“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 Boundaries Masterclass
Now if you’re wondering how to address your child’s behaviors, and how to start to have some effective boundaries that actually work, I’m so excited to share something with you!!
Because you can do this. And I want to make it even easier.
So click here to get access to my free masterclass where I walk you through exactly how to set (and stick to) effective boundaries, even if your neurodivergent child has walked over every single boundary you’ve tried to set before now.
Because I get it. As an Autistic adult and parent of 6 neurodivergent kids myself, boundaries are no-freaking-joke.
That’s exactly why I designed this masterclass! 💕
In this power-packed training, you’ll get answers on how to handle behaviors when you’d rather just hide and avoid the conflict, what to do when you’re not sure a behavior is even in your child’s control, and so much more!
I’m taking you behind the scenes and walking you through exactly what’s working with my family AND with my clients. You’re getting the “real real” of what’s actually working for neurofamilies like yours.
So if you’re ready to:
✔️ Figure out why your kid isn’t following any boundary you set (even though they’re totally capable and you SAW them do it yesterday)
✔️ Know exactly when you should stick to boundaries and when you should be flexible without feeling like a total flake
✔️ And feel like a freaking parent again—you know, one that’s actually raising your kid to be a good human…
Then you’ve got to click here and watch the free masterclass: 5 Shifts to Effective Boundaries for Neurodivergent Kids!
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It’s interesting that this is the post you do today. Just this morning I was talking to my mom and she made a comment about how special needs kids need to be treated differently then NT kids. I used to think that way, but now I think we should treat our NT children’s behaviour the same way we treat Autistic behaviors. With respect and looking for the underlying communication they are giving us. 💜💜
This is actually very similar to my journey as well. I used to think that my NT kids behaviors needed to be “fixed” because they were intentional, and my Autistic son’s behaviors were different because he was disabled and not doing it on purpose. Then I started learning more about children’s behaviors in general and the most recent parenting research (through a program called Calm the Chaos) and it completely changed my views!
My autistic son is the oldest and I think my NT son is so lucky to be younger because I know I look at behavior so differently then I would have if I hadn’t had an autistic child. Just another way Autism has blessed my family.😉