How to teach impulse control?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2008
How to teach impulse control?
3
Thu, 03-25-2010 - 1:44pm

When Graham gets an idea stuck in his head......look out. He'll find some way to act on it.

The boys have been very excited about a camping trip that is planned for June. There's been a lot of play centered around it. Getting the sleeping bags out, walking around with backpacks on, setting up 'tents', etc.

Well, Graham scoured that house and found the small stash of matches, that I didn't even know we had, and tried to start a fire in the backyard. Fortunately, he doesn't know how to use matches and was unable to get them to light because he was rubbing them on the wrong surface. We only found out about this because he stuffed a pack of matches in his pocket and it fell out. The main event happened while we were out for an hour and a babysitter was there - an adult who had to contend with Anson having an accident that night.

He's had his consequence meted out, but I'm at a loss at how to get him to *stop* for a moment and *think* about whether what he's doing is a good idea or not. Obviously that's not in his skill set. We'll be having more discussions about this event, but I was wondering if anyone had some ideas or tips in teaching kids about how to slow down and think about the consequences of their actions before they get into them.

Yeesh! Aspies and their driven focus!

Andrea, mom to

Graham
Miles
Anson

Andrea, mom to

Graham
Miles
Anson
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2005
Fri, 03-26-2010 - 1:10pm

I don't know. I'd love to see some good answers. We're still working on this.

Since your ds didn't have impulse control in this situation, I'm glad he also didn't have the know-how to start the fire. Whew! Scary.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-2006
Fri, 03-26-2010 - 3:57pm
I'm so glad everyone's okay. I dont think I can help much though as the only thing I have heard that can help with impulsiveness is medication for ADHD type of behaviors.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2008
Tue, 03-30-2010 - 10:29am

I think what you are referring to as 'impulse control' is truly not understanding the consequences of behaviours. Until they learn to map out, step by step, the consequences of what they do I think our ASD kids will struggle with this. I don't think you can teach it generally, I think you have to go over each specific instance (in this case, get him to map out what different choices he could have made at each stage of the process to get to a different, better outcome, using social stories if necessary to hammer the point across). So, you can teach him not to play with matches, but you can't teach him not to do anything he feels like doing - he's going to have to learn how to map out the consequences of his actions by understanding how each step leads to the next. It's a slow, repetitive process.


Most of the things you think of as 'impulse control' are socially conditioned behaviours - we learn, instinctively, not to do certain things because they will get us into trouble, usually with other people. ASD kids, particularly Aspies, don't tend to do things for other people's approval (or not do things to avoid disapproval) in the same way. And even if they *got* our approval it might feel overwhelming or unpleasant, so you can't use that as a carrot. You can only use 'sticks' (or consequences) that make sense to them, as well, which further complicates things. I can well believe that Graham saw no consequences for *him* of his actions (he didn't actually set fire to himself, for example) so he doesn't really get why he can't play with matches.


I dunno, really - my NT 7 year old would 'get' that he shouldn't play with matches because of the danger, and getting into trouble,

"My definition of housework is to sweep the room with a glance"


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