Why do children with autism tantrum and what can parents do about it?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,895
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses why autistic children have tantrums and what parents can do about them.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: Why do children with autism throw tantrums and what can parents do about it?

    Peggy Halliday: If you are a young child and you don t have any language, you don t any way to tell parents, what you want, then you can become very frustrated and it is very easy to get fall down on the floor and cry and that becomes the functional way of communicating with our parents or our care givers.

    If you fall down on the floor, we as parents have a tendency not to want our children to be upset, so we do every thing we can to figure out, okay, what does my child want? Do you want this? Do you want this milk? Do you this cookie? Often, when we hit on the things that the child wants they stop tantruming and they have successfully communicated with us. But, what we have taught them is that in order to get what they want they can fall down on the floor and tantrum and so we enforce that behavior and so, we are more likely to see it happen again because it worked.