Please be aware that this section contains information prepared in 2009 and may now be out of date. Some links may no longer work. We are reviewing this section.
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What is behaviour?
Behaviour is what we say and what we do. Sometimes we say or do things to get what we need and sometimes we say or do things in reaction to events that happen around us. We are all different and we all say and do different things in different situations.
For example, if you are thirsty, you might make yourself a drink (doing something) or ask someone else to make you a drink (saying something). Or, if someone was being unkind to you in the playground you might run away from them (doing something) or tell your teacher (saying something).
Being on the autism spectrum means that sometimes it is difficult to say what you need or choose the appropriate way to react to a certain situation. When people find it difficult to say what they want or how they feel, they often do something instead – and this action is seen by others as a form of communication.
For example, if you are thirsty but you find it hard to ask for a drink, you might show someone your cup or point to the water tap. Or, you might find going to a new place or meeting new people difficult or frightening. If you find it difficult to tell someone about your fears, you might run away or do something else to show you are frightened and anxious.
People in your world (your parents, carers or teachers) might talk about your ‘behaviour’ a lot because autism is often called a ‘behavioural condition’. This means it is something which affects the way you behave around other people and in certain situations. Some types of behaviour – for example running away, hitting someone, breaking things, hurting yourself or shouting – can make parents or teachers worried about you. People who don’t know you can find this sort of behaviour difficult to understand. Your parents or teachers will want to try to help you manage this behaviour so you don’t hurt yourself or people around you and so that you can make yourself understood.
Who can help you with your behaviour?
It is important to learn which types of behaviour are right for which situations. Your parents and teachers can help you with this. If you want to talk about your behaviour or if you are worried about the way you behave in certain situations you can talk to the Autism Helpline, a confidential helpline for people like you.
If you want to find out more about autism and the way it can affect your behaviour there are a few websites you can visit. These are also listed below.
If you have a brother or sister who is having problems with their behaviour, you can find out more about autism from several organisations. These links are listed below.
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Autism Helpline (0845 070 4004) supports people with autism (including Asperger syndrome) and is confidential.
Back to topInformation for children and young people:What is autism?
Easy to read information about autismWhat is Asperger syndrome?
Easy to read information about Asperger syndromeAutism - information for teenagers
NHS website for children and young people which explains lots of different health issues including autism
Autism - information for 6 - 11 year olds information from Kids’ Health website aimed at 6 – 11 year olds (Australian website)
Asperger syndrome - information for 6 - 11 year olds information from Kids’ Health website aimed at 6 – 11 year olds (Australian website)Information for siblings of children on the autism spectrum:The National Autistic Society
Information about autism for brothers and sisters of people on the autism spectrum
Information for parents and teachers:Revised guidance on the education of children and young people with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD)
Improving Behaviour in Schools Information from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) about policies to promote inclusion and learning through positive behaviour
Information about DCSF guidance for teachers and school staff
The National Autistic Society A range of resources about behaviours often displayed by children and young people with autism and how to tackle them
Behaviour4Learning Website for teachers and school staff providing access to research and evidence base to inform teacher education
Behaviour Online Website dedicated to providing resources for teachers to help improve standards of behaviour among all pupils
Kids Behaviour Website for parents and those working with children dedicated to understanding and dealing with a wide range of behavioural problemsAutism - information for parents from Great Ormond Street Hospital
information about autism from Dr Hilary Cass, Consultant in Paediatric Disability, Great Ormond Street Hospital
Understanding and managing behaviour problems in children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders
Author: Social Communication Disorders Clinic, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group.
Published by: Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust, Institute of Child Health
Date: Last updated August 2007
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High functioning autism by Sian, age 15 a real life story from a 15 year old girl called Sian about her autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Autism by Christopher, age 10 a real life story from a 10 year old boy called Christopher about his autism
Improving lunchtime behaviour Case study from Teachernet about how to improve behaviour in primary school children at lunchtimes
Meeting the needs of vulnerable pupils Case study from Teachernet about how one school tackled the needs of vulnerable pupils displaying challenging behaviour or truancy
The National Autistic Society A range of case studies and scenarios frequently tackled by the NAS Autism Helpline
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