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Managing the behaviours of a person with autism

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How do you prevent or manage certain behaviours?

Here are ten tips on managing the behaviours of the autistic person you are caring for.

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Behaviours

The topic of behaviours is key when it comes to autism spectrum disorder:

  • In the ICD-10 classification, autism is defined according to the autistic triad. One of the three elements of this triad concerns limited interests and stereotyped behaviours;
  • In the DSM-5, autism is defined in terms of an autistic dyad, but the behaviours are described in much the same way as in ICD-10: behaviours and interests are limited and repetitive.

Limited, repetitive or stereotyped behaviours are self-regulatory strategies used by the individual, especially when the environment seems stressful, ever-changing or unpredictable.

The behavioural manifestations of individuals with autism affect their ability to receive adequate medical and psychiatric care throughout their lives, as do difficulties with communication.

Behaviours, interests and activities

The limited, repetitive and stereotyped nature of the activities, interests and behaviours is illustrated in this diagram from the Comprendre l’autisme [Understanding Autism, (in French only)] website, in its infographics on autism section (in French only).

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Ten tips for managing the behaviour of the person you are caring for

The limited behaviours, activities and interests of the person you are caring for impact their quality of life, as well as yours and those around you. You may feel the need to employ a few tips and tricks:

  1. Adjust to their pace. It takes longer to process information. Take your time, one piece of information at a time, one meaning at a time;
  2. Give preference to precise and concrete information;
  3. Use different means adapted to their abilities to communicate (pictograms, social scenarios);
  4. Emphasize their successes;
  5. Play down their limitations;
  6. Adapt and organize the environment in a supportive and safe manner;
  7. Establish a consistent pattern;
  8. Work on their interests and strengths;
  9. When faced with a persistent stereotypy, offer an alternative behaviour;
  10. Try to understand the situations in which the person you are caring for functions in their own way.

Take stock of the needs of both the person you are caring for and your own

From a medical standpoint, it is important to try to understand the causes and purposes of these behaviours through an assessment:

  • Contact the ID-PD-ASD access point in your area and ask about the Québec government’s Agir tôt program;
  • If you have concerns about your child’s development, consult a professional; early diagnosis is important;
  • The Office des personnes handicapées du Québec offers personalized assistance to people with disabilities, their families and those they care for at all stages of their access to services.

Questions and possible solutions

What might be some avenues of resolution for certain behaviours?

The profile of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder can vary greatly depending on the associated conditions, level of functioning, environment in which it occurs, age of onset of the types of manifestations, degree of severity, and degree of stimulation provided. Together with the person you are caring for, you can develop your own tips for managing behaviours.

From management to insertion

We suggest that you watch the documentary La belle différence (in French only), available in its entirety on Unis.tv; the film talks about differences, yes, but above all about authenticity, and this is a great help when you are worried about employment, activities and independent living for your child.

But what about my own behaviour?

As a caregiver, the help and support you provide to the person you care for is a mutual exchange and learning process. If the person you care for (or your child) is learning to manage their behaviour, so are you: you are learning from and with the care receiver. You can also broaden your knowledge and experience and get in touch with resources and services tailored to your needs.

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Mini glossary

It is a disease, not a condition. The nuance is important!

Comedian Louis T may be a comedian, but his vocabulary lesson may not always make you laugh.

  • “Living with ASD,” “suffering from ASD,” speaks for itself;
  • “Being autistic” is correct, it is as simple as that, as Louis T. reminds us. That is why we have taken the liberty of using this expression on this page!

Understanding the way autism spectrum disorder is named and the words that are used to describe it is already a step towards a better mutual understanding and social inclusion of autistic people. We all have a long way to go in this respect.

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