Should i Spank my Autistic Child

When raising an autistic child, finding ways to discipline can be one of the hardest tasks.  Some parents will not punish at all, thinking the child can’t help what they’re doing so why would punishment help.  Other parents punish, constantly believing that the punishments will help the child overcome his or her disorder.  And finally, there are parents who punish this child just like it was a normal child.  I’m not going to tell you the best way to punish your child.  Many children are different and react differently to different things.  But I am going to tell of one form of punishment that in my almost 10 years of studying autism spectrum disorders has proven to be detrimental time and time again.

Spanking is a controversial punishment when used on a child.  Some average children do not improve due to spankings while others do.  Many parents believe it should be against the law to physically punish a child.  Come March, I will have been studying autism spectrum disorders for 10 years.  In that time, I have met many families with children on the spectrum, most of whose parents do use spanking as punishment.  Yes, spanking did sometimes help the behavior, but usually this came with a price later in life.

A common problem was a child believing that any time they did the smallest thing wrong they deserved a spanking.  Some children that are not on the spectrum will also do this, but usually they can be reasoned with and told that they don’t deserve a spanking for everything they do wrong.  For some children on the spectrum, this is not possible.  Some of them will felt like they should be spanked and if they are not they don’t feel right.  Sometimes this can become extremely dangerous, because if the child feels he or she needs a spanking parent will give, her one, the child might decide to do it his or herself.  This is one thing a mother I know experienced.  The child was 12 years of age, a bit advanced on the spectrum, and have been left at home with his 17-year-old brother.  According to the brother, the child had dropped a glass and broken it and had asked his brother to spank him.  The brother tried to tell him that he didn’t deserve one, and told him to just go play.  The brother then turned back on his music and couldn’t hear the child giving himself a paddling.  The mother walked in later that night to find that her son had a fractured tailbone. Put simply, the child didn’t know his own strength.   

Another issue is mimicking, which children with autism are well known for.   The child sees that the parent spanked them when they did something wrong, and believes they should use the same method when they Isolate.  This time the issue came up at school.  This time the person with autism was 14 and a very high functioning.  For some reason, this issue is more common two, what a child knows 18, rather than right away.  I was actually the mentor to this 14-year-old and didn’t find out this have happened until nearly a year after.  Basically, his friend, who was not much younger, had not known doneness homework, which is a 14-year-old. We get a spanking from his mom.  At break, the 14-year-old asked his friend that he spank him as punishment for not doing his homework.  This to me says the child was unsure of social rules and decided to ask before do.  Normally, if a friend was asked that, they might get freaked out, and would most definitely say no.  But this wasn’t a normal case.  The other child was also on the spectrum, although he had Asperger’s syndrome.  People with Asperger’s are also known for not understanding social rules.  So basically, neither child saw a problem with it.  This went on for months before a teacher caught them.  They had made a set of rules for each other and if one of them broke a rule they would get 10 licks on the bare bottom with a hairbrush, which the fourteen year old always kept with him even before.  Modesty is not an issue with most people on the spectrum so they saw no issue with seeing each other bare.  The parents apparently didn’t either because they knew they had these rules when they went over to each other’s houses and found no problem with it.  The problem is that neither parent knew that the same stuff that was going on at home was being done at school.  This tells me that because the children hid it they knew in a way that it was wrong, but they saw nothing wrong, so they didn’t care what others would think.  Luckily both of them were able to be reasoned with and told that should only be done at home and never at school.  When the mother asked me about it, I told her the truth, that I had heard nothing of it.  Once again, I think they knew it was wrong in other people’s eyes, but they saw nothing wrong.

The final issue, not that it was the only other one I saw, was the child wanting the spankings to continue.  Often times when a person on the spectrum gets used to something they don’t want it to stop.  The issue with this is that parents usually stop spanking before the child reaches the age of 15.  But because it had been the structure so long, the child didn’t feel right.  Put simply, the parent had to wean the teen off spanking like a baby from a bottle, giving a shorter spanking and taking away a privilege.  The spanking would get shorter each time until the teen realized that it wasn’t going to be the end of the world if this changed.  Sometimes this doesn’t work, however.  There have been reports of adults with autism still feeling like physical punishment is needed.  For this reason spanking a child with autism is very risky.  All of these reasons show that, even though spanking might have been good to temporarily correct behavior, it created problems later in life.