Thursday, August 31, 2006

Clinic Notes: When Time Out Does Not Work for Children with Autism

In my last blog I discussed how to do time out properly. As I mentioned time out is a often used and misused procedure. But even when used properly time out can have limited success with children with autism. Time out means time out from positive reinforcement. So if a child with autism is engaging in a reinforcing activity such as playing with a toy, watching a video, etc, and you send the child to time out for some inappropriate behavior such as not following directions then time out will in all probability be effective. On the other hand, if you are running discrete trial training and trying to teach a child with autism letters of the alphabet, which is hard for the child, then sending the child to time out for an inappropriate behavior such as not paying attention will not be effective. The drills are not reinforcing so time out will not work. In this situation we usually run the body parts drill. In this drill we take the child’s wrist and use the child’s hand to point to different body parts. Fade the physical prompts as the child begins to do the drill on his or her own. In other words, use less and less force to move the child’s hand as the child becomes compliant. (This is the same behavioral principal a rider would use to get a horse that balks to cross a ditch or go up a hill. The rider would pull the reins to the right or left and make the horse go around in a circle several times. If the horse did not comply then the rider would have the horse go around in circles several more time and try again.


Brenda Roussel, M.Ed. said...

This is a great site, and I really appreciate that you are taking the time to collect parent reported data to determine some possible relationships and patterns that may not be especially clear at this point in time.
I believe that immunization history should also be captured. Based on my reserch findings up to 1999 when my first child was born (the one I submitted for the quesitonnaire), I did not give either of my children the MMR and figured out the allergies (milk especially) early (four months old)and changed my own diet to protect his digestive system, breaat fed for 2.5 years, introduced solids after 12 months, and very slowly to check for reactions, gave no formula, moved to rice milk at 2.5 years, tried soy, but he vomitted that up and passed out a few times before we (doctor, too) believed it to be true. Turned out he was allergic to corn syrup solids.
I truly believe that not giving the MMR, and controlling the diet, may have prevented the catalytic reaction of ADHD becoming or mutating into ASD, high functioning or otherwise. This is along with our ABA parenting style to teach.
Would love to talk with you personally and can be reached at
Best Regards,
Brenda Roussel, M.Ed.
Behaviour Therapist,
Ontario, Canada

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