While the Son-Rise Program believes in giving as much control as possible to our children on the Autism Spectrum, this is also done with common sense. We would not let a child hurt himself, or destroy things in the name of giving control. So how can you lovingly set boundaries with your children?
Two principles that will help.
1. Be clear yourself, and then clear to your child what your boundaries are. Here at The Autism Treatment Center of America, our boundaries are:
- We would not let a child hurt himself or others.
- Do anything that could be harmful to their health, like putting their hands down the toilet and then in their mouth.
- Destroying things, like ripping books etc.
Before you set a boundary explain in detail to your child what the boundary is and why you have set it. For instance if your child wanted to do something that was potentially harmful to themselves like putting their hands down the toilet, explain why we do not want them to do that. You might say something like,
“The toilet water is full of germs, so I am taking your hands out of the toilet so that you do not get sick.” Do this with a loving and calm tone, communicating to your child that we are loving them and taking care of them. This helps our children to understand the reasons and know that we are taking care of them, not punishing them.
2. Give an alternative. This is very important, we want to show our children what they can do instead. For instance if a child wants to put their hands down the toilet, we might offer them a bowl of clean water to put their hands in instead. Or offer them the chance to put their hands underneath a running tap. They can see that we are taking care of them, and offering them a safe alternative to want they were seeking. We then become their friends, and they can seek the healthy option next time.
If your child likes to rip books, after explaining to them that we want to keep the books whole so that they can enjoy them later, we can offer our child some paper to rip instead. That way we can keep the books intact and our children can do the act they were seeking.
Have fun setting clear and loving boundaries with your children.
Love to you all