Top 5 Questions: Tackling Autism Tantrums and Other Common Problem Behaviors

Community Manager, Kelsey General and I are starting a series in which we will answer top questions in various areas. Today, we have our top 5 questions related to common problem behaviors and autism tantrums. We share a variety of information and resources going back to previous episodes, videos, blogs, and more.

Biting and Chewing

First, biting is very different from chewing and is incredibly important to prevent because it can create numerous health and safety concerns. Biting can be related to stress, pain, and many other factors while chewing can be related to nutritional deficits, medical conditions, or even attention seeking.  Kelsey and I provide some examples in this episode on how to identify the cause behind both biting and chewing and put new habits into place to prevent future incidents.

Accepting “No”

The most important answer to this question relies on the age of the child, both the chronological age and the developmental age. No is a very difficult concept to understand for younger children, they might not understand “No but later”, “No not now”, “No it’s not yours”. It’s important to set yourself up as a yes man, provide more opportunities to say yes and remove the reasons to say no from your routine and environment. This way, when you have to say no, it’s less frequent and easier to handle. Additionally, always try to have alternatives to provide. Try the Sush, label, give procedure and once the child is calm, identify what you can say yes to and give that to them. Learning to accept no for most young children with no tantrum at all is not developmentally appropriate, even for typical developing children. 

Autism and Eloping

If you’re finding your child trying to run in public spaces, ask yourself what skills they have and what commands they listen to at home. If your child isn’t following basic instructions at home, they are not going to listen when out in the world with so many distractions present. Start working on these skills in a safe environment and adjust your routines. This may mean only taking your child to fenced in areas, utilizing a second person for assistance, or restraining your child in a stroller or even harness. Just remember this is temporary until you teach them the skills needed to keep themselves safe.


What are they throwing? Are you providing them with safe, appropriate items that they can throw? Whether they are throwing for cause and effect, a stim, or maybe they are clearing desks and throwing food. If it’s dangerous, emergent behavior, intervention needs to be immediate. Kelsey and I go over some of the table time learning activities that are available through my book and through the courses, that can get children engaged and learning the skills that will prevent this behavior.

Unsafe Jumping and Climbing

This is closely related to throwing. Are you providing safe and appropriate opportunities to jump and climb? Are you keeping the child engaged throughout their day? Are you creating a safe environment by anchoring furniture and removing dangerous climbing hazards? Providing safe alternatives is going to prevent unsafe behaviors. Additionally, working on table time activities outlined in my book and courses are going to create opportunities for learning and engaging in safe behavior.

Many of the questions Kelsey and I discussed today were worded with “how do I stop” language, the focus for most of the answers revolved less around stopping behavior and more about prevention. Kelsey receives 20+ questions a day on important topics like this. We will be back soon to tackle more and get these answers out.

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autism tantrums

Kelsey General on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Kelsey is a single mom to two boys, living in BC, Canada. In 2016 her oldest son was diagnosed with autism at 25 months old. After learning he would not qualify for the support he needed, Kelsey began her journey of learning how to help him. Since then, Kelsey has continued her education in the field in order to provide her children and others in the community the direct intervention they needed. Now, Kelsey homeschools both her kids with support from a team of consulting professionals while also working with other families providing behavior analytic services and parent coaching services. Kelsey and her boys enjoy spending their free time exploring and in nature hiking, biking, camping, and snowboarding. You can follow her adventures and learn more about getting children with autism outside safely on her Instagram page,


  • How to prevent problem behaviors
  • What are the top 5 common problem behaviors we get questions about in the online community
  • What the difference is between biting and chewing
  • Why accepting no is usually not a developmentally appropriate skill
  • How to keep kids safe when they try to elope
  • How to prevent throwing, jumping, and climbing.
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 171
Top 5 Questions: Tackling Autism Tantrums and Other Common Problem Behaviors
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
Guest: Kelsey General

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast, episode number one hundred and seventy one. Today we are trying something a little different. I have our community manager. Kelsey General on, Kelsey has been on two other podcasts. She was on at the very beginning for my first interview podcast number three, and we are going to have her come on on a regular basis, maybe once a month or once every two months. And we're going to cover the top five questions in an area. So we are starting today with this episode talking about the five top questions we get from our members about problem behavior. And I know we just did a Problem Behavior podcast just a few weeks ago. Episode number one hundred and sixty nine when I talked about the no more time course, but we get a ton of questions about problem behavior, and we're going to look at it from a different lens. And Kelsey's going to weigh in with her information as well and her viewing the different ways that she's a single mom of two young boys, both diagnosed on the spectrum. And so she offers great insights, and she's also a professional in the field. So let's get to this really fun interview with Kelsey and me having the discussion about the top five questions we get on problem behavior.

Narrator: Welcome to the Turn Autism Around podcast for both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed and lead happier lives. And now your host autism mom, behavior analyst, and bestselling author, Dr. Mary Barbera.

Q&A on Problem Behavior with Mary and Kelsey:

Mary: OK, so welcome back to another episode of Turn Autism around, and we, as I said in the intro, we're going to do something a little bit different today. We have Kelsey General, who is our community manager. She is on podcast number three for her first podcast episode. She also did another podcast episode with a professional about a year ago or so. And now we're going to try this. We're going to talk today all about problem behaviors and the top five questions we get about problem behaviors within our courses and membership programs. I started thinking about this one, one of which because problem behaviors is such an important topic, it's one of our most downloaded podcast episodes. Is podcast number six all about problem behaviors. We also did several other podcast,episodes, blogs which we're going to mention those while we while we do the show today and while we answer the question is going to be more of a discussion, I think between Kelsey and I. But I just did a podcast pretty similar a couple weeks ago to announce our mini course. Our very first mini course called No More Time Out, and that is podcast number one hundred and sixty nine. So we're going to try not to be too repetitive, but you know, since the course, the mini course is brand new as of couple weeks ago, I wanted to also talk about that. Now for a very low price, you can start really coming into our community to learn more. You're obviously listening to this podcast, which is free, which is great, but we have found over the years that there's so much content out there, both from me and from others, that if you can join us to learn more, that would be awesome. So Kelsey and Rachael from my team started to do an unstuck, getting unstuck call with our members and I. I actually don't attend the call and I have been watching the last few and Kelsey's just really doing a an amazing job with answering the questions, both within our Facebook closed Facebook community for paid members, as well as on these unstuck calls. And so I thought maybe once a month, once every two months, we'd have Kelsey on and we could talk about the five top questions we get and we can discuss them, discuss our answers, both my answers as well as kelsey's answers and just a disclaimer. Nothing in this podcast, in my books and my online courses are medical behavioral advice. Any or all of my information is for informational purposes only. And so even when you if you did buy the course, the full course, if you buy the mini course, anything you learn there, you really have to apply it with eyes wide open and. Your professional, if you're working with professionals, you need their judgment because we don't know your child and you could problem behaviors is one of those things that can definitely get worse if you're doing the wrong thing, if you're doing the wrong thing sometimes and the right things sometimes. And so you have to really be careful because obviously kids can have extreme problem behaviors, which we never want. OK, so let's get to the the five questions. Let's just bang them out Kelsey and see what kind of discussion we can have

Question 1: How Do I Stop Biting and Chewing?

Kelsey: And where we go. Yeah. So a lot of the questions we get in our Facebook groups are relating to have this problem. How do I stop it? But you know, before I tell you the question, Mary, as you've said in our top podcast, number six and even in the Know More Time Out podcast, we want to really be preventing problem behavior. So that's probably what you'll hear me and Mary focus on, mostly as we go through this question because I know it's easier to ask How can I stop this? But honestly, you want to just prevent it. So one of the first questions we get a ton of is my child bites me or chews on non-food items throughout the day. How can I stop this?

Mary: And actually biting and chewing are really different in a lot of ways, but biting. Let's tackle that first because as I said in Podcast 169. I mean, biting is one of the most severe problem behaviors, especially for biting other people. It can get you thrown out of some of the best places like schools and daycares. And because as a registered nurse, I mean, I know this for decades, right? You can transmit disease via bites. It's one of the few ways where where you can actually give someone, you know, or transmit hepatitis B or AIDS, even HIV like it is, it is serious. And the other thing I didn't know actually decades ago, which I learned as a behavior analyst that human bites are actually more dangerous than animal bites, which I had no idea about. So biting is something that you really, really want to prevent, and I talk a lot in podcast 169 and talk a lot in the No More Timeout course about how we have to prevent biting. I also did a podcast interview with Dr. Timothy Vollmer, who is one of the leading international experts on problem behavior, and we can link that in the show notes. But he and I talked about how in all animal species, birds, animals, dogs, those sorts of things that if they're stressed or startled, they might have... In pain, they might bite as a reaction. And if you think about like humans before anesthesia, like old cowboy movies or women in labor before anesthesia, people would tell them to bite on a towel like to take the pain away from, you know, the amputation of the leg or something like that. So that's kind of extreme. But if we have kids that are biting others or themselves. In my case with Lucas, I mean, one of his problem behaviors that's still not completely gone is self-injurious biting of his hand or his knuckles. So it's gone way, way down, and we have it almost at zero and that's where we need it to be. But if he does bite himself, it is almost always pain related. And he has enough language to tell us about that pain a little bit, but it's often accompanied by screaming and biting himself. Unfortunately, his aggression is completely gone and we don't have any biting towards others. But in the past, that has been an issue as well. So I did do a video blog as well on fighting. I can link on the show notes or anything. This is going to be podcast 171. So if I say shownotes and you're out driving or running or whatever you're doing, you can always type in, you know, Mary and Kelsey top five questions about problem behavior and you will find us. Or if you can remember 171. It's And you'll get all these show notes. But so for biting, it's really important. Just say they are biting others. Where what body part are they biting? I remember a teacher once saying he bent my ankle and while we were at the playground, he bit my ankle like, what was your ankle doing near his mouth? It was kind of my question. But I mean, it's not funny, obviously. But you know, if kids are biting you, I remember it was, I think, the same teacher she got bit on her chest by another student, it's like. We need to be on the defensive right and keep our body parts away from kids if they are agitated and might bite. We need to protect ourselves and we need to, as Kelsey said, do a lot of prevention. I tell the story in recent work that I've done of a young two year old biting his dad. OK, what body part is he biting on the shoulder? That's a big old clue that the dad is carrying him somewhere. Maybe he's carrying him when he's upset. It turned out he was carrying him up the steps to take a nap and go to bed, and the kid wasn't even upset. It's just it became part of the routine. Dad didn't know what to do when he actually did bite. Why was he carrying a two and a half year old up the steps? So there was another discussion. So these all are clues, and we have to prevent before we move into chewing Kelsey, anything to add there with biting.

Kelsey: Not much. I mean, Brantley has only ever bit so Brantly's my oldest son, who's now almost eight. He's only that one time, and it was to a staff member at daycare and it was not good. And he had had an up increase in other problem behaviors leading to that. But that day he bit, I was like, Something's wrong. I took him to the doctor and he had a double ear infection. And that was his only. He's never bitten since. And so that was a clue. So. So that would be the first thing. And then another thing to prevent biting that I like to say is like any problem behavior, like you, said Mary, when they were carrying him a bit. But like also, if a child is likely to bite another child when the toy gets taken because they're upset, they have no language. We don't want to put a child who's prone to that with 10 other kids and three toys. We want to know to be beside the child when something gets taken to immediately keep everyone safe. So just like positioning yourself like Mary said and ways and other kids in ways and just being proactive, oh, when I tell him, no, I know who might be ready to bite? Yeah. And so as we build skills, we're still protecting to just prevent that. So those would be my main.

Mary: Yeah. Excellent point. And I do just want to add that Lucas bit a few times when he was two and then when he bit again, it was like age six and he ended up with also with ticks at the time. And so I've done some work on pands and pandas. Let me link the blog and the podcast on that because again, that was a medical issue. We took him, we were treated. And then, you know, it was years years later before there was another bite and and, you know, biting himself, you know, kind of started and kind of late too. But again, it was allergies. It's headaches of the the all, which is a cardiac med really, really improve the situation. And we talk all about that with Dr. Murray in a podcast episode. The other point you made Kelsey about toys and kids and 10 kids and a biter in the crowd. You know, sometimes you know, kids do get kicked out of preschool and daycare, and sometimes they need to not go there. And the times that they do go there, they need a whole lot more support than they're getting. So I did do a blog on getting kicked out of daycare and preschool, but if your child is biting, they have no business being in the classroom with 10 kids without one to one support and even with one to one support. Sometimes you have to pull them, and it's just not appropriate at that time. So they're a failure or you're a failure. This is going to be a lifelong thing. It's just they need more support, more teaching right now. Yeah. I just want to move on to chewing briefly. Mouthing and chewing is another problem that Lucas had a lot of. And we have I have clients, previous clients. We have online participants where kids are chewing on shirts, on sleeves, on toys, mouthing pica. We've done a couple of video blogs on mouthing and chewing and pica, which is a whole nother issue. And the let's just use a pacifier to plug them up for biting or plug them up to chew on is not the answer either. But chewing. I have found that it could be a nutritional deficiency and even pica can to either, you know, could be lead toxicity. It could be zinc and magnesium too low. And I'm just throwing out some ideas. I mean. It could be anything or it could be a medical issue. So we want to look at what they are eating, you know, could be. I talked to Dr. Keith Williams about scurvy and all these weird things that he's seeing and kids that are just really have been eating issues and nutritional deficits. So again, if you have chewing and mouthing problems, I would take a look at those specific video blogs, but I do think that they are different than biting.

Kelsey: Yeah, chewing. In my experience, like for a young, it can be different for a young child who is chewing and mouthing. They might develop mentally when you look at their assessment, be six or nine months old. And so in that case, we might just we want to look at medical, but we also just want to like get going with building skills as your book discusses getting them to the table and just building other skills because often it can be like a STIM, like there's not much else to do. So here's this toy. It feels kind of good when I chew. The other thing is to really look at, especially when you're looking at chewing, and a lot of people will want to replace it with a chewy and you did a video blog on that and why chew toys might not be appropriate. But I was thinking about this client I had, and at the time I think he was in Kinder, he might have been a grade one. He was chewing his shirt. So the point I mean, mom was just getting dollar shirts from value from the thrift store because it was just every day a new shirt was needed and it was interesting. One day I was with him in music class and he had chewed through this shirt and there was like a strip of shirt. And so I took the strip off shirt and like, made it kind of into a chewy because I'm like, Well, this is what he was chewing on. And so instead of taking a shirt, I would give them this replacement. For sure. It's the same fabric, right? You would think that he was not interested in that. He wanted a shoe. And what we found in that moment was it was purely attention. I mean, people were always like, Put your shirt down, put your shirt down. Oh, let's go change your shirt. There was all this attention around this chewing of the shirt. That once it was like, OK, you're shirt was destroyed and once no one said anything about it for a while and just when his shirt was destroyed. We've just put a new one, you know, whatever. He's totally stopped doing it. So it's always important to like, look at, you know? If you are going to try to if you are going to try some things to look at what's really happening and if it's actually replacing.

Mary: Yeah, and when the child chews and what does that mean, what happens right after the chewing, even silly things like if the child's chewing continuously on their sleeve, wear short sleeved shirts if their child is chewing on the next. I mean, I can pull this shirt up right now and I can chew on it. But if I have a tighter shirt on that came down, I would, you know, so putting not that we want to put kids in, you know, way too small shirts, but more fitted. It's just not as desirable to wear and keeping them busy. You know, you brought up Kelsey like skills. You teach your child to talk, to eat real food, to engage, to imitate, to have fun, to accept reinforcers. And a lot of those problem behaviors can fade out.

Kelsey: Yeah. Yeah. So so those are really the top questions we get about biting and chewing. And and like we both said, being creative and figuring out, you know, when it's happening and how you can prevent it. So, yeah, we can move on to question, two, that one is all about being told No. When told no my child flops to the ground and cries or gets aggressive, like hits me. How can we stop this now?

Question 2: How Can I Stop Tantrums When My Child is Told No?

Mary: So it is tough. And in the beginning, when you're just learning what to do? To be as positive as possible, to be the giver, to be the yes man constantly and not to say no constantly, you have to consider not only the child's age, but their developmental age and learning rules and learning when they can have things and when they can't. It's kind of a tough concept. Like, so again, we're going to have to look at not just when told no, they drop to the ground, they become aggressive.... Time of day it happens. First of all, we usually ask if somebody says in our closed Facebook community, somebody says, my child, you know, if I tell them no for candy, they drop to the ground and are lunge out, try to bite me or try to grab the candy or whatever. What should I do? Well, first of all, we need to know. Age like chronological age, but also their ability level. So telling, you know, if this three year old is functioning at a nine month old level language level, they're going to understand less about candy later. Or no, you can't have candy because you're allergic or, you know, so you. So even if you have a 15 year old functioning at a two year old level, they're not going to understand exactly. When they could have it or why they can have it or what the alternatives are, so we usually write back, say what's the child's age ability level and how far into the courses are you? That's always the the best thing to do because these courses are laid out so that we can show you how to assess how to plan, how to teach and how to keep easy data so you can evaluate whether you're teaching procedures or working. So everything every question we get can be funneled through the four step turn autism around approach, assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation. So it's not just about accepting no, it's really about how. Preventative, are you? How much table time? You know, if you're not doing any table time and all you're doing is trying to keep the peace, which I know is hard, if you have multiple kids or a pure teacher in and you've got eight kids in your class and they all can't accept no. And you know what? You know, they're all non-verbal and they're not potty trained. But the answer isn't to get them to learn. I said, no, the real way we need to to tackle this, any situation, whether it's at home or at school or in the community, is we need to teach the kids that we are a source of reinforcement. We are positive. We use 8 positives for every negative. We are the givers. We are not the takers. We are the yes people. We're not the no people. And so the child, when you do have to say no is going to be more accepting of the situation. And one other thing is, if you do have to say no that they can't have this, you should have alternatives there. And we talk in my book Turn Autism Around, I talk about the Shush label and give procedure. So if the child is is screaming for candy and he's allergic to it, he can't have it. You don't have any. Whatever the situation is, it's another kid's candy from the table, you know, for lunchtime and snack or whatever. You can still use the Shush label and give, but you can't give the candy, but you can give an option of another thing you know the child will like. But you have to get quiet. They have to get the child quiet first before you start negotiating or offering other choices, or trying to explain why they can't have it. So I know, I know, that's like a lot, and I want Kelsey to chime in here. But I think it's a it's a bigger problem than just running and quote unquote accepting no program, which is not what we do.

Kelsey: Yeah. And I mean, you have a video blog on this if people want more detailed information. But one thing I did when my kids were young was make my life easier and make their life easier. I mean. If you have knickknacks all around the house and you're constantly saying, no, no, no, no, don't touch, don't touch, don't. Yes, we want to teach your child that. But if you especially if you have a delayed child who's around six to nine months old developmentally or you know. You're where you're working on an uphill battle, and for me and what I try to tell clients is like, this is their home, this is your home. Let's try and also adjust the environment so you don't always have to say no. So you're not always harping on them. It's more, you know, if they're if you're always saying no to cookies and your cookie jars on the counter, maybe we put the cookie jar in the cabinet out of sight, out of mind. You know, that's always grabbing the remote, but the remote's up high somewhere instead of on the coffee table, you know, and also catching a child being good. So instead of, no, you can't jump on the couch. No, you can't do this. No, you can't. OK. Oh, you're playing on the floor. You're jumping on the floor. That's great. Let's jump on the floor together and let's dance on the floor. Wow. I really love how you're doing that and praising what we want to see instead of always being like, No, no, no, because often we get questions like Why child? I'm telling my child, no, and they're just laughing and continuing to do it too. And that's part of this is like. And then when you do have to say no offering like Mary said choices. And if they do scream and cry know that that is also typical whether your child has autism as delayed or not. Kids are going to have tantrums. They're going to be upset sometimes we can be there for them, but that doesn't mean that we necessarily have to give it to them. Sometimes it's just, no, we can't have that and that stinks and I'm here for you, but we can't have that right now, right?

Mary: And sometimes if kids really, you know, get aggressive, first they cry. Yeah. And if that doesn't work, they'll start aggression or start flopping. Sometimes we have to actually, you know, you know, if you just ignore it, it's going to escalate to aggression or flopping or more dangerous situations. You might really want to intervene at crying. And just like Kelsey's saying, like, be there for them, tell them, should come on. We'll give you some other options, but you got to calm down. Like, Come on. This is not the end of the world. Let's calm down. And I maybe behavior analysts are listening thinking, Oh, you know, I learned, you know, keep the demand on ignore like we are intervening at a less intense behavior to try to cut it off and turn it around so that we can go back to being positive. And I like what you said about knickknacks. I remember I was on the phone one time with our mom of typically developing kids, and she's yelling at them, screaming at them. I think threatening time out because they ran up her white carpet with muddy shoes on like, Oh my god, as you know, Lucas is literally taking a can of soda and dumping it on my family room carpet. You know, it's like, you know, if you've got knickknacks, you've got white carpet, you know, use gates, use, get a fence, don't have white carpet outlet covers. You know, I have a video somewhere in my course where a kid was kind of at outlet near the table, moved the table away from the outlet, get outlet covers, know, make your life a little easier. And then also remember that kids, especially if they're developmentally under the age of five, which is really our focus here, right? Yeah. And if they're chronologically older, I mean, my son is twenty five years old and he's still functioning below age five level of cognitive and language ability. If they're that they, they're going to need a ton of attention, a ton of engagement and a ton of support. And so if. They can be, you know, on iPads for hours a day, they can't be left alone because then you're going to have to put out a lot of fires. And I know that it's hard, but it's just the reality.

Kelsey: Yeah. So that's really about that prevention. The next question we can get into it. My child will not stay with me when outside or in the community or they run away. What can I do so that they stay with me?

Question 3: How Can I Get My Child to Stay When They Try To Runaway in Public?

Mary: Yeah. Well, Kelsey, was it? Kelsey is actually one of our all time best success stories. And she works for me now. She has worked for me for a few years, actually. But one of her big problem behaviors with Brantley when she first joined my own course work before I knew her interacted with her was he was unresponsive in a lot of ways, but then out in the community, he would dart in straight run in the middle of streets. He's only two and a half and go into water, and she also had Lincoln. And she's a single mom. So before Kelsey even found my course, she was dealing with extreme safety issues with wouldn't stay with her. So I have done a safety bonus video, I have done safety podcasts and so we can link that in the show notes. But first and foremost, we got to keep kids safe when when they're out. If it takes two to one support to keep the kids safe and if it takes only going to playgrounds with fences, if it takes not going to playgrounds at all, not going to stores with your child at the moment or this week or this month or until you can get. I mean, one of the keys for Kelsey, and I think we're going to do a top five questions about table time. But part of my turn autism around approach is it is a heavy focus on establishing table time, even for very young children. But once Kelsey started table time and really started the early learning materials like the Shoebox and Potato Head, and Brantley learned that coming towards Kelsey for reinforcement not running away was really beneficial to him. She was able to really pretty quickly. I mean, she would show videos of Brenly out out side with Potato Head and getting close to water, and now he's like a pro with every, you know, dangerous situation. So I'm sure you have a ton more Kelsey. But you know, there was a point when early on and she describes this in podcast three, where, you know, before she even took my course, she had to use a leash and a harness to keep them safe. You know, you might have to strap kids into strollers and there might be people who are like, Oh my God, I don't say that. That's horrible, too. Well, it's also horrible to have, like one of my former client clients drowned. You know, I know of a child with autism who got hit by a truck and killed, you know, like. We have to keep our kids and our clients safe, so.

Kelsey: Yeah, you have to. Yeah, my. So like you said, when I think about a question like this, it's less about how can I stop it in the moment and more? How what skills are missing? How can I help? And the like you said, the first step for me. If your child's not listening to you at home, they're not going to listen to you and the greater world where there's all kinds of fun things to get into. Like, I can jump in a whole lake of water. You know, there's a lot of reinforcement going on that you're competing with. And if you don't even have any like Bradley went, listen to like give a ball when he was holding a ball with a hand gesture like he's not going to listen to stop. Don't go to the water. Come back. You know, he's not going to listen to those things. He's not going to understand them at that time. So in those situations, you need to do it, Mary said. You need to keep them safe, whether it's with a harness, whether it's with a stroller, whether it's with you. I wore Bentley on my back until he was over 60 pounds. I mean, there's preschool carriers you can get to put them in safe places. If they're older, you might be able to get a special needs stroller approved or a wagon that has a belt. I mean, obviously, as they get bigger and stronger, there's it's harder. But that's the first step is to stop letting the running happen, to stop letting these problems go places where you know you can be more successful. I know Target has like the Caroline cart, where they can sit safely in the cart if you need to go shopping, things like that, but then think about building your table time teaching skills. You know, once we started at home, it was just like we would teach any skill, and I taught Brantley what stop meant. It meant you stock your body. I talk about what come here means, you know, and then we eventually taught. We're staying on the slide. And then he'd get reinforcement for staying at the slide, and he'd get reinforcement for staying on the climbing. And and that's how we built. And I stopped yelling. Brantly's always had poor name response, like a lot of children with autism do. I stopped in the community. Even still, I don't yell Brantley at him. I yell what I need him to do because I don't need him to respond. I need them to stop so he doesn't run off a cliff or something. So, yeah, so those are all things. And I think if you take it as this is just my right now, like the goal is not to be in a harness forever, it's just to be in it while I teach the skills at home. And as you teach skills at home, then maybe you go to a fenced in field and practice stopping and then maybe you go to a non-fans field and practice stopping. So those are kind of the steps for that.

Mary: And chapter three of my new book covers, the whole thing is about safety, and we have tips for safety at home in the community, and that's cool. So check that out. You can get all the free book resources at Turn Autism Around .com, including Chapter one and Chapter two for free. Even if you have an older child, there's a lot in the book that can really help. So, yeah, I think that that was all good. So what's our next question?

Kelsey: The question, I think, is going to have a similar answer to like one and two, but it's my child throws items for the day, sometimes when they're mad, but sometimes it seems like they enjoy it. They're sitting there and they're just throwing things and laughing or smiling. What do I do?

Question 4: How Do I Stop Throwing Behaviors?

Mary: Yeah, Lucas Lucas like to dump things. He like to dump bins of stuff and he like to, you know, dump soda or water bottles if he finds something open. If he'd find pens, he'd scribble on things. So a lot of that was like your all your knickknack. You know, recommendation is don't don't leave open cups around, don't leave markers around it. So we had to get a lot more organized to, you know, prevent like if we'd like to dump things and we had to have those things high up on shelves and those sorts of things. I remember when our consultant first started, when we first started ABA and not the verbal behavior approach she had, actually. I mean, she was an awesome consultant, but she said, Why don't we try this, which I don't know that I've ever talked about on the podcast or even on our courses. But she said, You know, why don't we say, OK, you can dump this one thing? I remember it was like a set of barney flashcards. Yeah, and and that was a reinforcement. And so he'd do whatever we want him to do, and then we'd hand him the the the cards and say, you can dump it and he'd dump it. And then we didn't. And then if he dumped. If he dumped those or if he dumped anything during therapy, we would not... A lot of people are like, Oh, you need to clean that up, but then it's attention and they're getting out of quote unquote work, although we don't use the word work so it can turn into this really vicious cycle. So we just ignored other dumping. And then at the end of the session, we'd be like, OK, now we need to clean up and we we'd have him help us clean up. So we got some reinforcement which enabled him to dump some things. We also you could use something like a bucket of rice, which we obviously don't want them to dump, but we could get cups that he could dump or pour into, like bath toy kind of things. So in the bath, we could have a safe places to dump. We could take advantage of his dumping. And then also remember, dumping is a cause and effect. And so a lot all of our early learning materials are cause and effect. The shoe box, you put the shoe box, the trash card in the slot, it disappears. We do use in bin type toys, which are, you know, seem so young, like, why would we use a hammer and a ball for five year old? Well, it's they're developmentally a one or two year old. They're going to like that kind of thing. They're going to like to dump things. So let's look at activities that actually we can praise them for for that love of dumping.

Kelsey: Yeah, yeah. And I and I think the same would come in to throwing items. And I mean, if they're throwing things went mad or when told no or something doesn't go their way again, this is the same as biting. We want to position things, so there's not a lot around they can throw or bringing them to their bed with you and giving them pillows they can throw or something they can throw when they're upset.

Mary: Beanbag toss back, throwing baskets, basketball in a net, a nerf ball throwing that kind of thing. These are things we throw. And when they, you know, now, if they are like clearing off desks, throwing, you know, food. Yeah, OK. Again, we we are not going to give you reactive strategies because you got a whole lot more going on than throwing food or clearing desks if you've got that behavior. So we would take it all the way back. Have you done your one page assessment, one page plan, your language sample? Do you have early learners materials as well? We will meet early learners, Yoshi's to quote unquote high functioning for that. Oh no. You might. And it doesn't matter what the chronological age is. I mean, maybe you don't need to go all the way back to, you know, the early learning materials. But if if you have a child of any age that's swiping desks, you need a whole lot more reinforcement, a whole lot more assessment and teaching strategies that are revolving around eight positives to every negative.

Kelsey: Yeah, yeah.

Mary: And you know, if you are in the toddler preschool age professional or parent to join a free workshop and think about joining our online community. And if you've got any child or clients over the age of six, you definitely join our verbal behavior bundle because this is, I mean, this isn't just like cutesy. Let's stop throwing. This is their whole life. The whole trajectory of where you're going to go if they're throwing food or clearing desks is pretty emergent that you get an emergency, that you get better teaching going.

Kelsey: Yeah, yeah. And I would agree with that. Even if even if you have a child who's throwing for fun, that's the type of stim, it's a cause and effect thing. They just don't know what else to do. The more we teach skills at the table, the more we can engage them through the day. The more when you are busy and it's OK to throw only having soft toys out that are OK to throw like these are all things we can do, but but it is. You do have to be really careful if you have a child who is just throwing because they don't have anything else to do. Giving a lot of attention because they're and engaging them after they throw can be really make it go up. So definitely finding ways to prevent it before it happens.

Mary: It's a no matter what the function and no matter what you know, you're going to get throwing. So you get throwing it at school is probably going to be a mixture of escape from difficult tasks and attention. And that's a messy, double multiple function going on and you know, need a whole lot more assessment and planning. And when I say a whole lot more assessment planning, I'm talking a one page assessment that will take you 10 minutes. I'm not talking about going for, you know, I mean, obviously, if you have severe problem behaviors and you have funding and you have resources an FBA would be a very good idea. But I remember my last years of doing independent FBAs. I would insist that if you're going to have me in for an FBA, guess what? You're going to have to pay me to do a VB-MAPPto because I'm not just going to talk about problem behaviors, it's always skills based. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kelsey: And I think again, I'm going to read number five, but I think it's pretty similar to the rest of these and that my child is jumping on the furniture and climbing all over the house to unsafe places. How can I stop this? I mean, I think that ties in to a lot of the same things as throwing. And what we talked about was safety outside is keep them engaged, keep them doing stuff. Climbing is really fun for a lot of kids. And the reaction they get because now they're on top of a dresser, it's obviously big. And so a lot of what we said about throwing but Mary, there's also safety concerns, like making sure dressers are attached to the wall, making sure all furniture are secure and really teaching skills. Assessing, trying to remove things they could climb on. I remember really goes through lots of weird like he cycles through behaviors. I mean, we can say, let's get rid of behaviors and new behaviors are going to come up. One of them was actually. Climbing the fence outside, which is obviously dangerous, we have locks on the gate, but one of them was climbing the fence. But I remember what I did was I put like a piece of plywood only for like three weeks. So there was no way he could climb that fence. And then he forgot about that behavior and moved on. So a lot of the time. The more we can just we can prevent by using gates in the kitchen of their climb, in the fridge by, you know, making the furniture less fun to jump on. Maybe we put stuff on the furniture so that they just don't get access to that. Sometimes that's the fastest way to stop it.

Question 5: How Do I Stop Unsafe Jumping and Climbing?

Mary: Right. And we recently did a podcast episode and a whole case study with Michelle C, which is one 64, and we're going to link that in the show notes both her episode as well as the case study. But I know in that episode, she said, like when she was making dinner, chopping things up, she would have her kids like if they were small enough in an infant carrier, if they were in a high chair, if they were, you know, sitting on a high stool and like giving them something to do there if they could be involved with it. But even if they were an infant, she would have them up on the carrier watching her and she'd be like Apple and she'd be talking to them as she was cutting. You don't have to think about like 24 seven or obviously they're going to be sleeping some of that time. But waking hours, you know, we we talk about engaging kids during most of their waking hours. That's like 100 hours a week. So we recommend little 15 minute table times and going up from there, but also in the natural environment. Keep your kids or your clients with you. You know, if you're in a school, kids love to be involved with like our erasing the chalkboard or helping or sorting or just playing quietly but near you so that you can give them attention so that they're not in the other room, you know, especially if they're climbing or doing dangerous things. You're going to want to, you know, and you might think, Well, I work from home. I, you know, I'm busy. I have multiple kids think about if you can afford it hiring a babysitter or a mommy's helper. If you've got older siblings, you can teach them how to engage your child appropriately. You know, look for church volunteers if you have parents or aunts and uncles or lonely older people who who are just looking for something to do. I mean, use as many resources as you can and get creative. And I know lots of parents without really many financial resources, you know, have to be creative to look for ways to help you engage your kids. But I think those all go right hand in hand to really just funnel everything, every problem through the four step turn autism approach, assess, plan, teach and evaluate and really spend 95 percent of your time preventing problem behaviors. If you're not familiar with the courses, you can buy the mini course. No More Timeout .com for all the details on that, you can attend the free workshop if you want to join our full course where you get a community with Kelsey and other Facebook advisors and myself. And there are some times and we're going to be generating podcasts like this. Hopefully, if you like this podcast, we love an Apple review. We haven't gotten a lot of reviews for podcasts lately. We'd love Amazon reviews or any kind of reviews, and you might think, Oh, Mary, on the top of these reviews really do help, especially if they're five star, obviously. But leave an honest review. But if you like something, it really would help to to leave reviews because it helps the algorithm get our message out to so many other parents and professionals out there who really do need it. So check the show notes are going to be loaded with all kinds of great things. This was a lot of fun, Kelsey. I, yeah, went well and I think we can try to do another few of these and see how it goes, but we get a lot of questions. Kelsey probably answers, I mean, 20 questions a day.

Kelsey: At least, at least yeah if not more.

Mary: For herself and then we have others. So we're answering a lot of questions with our closed community. If you're out there, you know, just getting started or wallowing or stuck, consider joining us because we we really we're going to, you know, be producing these podcasts. But if you want to learn something quicker, more efficiently, the best place to do that is through our full online course. So I hope to see you there. Check out the show notes. Thanks so much for your time, Kelsey. It's been fun and you just do an amazing job as our community manager, so I want to thank you for all of your hard work over the years.

Kelsey: Well, thanks for having me, it's always fun to get different lenses on these questions.

Mary: Yeah. OK, have a good one.

Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at, where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism. And you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again, go to For all the details, I hope to see you there.