Prevention Strategies

The following are examples of preventative strategies that may decrease the likelihood of problem behavior. While these strategies are not always the final solution, they can still be helpful.*

Avoid situations or people

Johnny becomes upset when dad tries to have him put on his pajamas or brush his teeth, so we always have mom put him to bed.

Control the environment

Put locks on the pantry doors so your snacker can't get snacks without asking for them.

Do things in small doses

Go to church for just the last 15 minutes of services. Go to activities for 5, 10, or 15 minutes; however long you have before Susie becomes agitated.

Change the order of events

If downtime after school with video games results in a battle to move on to homework later, don’t allow video games until after homework. Timmy can start with other down time activities or get straight to homework. No matter what, video games don’t start until homework is done.

Respond to early signs of the problem

If you see the early signs of agitation, like pacing, ask if there's a quiet room Sally can go to or go sit in the car for a few minutes and let her play on her iPad. After a bit, see if Sally is ready to go back to the party.

Change how you ask or respond

Starting with “no” can often upset Danny. Try starting with "yes," but then list the things Danny has to do first. For example, "Yes! First we're putting away the groceries, then we're eating lunch, and then you can have ice cream!"

Address setting events

Getting up at 7:00 AM for school and then rushing to get ready always upsets Betsy. Move her bedtime back by an hour and give her a preliminary wake up at 6:45. Hopefully by the real time to get up at 7:00, Betsy will be more awake and feel less rushed.

Use visual or auditory cues

If Mary can’t stay long at the grocery, put together a visual board. Show 5 items you will be buying at the store that she really likes (chicken nuggets, juice, etc.). When the item goes in the cart, she can take it off the board. Spread the items out so you’re getting one item every 5 to 10 minutes.


*For additional strategies, check out the following parent training manual.  Bearss, K., Johnson, C., Handen, B., Butter, E., Lecavalier, L., Smith, T., & Scahill, L. (2015). RUBI autism network: Parent training for disruptive behavior [a treatment manual]. Publisher: Authors.