It took me a long time to understand that behavior is communication with ASD kids. Once I got that through my thick skull though, I was able to use it to my benefit. Now when Ivy gets cranky, irritable or discontent, I know there is an underlying issue at hand and it's up to me to figure out what the "real issue" is, so we can move forward. The following is an excerpt from Ellen Notbohm's TEN THINGS YOUR STUDENT WITH AUTISM WISHES YOU KNEW.
For children with autism:
Behavior is communication. All behavior occurs for a reason. It tells you, even when my words can’t, how I perceive what is happening around me. Negative behavior interferes with my learning process. But merely interrupting these behaviors is not enough; teach me to exchange these behaviors with proper alternatives so that real learning can flow.
Start by believing this: I truly do want to learn to interact appropriately. No child wants the negative feedback we get from “bad” behavior. Negative behavior usually means I am overwhelmed by disordered sensory systems, cannot communicate my wants or needs or don’t understand what is expected of me. Look beyond the behavior to find the source of my resistance. Keep notes as to what happened immediately before the behavior: people involved, time of day, activities, settings. Over time, a pattern may emerge.
**On a side note, we went swimming today and had a little fun. Ivy conned me out of a hot dog on a real wheat bun today...behavior tonight? You betcha!!! Anytime we do dietary infractions, there will be a consequence to that (much to my disadvantage). But sometimes, you just have to let a kid be a kid and swim and have a hot dog on a bun all in the same day! Right now she is happy as a lark and I am happy that she is happy. :)