How do I set limits or discipline my child with autism?


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Discussion: “What if you’re in a situation where you need to set a limit?” asks Dr. Greenspan. With Floortime, it’s very important for limit setting to take place under the umbrella of calm, back and forth interaction.

“The child with autism should learn in a negotiated way,” reminds Dr. Greenspan. The ideal way to set limits using Floortime is in a situation where you have time and you can interact with the child around the limit. You can give the child an alternative, or negotiate, and it’s done calmly together.

But, notes Dr. Greenspan, there are situations where you have to operate quickly, like if the child with autism is about to run into the street or hurt himself. “There, you’re going to awaken catastrophic affects, but then you’re going to try to soothe the child and bring him back into co-modulated interaction and talk about it quickly,” advises Dr. Greenspan. Do it in as nice a way as possible, soothe, and if it’s an autistic child who is verbal, talk about it. If it’s not a verbal child, get the child back into regulated Floortime interaction. Then, try to practice that situation in an interactive way so you’re not caught in that catastrophic mode again.