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Decreasing tantrum/meltdown behaviors of school children with high functioning autism through parent training

Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) demonstrate a variety of developmental problems. Two of the prominent maladaptive behaviors seen are tantrums (unrelenting verbal protests) and meltdowns (physical displays of aggression and emotion). These habits cause challenges in developing and maintaining healthy relationships and are the most targeted behaviors for children with ASD. Self- regulation techniques have been specifically identified as effective for reducing unwanted behaviors in students with autism; however they are underutilized. This study taught parents of children with autism a particular self-management technique called ACCEPTS (Activities, Contributing, Comparison, Experiencing opposite emotions, Pushing away thoughts, other Thoughts, distracting Sensations). The aspect of parent training is unique because the majority of the intervention research focuses on professionals in the educational setting. Six families with male children diagnosed with a form of ASD were included in the study. Formal instruction and support were provided over the course of nine weeks to parents who in turn taught their children the ACCEPTS technique. Half of the cases demonstrated statistical decreases in maladaptive behavior, while nearly all parents reported noticeable differences in their child’s behavior. Little or no changes in adaptive behavior were observed.


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