Common Functions of Behavior For Children With Autism

There are many common functions of behavior for children with autism. The function of behavior is the reason why a person will behavior in a certain way. These behaviors typically fall into four categories such as:
·       Escape/Avoidance: The child behaves in a way to get out of doing something they do not want to do.
·       Attention Seeking: The child behaves in a way so that the attention is focused on them.
·       Seeking Access to Activities/Materials: The child behaves in a way to get something that they really want.
·       Sensory Stimulation: The child behaves in a way to soothe themselves and/or make them feel good.
If you are trying to decide what function of behavior your child is displaying, ask yourself the questions below:
o   Escape/Avoidance of Task or Request
Does the behavior start when a request or demand is made?
Does the behavior stop when your child is removed from the activity?
o   Attention
Is your child alone or unattended?
Does your child exhibit the behavior when alone?
Does the behavior occur to get a reaction?
o   Power/Control
Is your child given choices at home?
Does the behavior stop after your child receives a desired object?
o   Communication
Does your child have a functional and reliable communication system?
Is your child provided the necessary equipment/skills to communicate wants and needs? (VISUALS)
o   Stress/Frustration
Does your child have adequate skills to release stress in the appropriate manner?
Does your child seem calm or relaxed after the problem behavior has stopped?
o   Self-Stimulation
Is the behavior part of the stereotypical pattern of behaviors associated with autism?
Does your child repeat the behavior when alone?
Does your child appear unaware of their surroundings?
Does your child’s behavior suggest a sensory component?
Once you have identified the function that is maintaining the behavior, you are able to implement interventions that will help to decrease the problem behavior and increase more appropriate behaviors.