So many times we are worried about the behavior displayed by children living with Autism, always have it in mind that there will not be an action without a cause.

When thinking about a particular behavioral difficulty, it is important to ask the question,’What is the person trying to tell me by their behavior?’ and to think about the function that the behavior has for the person as an individual. Identifying this aspect of a particular behavior involves looking at what the person gains or avoids from engaging in that behavior. For an individual with ASD, it is important to think about the triad of impairments and how they may be contributing to the behavior. Bear the following questions in mind when thinking about the function of a particular behavior.

  • Is the person experiencing any pain, illness or physical discomfort, such as toothache, earache, digestion problems, allergies or seizures?
  • How does the person communicate their needs, wants, and feelings?
  • Could the behaviour be a way of compensating for communication difficulties?
  • Have there been any recent changes in the individual’s life, for example, a new teacher, moving house, disruption to the usual routine?
  • Are the person’s obsessions, special interests or repetitive behaviour contributing to the behavioural difficulties
  • Is the person experiencing any sensory issues that may be affecting their behaviour?
  • Is the behaviour related to problems with social understanding?

Sometimes a particular behaviour can have more than one function. Trying to communicate a want or need can come out as an attempt to gain attention of some sort or to bring about a particular outcome as a result of others’ reactions and the individual’s subsequent learning.