Did you know that more than a quarter of children with autism spectrum disorder are also diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders? Studies have identified a possible biological cause: a key mechanism that regulates emotion functions differently in the brains of the children who exhibit disruptive behavior. This scientific discovery has helped scientist uncover biological connections behind behavioral issues in teens on the spectrum. Parenting a defiant teen on the spectrum can lead to many challenges at home. This can include:
- Begging to get your teen to respond to simple requests
- Getting pulled into pointless, never-ending arguments
- Energy-sucking power struggles that ruin the whole evening
- Feeling powerless and stress-out because nothing you say to your teen gets through
Managing Outbursts in Defiant Teens on the Spectrum
As a parent there are ways you can help defiant teens on the spectrum manage their outbursts and create a healthier relationship between you and them. Here are some strategies that have been tried and had either little or no effect on defiant teens:
- Trying to “reason” with the child
- Having heart-to-heart talks
- “Confronting” the child or being assertive
- Taking away privileges
- Trying to be a nicer parent
- Trying to be a tougher parent
- “Giving in” and letting the child have his way
- Verbal warnings
- Ignoring misbehavior
- Having the child go live with his other parent (if parents are separated or divorced)
- Having another family member “talk to” or attempt to “mentor” the child
- Threatening to send the child away to a juvenile facility
- Threatening to call the police
These are considered “typical disciplinary” measures used by parents. Teens on the spectrum may seem unphased by these methods. Instead, you should develop a plan that is tailored to your child’s specific struggles to prepare yourself to deal with defiant behavior.
Ditching Defiant Behavior
The motivation behind ditching defiant behavior should be to help your child handle tough situations and emotions in a reasonable manner. This will be important especially as they grow into adults. The things you should strive for in helping your defiant teen on the spectrum include the following:
- Be your teen’s best advocate
- Help her comply with rules and expectations
- Help him learn positive ways to “work with” his differences — not to “fight” them
- Learn the specifics of teen Aspergers/HFA behavior and how to keep it in perspective
- Look at mistakes as lessons — not as major set-backs
- Re-evaluate your expectations
- Take your power back as the parent
- Tune-in to who your child genuinely is — not what the stereotypical child is (based on social beliefs)
- Cope with your Aspergers or HFA teen’s difficult and aggressive behaviors
- Understand what is really going on inside her head
- Help your teen cope better in the community and at school
- Keep the peace at home with the rest of the family
- Greatly improve your child’s self-esteem, because “special needs” teens with low self-esteem have very little – or no – motivation to change behavior
Discover Seven Stars can help
Seven Stars is a small treatment program for young men and women ages 13-17 struggling with Autism-related issues. The program provides acute care stabilization, residential treatment, academic programs, adventure-based therapy, skill building, and positive psychology. These various programs and therapies help students to improve their confidence, self-awareness, and personal management.
Seven Stars provides students with individualized access to the resources they need to transition to the real-world practicing healthier habits and self-control. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 844-601-1167
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.