism may intensely dislike certain kinds of music.

They are often very Sensitive to emotions

Emotional sensitivity is quite common to several conditions across the autism spectrum. Kids with high-functioning autism are susceptible to slight reactions. These kids also have a problem controlling their emotions, and in extreme cases, they require high-level therapy to keep the effects of emotional roller-coasters in check.  For instance, a high-functioning autistic kid may get irritable because his favorite TV show is not hosted on certain days. They are predisposed to more intense emotional reactions in the face of frustrating situations.

They experience difficulty in social interactions

Like all other conditions on the autism spectrum, high functioning autism is characterized by an almost non-existent social life. These kids – quite unlike other autistic – may develop a social circle. However, these social circles happen to be very small. They generally don’t perform well in social structures like groups and teams.

High-functioning autistic children have issues sharing toys and play materials. They have problems with learning with other kids; it always feels like the others are intruding in their personal space. Summarily, they are shy and often misunderstood as unfriendly, snobbish, and challenging by most people.

They are easily obsessed with people, things, or subjects 

Despite the difficulty these kids have in forming bonds, they quickly get obsessed with anything or anybody they are attached to. These kids are found to be repetitive about particular subject matters that they are interested in. They discuss the same thing, person, and place over and over again.

This sign usually creates problems for parents; their obsession and unwillingness to share makes them clingy and always call for attention. They are prone to getting jealous of a sibling that gets the attention of the parent at a given time.

They focus solely on themselves

These kids turn out to be very egocentric. Since they have issues with social interactions, they often develop a deep sense of individualism. They are most times concerned about what happens to them only irrespective of whichever other person. In the situation where a high-functioning autistic child gets to talk, he is often self-centered in his conversations, demands, and even discussion pace.  For instance, if a high-functioning autistic child is in the situation to share a snack with others, they may take what they consider a fair share without thinking twice about the other kids.

They May Have Unusual Movement Pattern

This is common in children with Asperger’s syndrome. If you notice a slightly paranormal pattern of walking, eating, running, etcetera in your child, he may likely have high functioning autism. This is especially true if the movement mentioned above pattern is not due to any physical defect.

How to discipline a high functioning autistic child

Having understood the distinct traits associated with high functioning autism in children, here are some methods of dealing with them. Before that, it is important to state that the reward system may not always work with these kids. Sometimes, parents need to be assertive and firm enough to make the children learn consequences.

Despite that, you have to be careful not to trigger severe withdrawal and emotional trauma in these kids (you know, this is High functioning autism you are dealing with). So how do you deal with that? Let us find out.

Be sure to distinguish between tantrums and the actual sign of autism – This is the very first step you should take. That doesn’t mean it is easy, though. First, you have to be careful to recognize when your child is just silly and when they are showing signs of autism. True, the child is autistic, but deep down, they are still a child.

Go one at a time – You must remember that you can correct everything at once; that is unrealistic. To effectively discipline a high-functioning autistic child, you have to recognize and highlight their quirks, misdeeds, and imperfections. You should then proceed to handle them one at a time.  Trying to solve all the problems at once can create an emotional disconnection between you and the child. It would look like you are against the kid; therefore, be careful.

You have to be clear of rules and expectations – Clarity of rules and expectations is like playing to the nature of the child. However, you have to make sure that these rules are flexible enough for the child to reason with. Let the child understand what he is meant to do and what he is intended not to do.

Also, explain why he can do certain things and why he cannot do others. The clearer the expectations, the easier it is for high-functioning autistic children to meet them.

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