Positive Behaviour Support Strategies for Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Each child with ASD presents with unique needs that when unmet can result in them exhibiting behaviours that can disrupt their participation and that of others. Without the necessary knowledge and tools, it can often find it difficult to meet the needs of their children effectively. Does this sound familiar?

Specialist Behaviour Support Services and Speech Pathology.

Start this course
Child with autism spectrum disorder using headphones to block external stimuli


5 hours of professional development

Price: $165

Register on Teachable via credit card or email Dolly for invoice

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) occurs in approximately 1 in 70 people. It is thought that boys are up to four times more likely to have ASD than girls, although current research is demonstrating that girls often ‘mask’ the symptoms of ASD, leading to misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis until later in life. ASD may be diagnosed in early childhood, but diagnosis can be made across childhood, adolescence or in adulthood. However, symptoms need to have been present since early childhood for a clinical diagnosis to be made later in life. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5) as a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder which is characterised by a ‘dyad’ of impairments, namely; social interaction and communication alongside persistent and repetitive interests, activities and behaviours (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2013).

ASD exists along a continuum, meaning that the ways in which an individual is impacted varies in an individual manner. Diagnosticians may or may not provide information about where on this spectrum an individual lies at the point of diagnosis. If this information is provided, it gives information with regard to the challenges those with ASD will face due to their diagnosis. Prior to the release of the DSM-5, those being assessed for ASD may have received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), these are now included under the umbrella term ‘ASD’. Those who received their diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome or PDD-NOS prior to the release of the DSM-V will retain this diagnosis. 


Diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

In order to meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD, those being assessed must meet the criteria as described by APA (2013); difficulties in each of the three areas of social communication/interaction and a minimum of two out of the four forms of restricted, repetitive behaviour as follows:

  1. Deficits in social communication and social interaction which is present across more than one setting as follows:
    • Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity e.g. abnormal social interaction, lack of back-and-forth conversation, reduced or absence of sharing of interests, emotions or social affect. May also have poor ability or absence of initiation of social interaction or response to others initiation of social interaction.
    • Deficits in non-verbal communication e.g. poor or excessive eye contact, lack of, or reduced body language/gesture and lack of/unusual facial expression.
    • Deficits in the development of relationships e.g. friendships maintenance of existing relationships and understanding of what relationships entail. These types of difficulties may manifest in reduced, or lack of reciprocal imaginative play, reduced, or lack of, ability to make friends or a lack of interest in their direct peers.
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities, either at the present time or in the past:
    • Motor movements, use of objects or speech are repetitive or stereotyped e.g. spinning/flipping objects, lining up toys, echolalia or idiosyncratic phrases.
    • Difficulties with change in routine, insistence on ‘sameness’ or specific ritualised behaviour e.g. becoming extremely upset at small changes, challenges with transitions, ritualised eating or need to travel by the same route and rigid thinking.
    • Restricted interests which, in comparison with peers of the same developmental level, are unusual in their intensity or focus e.g. to the detriment of other interests or attachment to unusual objects.
    • Over sensitivity or under sensitivity to sensory input. This can include unusual sensory interests e.g. smelling or touching items, visual inspection of items or extreme interest in lights or movement. Individuals may also react unusually to pain or temperature changes. 

As mentioned previously, diagnosticians may or may not provide information on the severity of ASD in order to inform the interventions which will be best suited to that individual. This includes the following criteria specified in the DSM – 5 (APA, 2013):

  • The symptoms mentioned above should have been present in early childhood but may not have become apparent until social demand is increased. This includes those who mask their difficulties with learned strategies throughout childhood/adolescence. 
  • These symptoms cause clinically significant challenges socially, occupationally or in other areas of everyday functioning. 
  • These challenges cannot be explained by intellectual disability (ID) or global developmental delay. This does not include those individuals who have co-existing ASD and ID, which frequently occur together. In order for a diagnosis of ASD to be made in an individual who also has ID, they must meet the criteria as set out above and also present with lower levels of social communication for their current developmental level. 

When a diagnosis of ASD is made, the diagnostician should specific if ASD co-occurs alongside ID, a language impairment, a known medical or genetic condition, an environmental factor, another neurodevelopmental, mental or behavioural disorder or catatonia (APA, 2013).

Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

There is no known cause of ASD, however, research has demonstrated that it is not due to inadequate parenting, nor does it have a link to childhood vaccinations (e.g. MMR). Recent scientific evidence suggests that there may be a genetic element to ASD, however, this has not been found to be applicable to all cases of ASD. 

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) strategies for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders is a comprehensive online course which will provide you with a toolkit of practical, evidence-based strategies to support children and adolescents with ASD. You will be taught a range of behaviour management strategies to respond effectively to challenging behaviour and also to develop a behaviour support plan to support the individual develop positive ways of managing their emotions and behaving. 


Course Outcomes

Following completion of this course, you will be equipped with:

  • A toolkit of practical strategies to assess, manage and prevent aggressive behaviour.
  • Guidance to develop a behaviour support plan.
  • Free copy of ebook ‘Positive Behaviour Support for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • A certificate of participation of 5 hours CPD.
  • Completion of an accredited Teacher Quality Institute of ACT.

What you'll learn

This online, self-paced course is divided into three modules:

Module 1, Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Defining ASD
  • Subcategories of ASD
  • Characteristics of ASD
  • Impact of Characteristics on Social Communication, Learning and Behaviour
  • Onset of ASD
  • Diagnostic Process
  • Causes of ASD
  • Prevalence of ASD

Module 2, Positive Behaviour Support

  • Learn about data collection (intensity, frequency, duration)
  • Complete a functional behaviour assessment
  • Identify triggers and functions of challenging behaviours
  • Learn and identify safe and appropriate behaviour de-escalation management strategies
  • Learn and identify appropriate behaviour minimisation and prevention strategies
  • Develop a customised behaviour support plan
  • Learn and identify appropriate strategies and tools for helping a student develop cognitive, communication, behavioural and social skills

Module 3, Positive Behaviour Support and Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Help students with ASD cope with change
  • Help students with ASD cope with unstructured times
  • Help students with ASD cope with transitions between activities, people or places
  • Help students with ASD develop communication skills
  • Use visual communication systems to help improve communication, play and a positive identity
  • Develop an Individual Education Plan

How to enrol and receive your resources

Teachable – Click on START THIS COURSE to begin the course through Teachable, where you’ll be required to pay the course fee of $165 via credit card. If you would prefer an invoice or have multiple participants please email dolly@behaviourhelp.com

Once enrolled, you will receive a Welcome email with the course information

Confirm the email address you would like the Amazon voucher to be sent to so you can download a free copy of the coursebook Positive Behaviour Support Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A step by step guide to assessing, preventing and managing emotional and behavioural difficulties on Amazon Kindle.

Course tasks to complete and send via email to dolly@behaviourhelp.com

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

Meet Dolly Bhargava, profile picture