Strategies to Implement Replacement Behaviors for your Child with Autism

Many children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have obsessions, routines, or rituals. Some individuals engage in all of these behaviors, while some only engage in one or two. Therefore, it is common for children with ASD to have very specific and strict interests.

Perseverated behavior is described as repeated behaviors in a physical, gestural, or verbal manner. These behaviors include hand flapping, repeated conversation topics, or rocking back and forth. The behavior can cause difficulties in socializing with friends and participating in a classroom setting.

With the help of the student’s support system of teachers and family, replacement behaviors can be taught. Replacement behaviors are behaviors that are taught to the individual to replace the perseverated behavior.

Examples of replacement behaviors could include:

  • Giving the student goals to achieve. “After you finish your math worksheet you can have 5 minutes to talk about Batman.”.
  • Give the student a time frame to partake in the behavior. “At 5:30 you can hand flap.”.
  • Use pictures to show when it is a good time to engage in this behavior. “The green card means GO; you can jump. The red card means STOP, is not an appropriate time for you to jump right now”.

Replacement behaviors may take a lot of trial and error. Remember to ask your BCBA if you have questions or need support. With the help of your child's support system, your child may see a reduction in perseverated behaviors by implementing replacement behaviors.

Resources for Parents 

A helpful resource for parents that would like to “Pull out of the perseveration station” can be found here:

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