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How Discipline Can Help Kids with Autism

September 28, 2017

Every child dreads the “d” word – Discipline. But the word takes on positive meaning in adult years.

Discipline is both an action and a mindset. Often times, receiving appropriate discipline in youth allows children with autism to grow up to be disciplined adults. Therefore, teaching children with autism right from wrong by incorporating measures of discipline will benefit them long term.


Children with autism are often well-meaning, tenderhearted individuals who have unique challenges developing communication and social skills. Because of this, the way they perceive the world is different than their peers. For this reason, it is crucial each child receives proper attention in youth to ensure he or she becomes an acclimated and approachable adult.

This can be accomplished by parents defining appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, according to household rules and societal norms. If consistent punishments are attached to different offenses, a child can know what to expect if rules are broken.


Teaching children with autism the virtue of discipline by punishing poor behavior is the parents’ decision. Still, sometimes it’s helpful for parents to know what discipline techniques other parents use to help children with autism develop into healthy, high functioning adults.

Below are some general insights that emphasize the importance of disciplining children with autism. For specific examples, we are asking parents to share experiences and positive approaches to discipline in the comment section at the conclusion of this post.

– Remember, children with autism are visual learners. They are more likely to learn from example, or visual demonstration, rather than hearing verbal instructions, or reading directions.

– Keeping a visual schedule is highly important when teaching children with autism. A schedule allows for natural consequences to come about; for instance, if the child does not complete a task in a specific amount of time, he or she may run out of time for enjoyable activities. Teaching discipline to children with autism can begin with pointing out how undisciplined behavior takes time away from doing fun things.

– Discipline involves ensuring poor behavior doesn’t happen again.  Teaching children with autism about discipline by correcting misguided behaviors might take time because of their unique developmental abilities. When approaching this task, remember, patience is a virtue too.

We hope you continue the conversation by “leaving a reply” below. Knowing how to discipline a child is challenging for any parent. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences, techniques, helpful tips and questions with the disability community of Canada. After all, parents know best.

The National Benefit Authority is Canada’s leading service provider of the Disability Tax Credit, a disability program that offers financial support to people with medical conditions, including autism spectrum disorder. We’ve helped over 40,000 Canadians successfully receive their Canadian disability benefits!

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