Are Dr. Baileyís materials helpful for children with developmental or mental health issues?
I Love You Rituals are helpful for every child, and are ESSENTIAL for any child facing challenges (relationship-resistant, developmental issues, emotional issues, etc.). Conscious Discipline requires a paradigm shift that changes the way we perceive situations, and so our response is different. This teaches the child new skills and empowers him or her to behave differently. The key is for the adult to make that initial shift from seeing a difficult child to see a child that is calling for help, which also shifts him/her away from punishing (whether consciously or subconsciously) to teaching new skills.
Can students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) benefit from Conscious Discipline?
Conscious Discipline is extremely helpful for all children, and is essential to the success of those who are coping with developmental, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other challenging issues. Other approaches to discipline such as rewards, reflective colored mats, and RED/yellow/green card systems can confuse and frustrate children with these challenges. These approaches neither clarify the behavior that needs modifying, nor teach new skills. Conscious Discipline, however, creates a safe, connected environment in which children can successfully internalize new skills.
Students with ASD are frequently taught social concepts in settings outside their daily interactions (typically with therapists doing pull-out therapies). These children have a difficult time generalizing the concepts from the sessions and transferring what they've learned in isolation to their daily experience. They need to learn the missing skill in the context of the classroom with the peers they see everyday. One of Conscious Discipline’s greatest strengths is its unique classroom environment called the “School Family.” In a School Family, children feel safe enough and connected enough to internalize the healthy social-emotional skills that are modeled there in context every day. Conscious Discipline and the School Family provide the specificity and context ASD kids need to increase their learning and success: Specific language, behavior descriptors, visual supports, routines, rituals and, of course, the teaching of new skills.
Since Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) presents communication barriers, how does Conscious Discipline address the difficulty with language?
Children with autism often struggle with processing the subtleties of human communication, including expressive language, expressive gestures, metaphors, similes and sarcasm. The structure and language of Conscious Discipline simplifies, clarifies, and teaches new skills in brain-friendly ways that inserts breaks, provides motor outlets, facilitates social connectedness and relies on helpful routine and rituals.
Best Practices for students with ASD always incorporate a multisensory approach to learning, as does Conscious Discipline. Conscious Discipline encourages teachers to stimulate learning through all modes, including sensory, auditory, visual, tactile and even olfactory systems. ASD children in Conscious Discipline classrooms do well despite the auditory factor because it offers a variety of stimulation so they can always find comfort in one. For example, Conscious Discipline incorporates pictures in routines and activities. Pictures provide step-by-step visual information for what to do in certain situations, represent active calming strategies, provide job choices, depict rules and show activities to help students connect with others.
Language takes form beyond the spoken word with Conscious Discipline. This is crucial for the child with ASD because words can be meaningless without another format to extend the explanation. Unique in it’s approach, Conscious Discipline connects children through routines, rituals, music, movement, jobs, showing empathy, resolving conflicts with specific language, and socially connecting activities that can be as simple as greeting each child. The job component is particularly unique and helpful for ASD because in addition to such physical tasks like passing out supplies, Conscious Discipline jobs encompass social-emotional undertakings (Important to say that jobs are embedded in the daily routine so that the ASD child is more likely to be willing to do the job )like extending kindness, welcoming back absent children, wishing well when classmates are having difficulty and celebrating accomplishments.
The language of Conscious Discipline (in addition to being supplemented by visuals) is assertive, structured and concise. This is vital for children with ASD who have difficulty interpreting oral language and filtering directions through their auditory channel. Too many words, lengthy explanations, and aggressive or passive commands can confuse these children easily. Conscious Discipline teaches adults to use an assertive tone and give useful information when giving commands. Adults learn to paint of a picture of the desired behavior (“walk with your hands at your side like this”), use brief sentences to identify a child’s errant behavior, label the child’s emotion, assertively state the limit and/or offer two acceptable choices. This simple, sequential flow acknowledges the child’s internal state and desire, connects the child to his/her action, and presents two viable options from which to choose (when appropriate). Dr. Bailey designed this flow based on brain research to help the child move from an upset, unorganized state to a calm state where new skills can be acquired and new behaviors applied.
Developing relationships and friendships is a challenge for students with Autism or Aspergerís. How does Conscious Discipline address this, especially for students with the potential to become social outcasts or loners?
Peer relationships between a neuro-typical student and a student with Autism or Asperger’s can be delicate, strained or nonexistent because it’s an uneven playing field. Children with ASD are attempting to function without the same filter their peers have developed within the realm of interpersonal relationships and nonverbal cues.
Children in the autism spectrum often lack the skills to spontaneously join into play with peers or interpret vague invitations to participate. Conscious Discipline teaches the use of two positive choices because research shows the brain tends to respond to this with cooperation. This brain-based knowledge empowers children with autism to learn the social skill of inviting someone to play with them. You can assist in this process by creating prompt cards that have a formalized sentence structure or a two-picture option. The child with ASD can carry the prompt card in a pocket or wear it on an elastic wristband at recess.
Teachers can also pair up typical peers with ASD children for I Love You Rituals and other activities. When these connecting rituals are part of the daily routine, the child with ASD will often go right along with it, providing the opportunity to interact.
Within the typical classroom, itís easy for a child in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to become invisible. Can Conscious Discipline make a difference?
Students with ASD can become ostracized because they have a unique perspective, focus or interest that is different from peers. In a classroom that implements Conscious Discipline, a student in the spectrum can experience a different paradigm.
At the heart of Conscious Discipline, the teacher establishes a solidly structured “School Family” with a Friends and Family Board, a School Family song, a Safe Place, greetings/goodbyes, clear routines, and rituals that call for children to connect, touch, interact and partner up together. The goal of the School Family is to help every child feel safe enough and connected enough to participate, learn and flourish. It is solidly committed to a “we” model, rather than a “me” model of being. Students with autism, Asperger’s, developmental issues, physical limitations, etc., are part of the School Family just like all the other students. Differences and uniqueness are acknowledged and embraced in this compassionately connected environment.
In a Conscious Discipline classroom, children learn to calm themselves, wish each other well, make commitments, celebrate successes, encourage each other, show empathy, practice redoing hurtful acts in helpful ways, practice responsibility with class jobs and more. Classroom structures support these ideals. The Safe Place, for example, is a place children can go when they feel overwhelmed, anxious, upset or confused. The Safe Place contains books, objects and pictures of interest, sensory items that help de-stress, pillows or a beanbag to sink into, and visual reminders of active calming techniques the teacher has taught and modeled. The unique structure and basis of a Conscious Discipline classroom creates an inclusive environment where all children can learn, connect and grow together.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have sensitivity to sound or difficulty tolerating music activities. What about the music used in Conscious Discipline? What will it do for a student who typically runs and covers his ears?
Individual Educational Plans for students with ASD typically include social goals because the dynamics of this disability complicate the process of creating and sustaining friendships. Teaching skills in isolated or contrived settings can be helpful, but more often than not, the student is unable to implement those practiced scripts when the opportunity unfolds in another environment.
The music of Conscious Discipline facilitates bonding and teaches life-changing concepts to children in the context of a normal social setting. This can be particularly helpful to children with ASD. Specifically, the songs on CDs from Loving Guidance encourage connections with others, provide a break/release, and reinforce classroom strategies for active calming, promoting kindness, conducting class jobs and more.
For example, Dr. Bailey co-created the CD “Brain Boogie Boosters” specifically to include choreographed movements that wire the brain for self-control. For students like those with ASD who have a high level of anxiety, songs like “Calm Your Brain” and “Move and Freeze” provide an outlet that helps them fit in with peers rather than removing them from the classroom to a sensory room or station. Repetitive movements, patterned movements, crossing the midline, and “start and stop” songs help wire the brain for impulse control.
If sound or music present challenges that interfere with a child’s participation or comfort level, simply introduce strategies to address these sensory issues. Students with ASD can be in charge of the volume (modulating it as needed), can wear ear muffs to decrease their sensitivity, or be introduced to parts of the song at first, then participate more fully as their sensitivity lessens.
My son was recently diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He yells and hits others when he feels threatened, frustrated or anxious, and Iím afraid heís getting a reputation as bully because of it. Can Conscious Discipline help him?
Children sometimes lack the insight or maturity to understand that a child with ASD simply lacks the words they need to better communicate, making the child with ASD at risk for becoming the victim of bullying or being mislabeled as a bully themselves. Such misunderstandings can result in conflicts, isolation, ridicule and verbal or physical aggression. Anxiety skyrockets, the behavior increases and the student with ASD can become even more isolated from peers.
Conscious Discipline addresses these concerns by focusing on self-calming strategies, teaching all children conflict resolution skills, and creating an environment that teaches and encourages self-control, problem solving, seeing the best in others, victim empowerment and safety through the use of routines.
Rather than see conflict as something to be avoided, Conscious Discipline provides healthy ways to resolve and self-manage similar problems in the future. In the classroom, students experiencing conflict step onto a mat known as a Time Machine to solve the problem in a helpful way. Because the learning occurs in context and with proximity, it is more likely to be internalized. The Time Machine empowers students to identify what they want someone to do differently and assertively ask for this different behavior. It provides the structure and language necessary process the problem. Your son would be coached to say, “I don’t like it when you ______. Please _______,” when he encounters a difficult situation (instead of hitting and yelling). Though your son may be perceived a bully, his aggressive behaviors likely stem from an inability to express his needs. The Time Machine will give him the opportunity to learn how to constructively express his needs, and gives “victims” the opportunity to do the same if they feel bullied.
Shubert’s Big Voice is a great book for you to use in the home to supplement your son’s classroom learning. It teaches the skills used on the Time Machine and would be an extremely helpful addition to your home. Another wonderful and accessible book that will help him to cope with his frustration and anxiety is Shubert is a S.T.A.R. The deep breathing and active calming techniques in this book will help him to short-circuit the stress response in his body when he feels upset. Practice these breathing techniques as part of your daily ritual, several times a day. You can post free breathing icons around the home to remind him to practice, and perhaps keep a Safe Place Mat in his room. The embroidered front and dot-textured back can appeal to some children with sensory issues while providing a visual reminder to S.T.A.R., drain, balloon and pretzel.
My students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) struggle with transitions. HELP!
There is a definite need to address transitions for children with ASD. While the neuro-typical student may simply look around to see what peers are doing, a child with ASD may not have a clue where to get these cues. Transitions are part of what’s often referred to as “the hidden curriculum” in schools. Consequently, children with ASD may retreat to a perceived place of safety (hiding under the hood of their jackets, under tables, in bathrooms or out the door), throw objects, stand screaming in the center or corner of the room, or other frustrating behavior.
Acting out becomes these children’s language when their frustration feels overwhelming. As an adult practicing Conscious Discipline, your job is to see these behaviors as a call for help rather than poor behavior. We must see children differently in order for them to behave differently. When we perceive a call for help, we will naturally be inclined to respond in helpful ways. We can assign words to their confusion, anxiety and frustration, provide empathy, teach new skills, and problem solve, looking for creative solutions to help with transitions.
For a child with ASD, the transition might feel like: “Everything in this environment is coming at me at once – the chatter of those around me, multiple directions restated a new way each time, the humming of the florescent lights, the interruptions of the PA, the visitors at the door, the questions of others, the smell of scented markers, the abstract concept you’re explaining… I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing and my frustration is overwhelming.”
Conscious Discipline helps you see this call for help and weaves structure, predictability, routines, visuals, music and movement, scripts, and skills throughout the day. In addition, it teaches you the importance of clearly patterned and visually represented routines and transitions, and assists you in creating these. Together, these strategies help upset or confused children to relax, connect, consider their choices and move forward in the transition.
Finally, Conscious Discipline focuses on your intent. The intention of those working with the student, the words they use and the presence they bring to the moment are critical during transitions. As the child with Autism or Asperger’s feels confusion, frustration or an assault on their sensory system, the neuro-typical adult or child must become the surrogate prefrontal cortex to help them move forward. The adult must remain calm, empathetic and helpful rather than rushed, frustrated or coercive during these difficult moments. Conscious Discipline includes a wealth of information to assist you with maintaining (or regaining) this positive intent.
Children with autism have often been sent to some version of Time Out to relax until they accomplish an act of compliance. What alternate strategies are helpful when a child in the spectrum is at risk for losing control?
Teach and visually represent the S.T.A.R., drain, balloon and pretzel for active calming. Practice these as part of your daily routine and use during times of calm so they are more accessible during times of difficulty.
Create a Safe Place that provides a location in the classroom for the child to relax and regroup, rather than relying on removal. (This is a helpful structure for all students.) Include items the child will find helpful for a sensory break, like thera putty, wave bottles, weighted beanbag animals, etc.
Provide a choice board to provide a selection of healthy calming activities so he can clearly understand his options and choose the ones that are best for him.
Post Picture Rule Cards with rules that show two positive choices and one unacceptable choice to help guide behavior and minimize confusion.
Create routine boards or books for jobs, classroom responsibilities, etc.
Provide a breathing card to remind her to be a S.T.A.R. The card can be kept at her desk or hole-punched and worn as a necklace.
Provide creams to use if the child feels upset, if he needs to concentrate, or if he’s feeling cranky. Make your own labels or use the ones on the School Family Make-n-Take CD-Rom.
Create a Friends and Family Board full of photos that reassure the child he is loved.
Provide a fiddlebox at her table or in the Safe Place, and fill it with small manipulatives for her to squeeze or hold.
Use the Conscious Discipline skill of “noticing” to pair verbal teaching with visual teaching.
Build awareness with the Conscious Discipline language that says, “Your ___ is going like this. You seem frustrated. Something must have happened?” “You have a choice. You can ___ or ___. What works best for you?”
Include regular daily music and movement activities that provide brain breaks.
Practice I Love You Rituals to provide natural connections andstress relief.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) need structure. How does Conscious Discipline help?
The daily routines in Conscious Discipline provide the predictability and structure students with ASD need to help them feel safe and move through their day successfully. Post the daily routine in a visual daily schedule. Post smaller routines like your hand washing routine, lining up routine, transition routine “what to do when you’re finished” routine etc., in visual form at the locations where you expect children to use the routine. (Creating the School Family does an excellent job of breaking down these routines and providing you with ideas to get started on your own.) Incorporate additional visual supports for any time the child seems to have difficulty such as reading, math, breaks or snack time. You may also wish to create a series of “First ____, then _____” cards. These cards are useful for sequencing the routines and language of Conscious Discipline.
Every child in the Conscious Discipline classroom has a job, and you will structure, teach and visually represent these for students to ensure their success. Many classrooms design a class-made book that explains how to do each job, using both words and in pictures.
Offering two acceptable choices in the form of visuals is another proactive structuring strategy for students with autism. The Picture Rule Cards do this quite effectively, but you can create these cards yourself to manage a variety of choices that are helpful for the child. For example, you might make a card that says, “You may S.T.A.R. or Pretzel (show images of both). Which is best for you?” Or “You can sit in your chair or sit in the reading square during journal time (show images of both locations). Which works best for you?”