1. Planned ignoring: Ignore the problem behavior, provide specific praise to a student who is in close proximity to the child displaying the desirable behavior, and then provide positive reinforcement as soon as the child stops the problem behavior and/or starts displaying the desirable behavior.
2. Nonverbal reminder: Use a supportive gesture or visual to gently remind the child of the behavioral, academic, or social expectation to encourage the child to respond appropriately.
3. Verbal reminder: Positively redirect the child to engage in a more desirable behavior by stating the behavioral, academic, or social expectation to encourage the child to respond appropriately.
4. Offer assistance: Provide any necessary prompts or assistance to help the child engage in a more desirable behavior. For off task behavior, this may mean helping the student get started. For behavioral expectations this may mean using modeling/request imitation. It may also mean providing gentle physical assistance.
5. Provide a safe space for de-escalation: If the child is unable to be redirected, allow the child to remove himself/herself from the situation and go to a pre-determined safe space until he/she can come back and participate and engage appropriately.
While this hierarchy would be beneficial for typically developing children and children with disabilities, it is essential for students with ASD. If you use punitive consequences with students with ASD be prepared for an escalation in problem behavior. They often internalize punitive consequence and say things such as, "I am a bad boy!" or "Mrs. Smith hates me!" In order to increase positive behaviors for students with ASD, we have to be committed to explicitly teaching expectations, positively reinforcing them when they meet those expectations, and provide supportive consequences when they are unable to meet the expectations to enable them to respond appropriately. Is the hierarchy I suggest foolproof? Of course not. But it may give teachers an alternative way to look at selecting consequences for problem behavior. I would love to hear some other ideas for supportive consequences...