“Is he struggling because of his autism or is this normal behavior struggles we should address?”
“I’m just trying to find out… Is this an autism thing that we should accept, or is it a behavior?”
“I just don’t know if she’s misbehaving or she’s just doing this because she’s Autistic”
I hear questions like this over and over and over again from the parents in my community.
It all boils down to this: Is it autism or behavior?
And the answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
So today I’m going to dive into the difference between autism and everyday behaviors, as well as how to approach both autism and behaviors.
Is It Autism or Behavior?
And before we really dive in, I want to take a moment to appreciate those who are asking this question.
Because here’s what it tells me about you as a parent…
It tells me that you are doing your absolute best to not change who your Autistic child is.
And that, my friend, is HUGE.
In a society where most Autistics are being taught to change everything about themselves to appear more neurotypical, you simply taking the step to actively avoid changing Autistic behaviors is awesome.
In this post, we’re going to build on what you’re already doing right, and we’re going to take the acceptance of Autistic behaviors a step further.
So let’s dive in, friend!
How We Approach Autistic Behaviors
When people are asking this question, is it autism or behavior, one of the primary reasons is that most of us fundamentally approach Autistic behaviors and general behaviors differently.
We understand Autistic behaviors are something done because of our children’s unique neurology and it’s often happening for a reason that we didn’t even know about.
We understand that Autistic behaviors like scripting or stimming might sometimes be annoying (just being honest, sometimes my kid’s autism pokes my autism right in the eye), but they need to be accepted because it’s a part of who they are.
And ultimately, we understand that we should only try to change our Autistic child’s behaviors if they are harmful to themselves or others.
How We Approach Behavior
Now the flip side… How do we approach behavior?
Well, if we look at society as a whole, we look at behavior as something your child is doing that needs to be stopped at all costs.
Maybe when dealing with behavior you might think of things like:
- “Talking To”s
- Taking Things Away
- Assigning Extra Chores
The primary belief is that behaviors are things our children are doing intentionally and that it is our job to train them to not do those behaviors.
Whereas autism is something our children aren’t in control of—it’s who they are—so it should be accepted and accommodated for.
But personally, I approach behavior differently than society tells me to.
Kind of like I approach autism differently than society tells me to. But more about that in a bit…
A New Way of Seeing Behavior
What if we looked at ALL behavior, the way we look at autism?
What if we believe that ALL behavior is communicating something?
That ALL behavior is happening for a reason?
That ALL behavior deserves understanding and accommodation?
I believe that children do well when they can and that all behavior is communication.
And that means I believe that the best way to handle children’s behaviors (Autistic behaviors or general behaviors) is to find out the reason that behavior is happening and address the reason.
That isn’t to say that we don’t do anything about any behaviors, it’s simply saying that we approach all behaviors in the same way.
FREE Behavior Type Quiz
Now if you’re wondering how to address your child’s behaviors, I want to tell you about a FREE quiz that I’m so excited about!
After working with hundreds of thousands of parents and children, my friend Dayna has recognized that all children fall into 5 distinct behavior types.
And each behavior type comes with its own unique strengths and struggles.
But more than that, when you know your child’s behavior type, you can gain insight into how to best address their different behavior struggles.
You’ve got to click here and check out the 100% free behavior quiz!