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The Key is Understanding Your Child’s Behaviour!

The Key is understanding your child's behaviour


The key is understanding your child’s behaviour!

So many parent’s say “I don’t know how to stop my child’s behaviours.”  They go on to explain their child’s behaviours in great detail.  However, the actual behaviour is not important.  The key is understanding your child’s behaviours. A lot of parent’s get stumped when I say this because they are simply focused about the behaviours.

To help parent’s to understand their child’s behaviours, I ask them to talk about an example for a particular challenging behaviour.  The parent then goes into detail of the behaviour the child displayed.  I then ask what happened before the behaviour occurred.  The common answer is “I do not know” or “it happened for no reason”.  I probe with more questions to narrow it down for instance was it a request that you gave them? Did you tell the child to do something?  Were they playing a game?  Was it a sensory issue? As the percentage of families have children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, it is extremely important to look at the sensory areas because some behaviours can be caused due to a sensory issue.  However even with families that do not have a child with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder, it is still important to look at the sensory areas because the child may have mild issues that they are unaware of.

The key is understanding your child’s behaviours from a cognitive sense.  If we look at a scenario of a child expressing challenging behaviour when receiving an instruction it is important to look at the whole picture from a cognitive angle.  The majority of behaviours are due to lacking of skills.  The major areas, which then are broken down into smaller steps, are flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving.  If your child is having difficulties in these areas, it is important that behaviour strategies support your child to move through these challenges without the unwanted behaviours.

Conventional methods of behaviour management does not work for all children and just with that thought it can be extremely challenging.  I thoroughly enjoy working with families to assist with parent’s to help their children to reduce these behaviours as it will improve their families overall well being.

Your child can be successful but at this moment they do not have the skills to be successful.  The key is understanding your child’s behaviour.  If you want to know more check out my Challenging Behaviour Busting program.



Challenging Children and Frustration Tolerance

Frustration tolerance

Do you have a challenging child and frustration tolerance?

Behaviourally challenging children need us to take a close look at our beliefs about challenging behaviours and apply strategies that are often a far cry from ways in which most adults interact with and discipline children who are not behaviourally challenging.

As an applied behaviour analyst therapist, we learnt that there is always a reason for their behaviour and that you had to understand what was the antecedent (the cause) of the behaviour.  Ross Greene also states that “behaviourally challenging children are challenging because they are lacking the skills to not be challenging” (Ross, G.  The Explosive Child).

One of the skills that challenging children lack is frustration tolerance.  Challenging behaviour occurs when the demands being placed upon a child outstrip the skills he/she has to respond to.

What is Frustration?

Frustration is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get frustrated, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and nor-adrenaline.

Frustration can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be frustrated at a specific person (such as a co-worker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a cancelled flight), or your frustration could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger feelings of frustration.
The instinctive, natural way to express frustration is to respond aggressively. Frustration is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviours, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of frustration, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our frustration can take us.
Children and adults use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their feelings of frustration. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your feelings of frustration in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express frustration. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Frustration can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your frustration, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your frustration and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The frustration in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your frustration can turn inward—on yourself. Frustration turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Unexpressed frustration can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of frustration, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. Children and adults who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their frustration. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.
Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
Frustration for individuals of all stages on the Spectrum and Sensory Processing Disorder can be triggered in so many different ways it is extremely important for parents’ to stop focusing on the actual behaviours and work out what the difficulties are so that they can solve the unsolved problems.   By doing this, not only will unsolved problems be solved but your child will increase their frustration tolerance level and the challenging behaviours will decrease.
Frustration tolerance can be improved with the following strategies:
  • relaxation
  • body regulation
  • deep breathing
  • visualizations
  • changing your thinking
  • problem solving
  • better communication
  • using humour
  • changing environments
  • body mapping

How Do YOU Connect With Your Children?

Mother Holding Child's Hand How do you connect with your children?


Remember the last time you had your child’s hand in your hand like this.  Was it today…………….a month………a year?

I know when I hold Grace’s and Emma’s hands I feel a buzz run through me, even what I am feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of life.  It is also a reminder that they need me.  I am sure when they are teenagers, they probably won’t want me to hold their hands.  I can hear it already “it isn’t cool mum to hold your hand.”

As children grow and develop it is important for parents to find new ways of connecting with their children.  Children at every age need love, affection, comfort and guidance.  They need safety and protection which in the early years may mean that we need to block them from blindly running across the streets. But later we may need techniques for handling a bully at school, or knowing how to say no to friends and what to do when they feel anxiety.  They need understanding when they make mistakes and sympathy when they come hurting.  They need tolerance when their hormones make them crazy and our limit setting when they make poor decisions.

The goal is to find time to engage and connect at your child’s current level.  What will you do to connect with your child?

No matter if your child is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder there are always ways to connect.


Autism and Eye Contact

therapist and child playingLately I have been reading a lot of discussion about Autism and eye contact and during Emma’s Occupational Therapy it reminded me of this discussion.  Emma’s therapist was trying to explain the game of dominos.  Emma was sitting there with little expression and also not responding.  I asked Emma if she understood and her therapist prompted her to “ask for help”.  Emma started moving in her seat and did not respond verbally with the prompt.  I knew that Emma finds it quite confronting, even with Steve and I, to ask for help so I was interested to see what would happen next.  The therapist then said to Emma that she does not have to look in her eyes but just to look somewhere near her face.  With that suggestion Emma looked and asked for help.

This interaction reminded me about a post I say on Autism Discussion Page about eye contact.  I know for Emma eye contact causes anxiety and there has been some recent discussion about why we really prompt a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to make eye contact if it makes the person feel vulnerable?  Yes it is a “social” cue that we all learn but is it necessary?

Bill Mason discussion about Prompting Eye Contact is:

The best way to induce anxiety in children with autism is to prompt them to look at you. When many children are trying to listen to what you are saying, prompting them to look at your eyes will make them anxious and interfere with them being able to listen to you. There are three primary reasons for this:

1. Many children have auditory processing problems. Research has shown that people on the spectrum often look at your month. This would make since if they need to look at your month to better understand what you are saying.

2. Some children use peripheral vision to view things. For them, direct vision is too intense and overwhelming, so they look with their peripheral vision. When they are looking at you, they will appear to be looking away from you.

3. Many adults on the spectrum have told me that they become overwhelmed by the intensity of looking directly into your eyes. It feels very intimidating, very scary.

So forcing a child to look at you is not increasing their understanding, but often inhibiting it. It totally overwhelms and distracts them.

Like most all of us, looking at someone is much easier when we do it under our own volition. It is intimidating when someone prompts us to look at them. Same goes for all communication. We have found that children with ASD will look at you more frequently when indirectly invited to, not told to. Use the following tips and you find the child looking at you more often:

1. When talking to the child, position yourself so you are in front of him and at eye level. When your face is in his field of vision, it will get his attention better.

2. Use less words and more nonverbal language when communicating. Use more animated facial expressions, and exaggerated gestures to communicate. This invites the child to reference your face to obtain the information needed. Use words to augment your nonverbal language; while conveying most of information nonverbally. I animate my facial expressions which draws their attention.

3. When the child stops referencing you, try pausing briefly until he attention returns. Often the break in the interaction invites the child to check back with you to repair the breakdown.

So invite facial referencing, do not demand eye contact. And please do not grab and turn their face to you.

What is your thoughts about getting individuals with autism to make eye contact?

Can I Make a Bargain With You?

How many times have you said to yourself “I would do anything for me to have autism and not my child. Why can’t it be me?”  I know I have said it numerous times especially at the start.  This is usually the bargain grief stage is the next stage after anger for parents when dealing with the grief cycle.

Several themes emerge as parents travel the road to acceptance.  Initially they struggle with the symptoms of autism.  Time stops as parents initially become very upset with their child’s difficulties and then they begin the protected journey of putting together the appropriate interventions.

However, at this stage parents hope for a way out, find a cure.  They tend to bargain with high powers to take the diagnosis away from the child in place on inflicting pain on themselves.

If you are stuck in the bargaining part of the grief cycle or simply want to talk to someone who understand, please do not hesitate to contact me on  Sometimes it is easier to talk to some who understands.

I am Filled With Anger!

No having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is not fair and after diagnosis we can feel angry about it.  This is usually the next step after denial.

As a parent’s denial fades, anger arises that his or her child’s condition may not improve significantly.  The emotion of anger could cause the parent to blame the doctor for making the diagnosis, blame your wife or ourselves for doing something “wrong” during the pregnancy.  Some people go through a spiritual crisis and feel that they have caused this to happen because they may not have prayed enough.  People can be angry towards everyone for this new journey which makes it had for all involved to cope.  Sadly some people let the anger control them and they turn to physical means of showing this anger.

The anger will not last and there has to become the time when you need to let the anger go.  It is hard but the more we stay angry the less we are able to function properly.  It will also hinder the relationship with your child.  Do not give up on your child because they need you to help them have a bright future.

If you are reading this and are in this stage of anger and you want to talk to someone who is outside the picture, please email me on as I am more than happy to be that ear.  Any dads who are reading this and are stuck in the place please reach out through email as I am more than happy to listen.


I Can Not Get My Head Around The Diagnosis

It is extremely important the realise that no matter if you were expecting a diagnosis or not that we all go through a grief cycle.  The first part of this grief cycle is denial.

The function of denial for the majority of us is that is creates a necessary buffer zone as it takes us time to deal with a new reality.  Feeling a reaction of denial is perfectly normal and healthy.

The function of denial is that it makes the pain bearable until we find our inner strength to move on and find the supports to help us.

If you need to talk to someone about how you are feeling in this stage, please do not hesitate to contact me through email  I am here for you as this is not easy.

Tomorrow I will put up a post about anger.

Autism and Alternative Treatments

I am so excited to share with you how the lives of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Essential Oils may help them in their daily lives.  I was introduced by a friend and she was told about them from a client who uses these oils on her children with ASD.  I was sceptic about them but I thought why not.

We have been using the oils for a month now and although we saw improvements within the first week my eldest said to me today “mummy I have been happy all day”.  I do not put it down to anything that has happened as school holidays are tough with the change of routine and we have had a running around day.  I really do believe it is the oils.

I have been using Vetiver, Frankincense and a grounding blend on her in the morning. By the afternoon I would put some more of the grounding blend to help her recover from the day and then at night I use a soothing blend.  We are finding she is waking up better.  Meltdowns have reduced in intensity and occurrence and she is sleeping better and more often in her own bed.

My youngest is not a fan of the oils on her with her sensory processing disorder, so I have been diffusing the oils and found that she is calmer.

If you want some information clink on this link about essential oils that may be helpful.   If you want to email me with any questions, please do not hesitate on  If you want to talk about the oils feel free to call me on (061) 0409 191 740.


How Do I Find Help For My Child With Autism?

I remember when Grace was diagnosed with Autism we were put on the path of finding what therapy she needed.  For me I was slightly aware from my experience with autism spectrum disorder.  However, there was numerous nights where I sat crying to Steve about how hard it was not knowing if we were really doing the right thing.  But it wasn’t until I walked into Keilor Park Preschool, where the lovely teachers who were well trained in special needs realised we were struggling with it all, helped me link properly into services.

Amaze Victoria has a wonderful website which is essential for families to look at to help navigate the different types of therapy on TherapyConnect.  I really recommend families with children on the autism spectrum disorder to have a look.