Sharing with others the knowlege I have gained from 15 years of non-stop experience of teaching my autistic son. In this blog you will find explanations and ideas for helping special needs children reach their full potential...plus some personal stories from my son's journey.
1.a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc.: The liquid has the
consistency of cream.
2.steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form,
etc.: There is consistency in his pattern of behavior.
3.agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially
correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing: consistency of
colors throughout the house.
4. the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining
form; solidity or firmness.
When it comes to teaching a child or someone with special
needs, the word consistency is used often by teachers, parents, care-givers and
I have used this word and practice often, as I am the oldest
of 7 children and the mother of two boys with special needs.Working in the special education department
in the public school system has also given me experience with this word and
when combined has provided much experience putting it into practice.
It wasn’t until recently, when a comment was made by someone
charged with the care of special needs individuals, did I figure out what I
believe to be the true meaning of the word “consistent”.
“Why should we even try to do anything with him when he is
in our care?If his mom doesn’t do what
we do here when they are at home, nothing is going to work.”
I was unfamiliar with this sort of defeatist attitude.I mean, don’t get me wrong, working in a
public school the blame is almost ALWAYS on the parents.Whenever a kid does anything, it is the
“They are spoiled.”
“They aren’t made to mind.”
“Their mother does everything for them”
“They just need a
good swat on the butt!”
No matter how true these statements may be in some cases, it
does not disqualify that individual from learning or having appropriate
behavior outside of the home.
This is not to say that parenting doesn’t affect a child’s
behavior because of course it does.It
is obvious in observation which children are held accountable for their actions
and who aren’t;and what parents are
consistent with their expectations and consequences.
When there are inconsistencies, it makes the learning
progress more difficult.They are not
used to the expectations set before them.But it is not impossible.
To have a well-behaved individual, it would be best for that
individual to be surrounded by people who are “on the same page”…meaning all
adults and caregivers interacting with the child have the samerules, guidelines, expectations and
consequences.If they do, the child is
more successful at having appropriate behavior.
But from my experience, if the child IS in situations where
they are“raised” differently, that does
not mean they do not or cannot adapt to a behavior plan.
Each child develops a relationship with the adult caregiver
in different aspects of their life.ESPECIALLY those with special needs….they really see to the core of an
individual and thrive on routine and consistency above all else.
I started working with an autistic child when he was 6 years
old.Although non-verbal, he was potty
trained after only a few weeks and for the next five years never had an
accident at school when I was there or when I took him on numerous field trips.But, when he was with his family, he had
frequent accidents and mom put him in a diaper, and without exception on family
If we used the theory that no matter what we try to teach
when we have a child with us won’t work because it’s not being done at home,
this example above would not be possible.Not only would it make the above example impossible, but it would also
negate any kind of school or therapy program where the individual was not in
continual care by one adult 24/7..
Will the child have a more difficult time adjusting to the
request from his caregivers if he is
used to being able to present certain behaviors?Most likely, but that does not mean it is
This student also sat in a high chair at home and frequently
threw his food and made big messes.He
also climbed cupboards and got into cabinets.At school, he sat independently, ate what he was given, and did not
throw things.The home behaviors were
not seen at school.
A 10 year old girl I knew was as sweet as pie at school. Teachers
loved her. She was a good, responsible student.When she visited her mom, which was very infrequent, she would whine and
fuss like a much younger child and demand she get her way.When she was with her dad, who she lived
with, she was more of a tom-boy and prone to getting into verbal and physical
fights.I observed her in all three
situations and it was hard to believe it was the same child!
I think this also proves that an individual responds to the
relationship built by the parent or caregiver verses the level of
consistency.Her best behavior was at
school, where she probably had the most consistency and the most praise for
A mother came to me whose four year old was terrorizing
their home.He was destroying everything
in his path; and the large two story house looked as if literally the Tasmanian
devil had taken up residence.He was
always naked, screaming and climbing all over the place.There was food ground into the floor in every
room and the bathroom was constantly flooded. Dump trucks were filled with
urine and random poop piles could be found amongst the chaos. The mom could no
longer cope after he had suffocated and drowned family pets, so she spent her
days in the bedroom with the door locked.
I took him to my home for the summer months for about 10-12
hours each day.He wore clothes, ate at
the table, was calm and respectful to objects, people and animals and became
When he went home, he was once again given free rein to do
as he pleased.His mother did not use
the schedule or the directives we set in place in my home and the child
returned to the same behaviors while in her care.
Although he was not in my home as often, he continued to
listen and be respectful while in my care.He learned that our specific relationship meant that there were certain
expectations, rewards and consequences because of the clear consistency in his
Just because not every care-giver in a child’s life is not
“on the same page” does not mean there is no hope or no sense of trying.We can help these individuals by giving them
a chance to reach their full-potential using our own personal consistency in
our daily interactions.
This is more about us deciding to clear goals and objectives
while establishing a meaningful relationship with the individual.
I have read countless behavior reports on individuals new to
my care.Almost all of them do not
exhibit the extreme behavior in the new setting that they did in the previous.
Consistency is within US.This is OUR job.We need to
follow through with what we say.We need
to keep the same expectations daily.There
is no “today I just can’t take this so I’ll give in”.This is SO detrimental ESPECIALLY for
autistic kids.Once they’ve seen your
weakness, they will be sure to push it to that limit and beyond EVERY
time.They need to know you are
sincere.They need to know you mean what
you say.If you make a rule, think it
through.Am I going to want to fight
forcompliance for this EVERY day?Is it necessary and worth it?If it is, do not falter.This is really about US and not blaming THEM.We need to do everything we can to make the
time spent together enjoyable so the individual wants to comply with our