Addressing Behavioral  Challenges In Children With Autism

The other day I  was trying to clear out some work at home & my two-year-old son was running around the house like a maniac, screaming at the top of his lungs. I was getting so frustrated, and I just wanted him to stop. I realized I had to take a few steps back & figure out how to address this behavioral challenge more constructively. After all, my son is not purposely trying to drive me crazy. He’s just acting out of instinct. So, I took a deep breath & calmed myself down. Then, I sat on the floor and started playing with my son. We built towers out of blocks, drove toy cars around, laughed & had a blast of a time. Eventually, he got lost in the moment & forgot all about his last tantrum. It was a relief and recreation for both of us! I went from the brink of losing my cool to enjoying quality time with my son and even finishing up my work peacefully. I brought up this story because it’s important to remember that autistic children are like any other children but learn and communicate differently. With patience & understanding, you can find ways to address the challenges and help your child thrive. Let’s dive in and explore some more specific ways to do this.


Remove potential triggers

I know you’ve probably heard this a million times before, but that’s because it’s true; removing potential triggers is one of the most important things you can do to help reduce problem behaviors in autistic children. Triggers can be anything from a screeching sound to an abrupt change in routine. Let me explain how this works with a brief story. My son is susceptible to sound, and one thing that triggered his problem behavior was the sound of the vacuum cleaner. Just the sound of it running would send him into a tailspin. So, I started running the vacuum cleaner while he was napping. This way, he was used to the sound when he woke up, and it didn’t bother him as much. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it’s worth considering if you think a trigger might be at play. You can also try to remove potential triggers from your child’s environment altogether. If a specific toy seems to cause problems, get rid of it. If there’s a place that your child doesn’t like to be, try to avoid it. Reducing potential triggers can go a long way in helping to reduce problem behaviors.

Introduce new meals gradually

I thought I’d share a tip for parents struggling to help their autistic children eat a more varied diet. I mean, there’s a lot of talk about the importance of a healthy diet, but it can be tough to get a toddler with autism to try new foods, right? I’m sure you’ve probably tried everything from bribing to cajoling, but nothing seems to work. I have a tip that might help; introduce new meals gradually. Start by adding just a bit of the veggie to your child’s plate if they eat it; great! If not, that’s okay too. Add more greens each week until your child eats the whole serving. It might take a while, but this gradual approach is often more successful than getting your child to eat an entirely new food all at once. Again if you let them stick to junky foods all the time, it can lead to severe complications like a poor immune system, digestive problems, and weight gain.



I first heard about floor time when I read a book about occupational therapists. In the book, the author emphasizes how important it is to get down on the floor and play with your child. This was a lightbulb moment because I realized I had ignored my son’s invitations to play. I was always too engaged with other things and told him to play alone. But the truth is that autistic children often need more help than other children regarding playing. They might not know how to initiate or sustain a game and need help understanding social cues. That’s where floor time comes in. Floor time is about getting down on the floor and playing with your child. It’s about following and letting them take the lead in the play. And your job is to provide the support they need to engage in the play and complement their efforts. I recommend starting with just 10 minutes of daily floor time and seeing how it goes. Use some colored blocks or jigsaw puzzles to help get things started. But remember that the rule is to follow your child’s lead and have fun!

Visual supports

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve heard of the term visual support several times before, and I’m fed up with it.” Well,  I’m sorry that you’ll hear it again because visual supports are essential for autistic children. Let me explain why. According to research, autistic children are more likely to respond to visual information than verbal information. Van Gogh was autistic, and if you look at his paintings, they are very visual. There is a lot of color and images of light, and the images are quite brilliant. I think this is because he was processing information visually. So, when we use visual support with autistic children, we use their strengths to help them communicate. You can use all sorts of visual supports, from picture cards to social stories. Just find what works the best for your little one & go with it. How about you try using a rainbow squirt game to get them to relax while having fun? It’s still visual support and much more fun than just being bored. So, how does it work?

First, you’ll need to compile a few supplies. You’ll need a squirt gun, food coloring, and a whiteboard or piece of paper. Fill each squirt gun with a different color of food coloring and add water. Now invite the child over to the whiteboard or paper. Show them how to shoot the different colors onto the canvas (whiteboard) , and that’s all. No rules, no correct way of doing it, and just letting them have fun and experiment with the colors. And if they create a mess, that’s okay too! They might paint a random picture or shoot the colors all over the place. It doesn’t matter. The essential thing is that they’re having fun and getting used to the visual and sensory accomplishments, especially during this summer when they can play out in nature.

Hopefully, these tips will help you deal with behavioral challenges your child might face. Remember to be patient, have fun, and go with the flow! Thanks for reading.


Autism speak. (2022). Visual support and Autism. Retrieved from;

Patrice Logan, Parent of a Child with Autism

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