Writing the Family Rule Book – Rule #1

I keep getting annoyed at E. because he won’t follow what I consider to be a simple rule for disciplining and communicating with R.  He told me to write a rule book, so here goes.

When giving R. an instruction, (An instruction is any time you are telling R. to do something, whether it is regarding misbehavior or not.  Sit down, come here, put down, are examples) only repeat the request twice.  After the first request, if she is not complying, move towards her, and repeat the request a second time when you are a hands reach away, if she does not comply after the second request, physically force her to comply.

So it looks like this:

R. is jumping on the couch.
I say Sit down, wait a second or two and move towards her.
She continues jumping.
I’m standing in front of her and I repeat Sit down and physically sit her down.

I’ve been using this method since R. was 18 months old, before we knew about the autism.  A Mom in my typical Moms group suggested it because she was tired of yelling all day.  In the beginning I was careful to use commands that told R. what she should do – sit down as opposed to what not to do – stop jumping.  It doesn’t matter as much any more, she seems to understand.  But what is the best part, is when I use this method I almost never have to say the request twice.  As soon as she sees me moving towards her, she will usually comply.  She does test me a lot, she’ll wait until my back is turned and start jumping again.  But that kind of testing seems like a good thing to see in a child with autism, so I try to be patient.

This can be an annoying method, because it means I have to stop what I’m doing to follow through.  I have to be consistent, especially regarding discipline.  But it is really worth it, she listens to me and to her teachers.  She also listens to E., but she would listen even better if he would be consistent about forcing her to comply.

I don’t mean to imply that E. is not cooperative in general about working with R.  I think that it has become one of my pet peeves to hear someone repeat things endlessly to her.