Autism Program Bonus Lesson #7

Bonus Lesson #7 - Summary of Diarising You Child's Behaviour

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Transcript of Bonus Lesson #7 Below:

I hope during this week’s lessons so far, that I’ve been able to highlight the importance of diarising your child’s behaviour as a starting point to changing their behaviour.

Maybe you’ve already begun to see things in your child’s behaviour that you have not noticed before that tells a different story than the behaviour might be telling you.

Hopefully, it’s already beginning to make sense why your child does what they do and what you’re needing to teach them to move them out of problematic behaviour.

The ‘how to’ part is going to be the focus point of the next couple of week’s videos too.

In the meantime, however I want to encourage you to literally print out the Blank Behaviour Data Form I gave you with this week’s video and begin writing notes about what you’re observing.

I know that this can seem like yet another task on your ‘to do’ list, but if we want to move out of those unwanted behaviours that are probably taking up loads of time anyway, we need to make this investigative approach part of that strategy.

Nothing Changes until something changes.

We have to try different things to get different results.

Maybe starting with this diarising exercise could be the thing that gives you the very information you need to take a different approach to what you’ve tried before.

I have seen over and over again, that parents who are on this program are realising things about their child’s behaviour that they’ve never noticed before and so are coming up with some very out-of-the-box approaches that they’ve not tried before.

To someone who has been experiencing problematic behaviours over and over again, this is the hope you may be needing, and it all comes from observing behaviour, asking the right questions and noticing the patterns in your child’s behaviour.

So, in this lesson I wanted to give you a summary of the steps that you need to take when you are diarising your child’s behaviour.

Even if you aren’t going to print that piece of paper out and start writing down your observation, at least try to mentally note what’s going on for your child and try to piece together your findings to make sense of the problematic behaviour.

The key concepts to remember about diarising your child’s behaviour.

  • Every behaviour serves a purpose.
    We are either trying to pursue pleasure or avoid pain. Your child is trying to do the same. Even though the behaviour may not be logical to you, your child’s brain is seeing that behaviour as a necessary way of pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain for them.

  • Behaviour = Communication
    The behaviour is either communicating something to you, or it’s communicating valuable information that helps you to understand why the behaviour exists.

  • Find the source of the behaviour to clarify your AIM – the goal you really need to be working on to change the behaviour.

    We could work on anger management techniques for example, but if the anger serves a purpose and gives the child whatever they’re wanting – power, control, submission from others, then the anger management techniques won’t work.

    But recognise that there is a payoff to the child’s anger and the goal becomes about restoring the power balance in the home, and giving your child another way to get what they are wanting, learning negotiation techniques, communicate better or help them to feel in control in healthier ways.

  • Information comes from what happens Before (Antecedent), During (Behaviour) and After (Consequence).

    We’re not just looking at behaviour. That’s just the end result. If we want to change the result (ie the behaviour) we have to understand the context of the behaviour. We need to understand what was happening around the time of the behaviour and just before, what the behaviour was and what came next (to establish the payoffs or explore the outcome of the behaviour).

    All three of these elements are important parts of understanding why the behaviour makes sense.

You need to become a detective and begin trying to discover the ‘motive’ for the behaviour, what the child was thinking to be feeling and behaving this way and gather evidence as to why the behaviour makes sense.

Then you also need to be the judge and the jury where you can take all that evidence and information discovered and come up with a rehabilitation plan for the child so they don’t keep coming back into the court system (aka getting into trouble or continually displaying problematic behaviour over and over again).


In the week four video I outlined a process you can follow to get clear on the target behaviour or target area you wanted to focus on in your child’s life. These steps were as follows:

  1. Choose an area of your child’s life you want to work on.

  2. Think about what you want to experience in this area, or what you want your child to experience.

  3. If you can’t think about what you do want, think about what you don’t want to experience and try to flip it. Sometimes we find it easier to first focus on the unwanted and contemplate what is wanted from that place.

  4. Think about the goal you have just thought about and see if you can become more specific than that. The mind is a loyal servant and the clearer you can make your goals, the more measurable and visual you can make it, the easier the mind will find it to get you there.

  5. Set your preliminary goal for the area of your child’s life you want to focus on. I say preliminary goal because this goal may change once you do the diarising of the behaviour, which is in the next step.

  6. Why is this goal not already coming to fruition? This is the question you want to ask yourself with curiosity. This is the question that is going to get answered by gathering important data and pieces to the puzzle that help you make sense of your child’s current behaviour and why there is a gap between what is being experienced and what is wanted.

  7. From the information you gather, you may need to refine your goal to more specifically focus on different angles of the behaviour that you didn’t realise needed attention, so your goal may get even more specific than you first outlined.

  8. From this information and with a more specific goal in mind, we can now start to draw better conclusions about what is needed to make that goal a reality.

  9. The final step is to state your goal and start outlining the steps you’re needing to work on to get to the goal. This is something you will do more specifically in the ‘Choices’ step of the process, which we will be discussing in more detail in video 5 & 6, focussing purely on child behaviour.


In step 6 of the outlined steps I just mentioned, we are trying to answer the question ‘Why is my goal not already happening?’

To answer this question, we need to get curious and we need data and information to make sense of the behaviour.

We know that all behaviour serves a purpose and is communicating information to you.

We know that in some way the child’s mind is making sense of that behaviour because the behaviour helps the child to pursue pleasure and avoid pain.

Now we need to start the investigation process so that we can find that reasoning and work out what we’re going to do with that information.

So, in the blank data form I gave you, starting from the left we mark the following:


The date that it happened. It might be worth noticing the day it happened on too. You never know when a pattern of behaviour occurs on a specific day each week, that gets you thinking, “Hmm, why does this behaviour always have lots of data entry on a Monday?” This can give you valuable information.

Behaviour of Concern – What was the problematic event?

This is the ‘B’ Section of the A-B-C of behaviour data collecting. I’ve just put it at the front of the form instead of in between the Antecedent and the Consequence. Write as much detail as possible as to what was happening in the event or problematic behaviour of concern.

What did your child do, say, how long did it last? As much detail as possible about the actual event.

Setting Conditions

This is part of the antecedent that helps you get a gauge on what was going on around the behaviour. Here we are looking at:

  • When the behaviour occurred?
  • Where the behaviour occurred – location
  • What time the behaviour occurred? Or what part of the day did it occur?
  • What else was going on in the environment – what was the temperature like?
  • Was there anything physically important that was going on for the child – what were they wearing? What was going on from a sensory perspective?
  • Other environmental factors – here is where you might document if medications were taken at this time, or if they were wearing off at this time.
  • Who was involved in the incident? One person or multiple people? Who was just around at the time but not involved in the incident?


What was happening before the behaviour occurred? What was the child doing or saying? What events had been happening before the event occurred?

Remember to take into consideration observing the non-verbal communication clues too like:

  • Facial Expressions
  • Body Language & Posture
  • Gestures
  • Eye Contact
  • Touch
  • Space
  • Voice

Try to identify as many elements as you can that could give us information about the set up of the behaviour.


What happened after the behaviour?

How did my child feel? What did they do?

Did they get something they wanted after the behaviour?

Did they avoid something unwanted after the behaviour?

What was their general mood like after the event?

What was their non-verbal communication like – (facial expressions, body language, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch). For example, did they seem proud of themselves or ashamed? Did they seem pleased by the outcome or in a better mood having experienced the outcome?

What happened after the event can often give us clues as to the payoff of the behaviour if there was one.

It can give us clues as to what drove the behaviour in the first place.

Suspected Function / Source of the Behaviour

This is where we try to draw conclusions from the information you have received.

Doing one data entry may not be enough to draw conclusions just yet, but multiple entries on this form will start to highlight patterns that you may not have noticed before.

That can be instrumental in helping you formulate a target goal for you child’s behaviour and find strategies that target the real reason the behaviour exists.

So, in this section this is where you will document your hypothesis about the behaviour.

This is where you may also want to consider asking yourself questions like:

  • Where is my child at cognitively?
  • Where is my child at emotionally?
  • Where is my child at developmentally?
  • What are the family dynamics like and how is my child experiencing them?
  • Is there a payoff to my child's behaviour - ie it either gives them what they're wanting (gain) or helps them avoid what is unwanted (escape)?
  • Does your child even know what the alternative behaviour is?
  • Is your child’s behaviour habitual?

You want to try and make sense of the behaviour in this section of the form.

Remember, what you’re doing here, is trying to interpret your child’s ‘Tommy language’ as discussed in Day 23 – All behaviour = Communication.

Remember the analogy that if you were in a foreign country who spoke a different language and had different non-verbal communication, you would need to get to know the individuals that were part of this foreign country too because everyone has their unique style of delivering typical language and non-verbal communication too.

And if you were in a foreign country working all this out, you wouldn’t always get it right either. It would take you some time to learn the ins and outs of this culture and the person you are dealing with.

The same is going to be said for your child and autistic traits.

Your trying to work out your child’s ‘Tommy language – the culture, the language, the non-verbal communication and why the behaviour makes sense to him or her as the case may be.’

There will be similarities in how autism is present in a child, and there will be unique ways a child interprets their version of those similarities too.

And you are a detective that’s trying to piece together the evidence that makes sense of the behaviours and then works on helping the child to navigate through life peacefully and happily.

Diarising your child’s behaviour is going to be the first step toward gaining the pieces to this puzzle.


Take another look at the blank form from the Week Four Video. Print it out and start filling it in when problematic behaviour that you’re wanting to work on, starts to arise.

If you are completely resistant to writing anything down, be sure to stay in observation mode.

Print out this lesson if you need to and highlight some of the key questions and elements you need to start becoming aware of so you can at least start to get into that detective mode as you’re going through your day.

Even by doing this, you help yourself to stay out of survival mode.

When you’re in curiosity mode, the conscious part of the brain is active so you’re not getting emotionally hijacked.

You’re looking for logic and reasoning behind your child’s behaviour and that focus is going to help you to stay out of that pit of shit and get valuable information instead that will help you to implement changes to problematic behaviour.