What should a parent keep in mind when it comes to discipline and children with autism? What about children with learning disabilities?

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    Maybe you want to define what you mean by discipline. Are you talking strictly about punishment, or are you talking about discipline in the sense of "train up a child in the way he should go" which is far broader than punishment for wrong actions? Also you may want to clarify how your Christian beliefs relate to your question - Christianity may impact what you want to teach your child, but you haven't clarified how here. – justkt Dec 27 '12 at 20:48
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    As some one who worked at a school for kids with a variety of social, behavioral, and learning disabilities I'd have to say it depends greatly on the specific disability, goal for behavior, age and for Autism (and other disabilities with spectra of ability), the age and level of functioning is also significant. Can you be more specific? This question is too broad as it is stated now. Whole books are written on this topic for single disabilities alone. I'd love to help with more specifics. – balanced mama Dec 28 '12 at 16:41
  • @justkt Yes, I'm speaking of Proverbs 22:6 which you quoted: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" As a Christian, I believe discipline is more than just punishment for wrong actions. I believe that wrongful actions are sin and deserve to be punished but in the same light, God is gracious to forgive sins if one believes in Him. – Christopher Chipps Dec 31 '12 at 4:34
  • I have to agree this is overly broad. If you can edit this to indicate specifically what you are asking (from the perspective of what you mean regarding "special needs" or "discipline"), we can reopen, but I'm going to support the other users who have voted to close for now. – user420 Jan 28 '13 at 15:16

It's important to understant the developmental progress of a child so that you can be sure to set appropriate expectations. For example it's not appropriate to expect a child with the developmental capacity of a 2 year old to sit still or be quiet. Talk with your doctor about the behavioral, emotional, adaptive, linguistic, and motor development of the child so that you can be sure what kind of behavior would be reasonable to expect. Know the child's developmental age.

Timeouts work for most children over age 18 months, with 1 minute per year of developmental age. For example, if the child has the mental capacity of a 6 year old, they would get 6 minutes of time out. Check out the link for how to do a time out.

The key is to be consistent.


You discipline them the same as your other kids. Some techniques work better than others, but that's true of any child, and you can't generalize what techniques do or don't work to all special needs children. Mostly what you change is your expectations. Things take a lot longer to learn and you have to cut them extra slack.

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    So are you saying discipline them the same, or are you saying cut them some extra slack? – balanced mama Dec 28 '12 at 16:40
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    What I'm saying is there's no magic system of rewards and punishments that only work on kids with special needs. You use the same types of punishments and rewards, but set the rules appropriately lower. My 8 year old with cerebral palsy has approximately the same rules as her 3 year old sister, except for chores like cleaning up toys she can't do because she is physically unable. Our 5 year old is held to a higher standard now, but had the same expectations as his sisters when he was 3. – Karl Bielefeldt Dec 28 '12 at 16:55

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