Autism/Behavior management


My three year old autistic boy cries when I go to shower. He screams and bangs the door down. What should I do?

Onita, I'm sorry for the delay. I did answer your question the day you posted it, but the system informs me that the answer did not go through. We'll try this again.

Small children do not yet have the concept of "object permanence", meaning that when they can't see something, they believe it is no longer there. Depending on your son's stage of development, he may not yet understand "object permanence" and may truly fear that when he can't see you, his mom has gone.

But, you do need a few minutes to yourself and he'll need to get used to having you out of his sight for longer and longer time periods.

I would start by creating a social story of simple pictures, even stick figures of your son playing with a toy while you are in the washroom. Explain to him that he'll play for a short while they you'll return and play with him.

Can there be someone else in the house who can help you? Go over the story you've created a number of times with him. Then, when you're in the washroom, have the other person review the story in a calm voice. Have the other person remain calm, and non-reactive to his upset and like a broken record, repeat over and over that mommy's having a shower and will be out to see him soon. He's all right and can play until you come back.

A time timer is a handy tool when working with kids with autism. It's a portable clock - you set the amount of time, say fifteen minutes, and a patch of red appears denoting the fifteen minutes. As time passes, the slice of red becomes smaller until the time is up. Some time timers will emit a beep and some are silent. You can take a look at them here:

When he's upset like this, try not to react. Don't cuddle him or reinforce his fears. Remain calm and matter-of-fact. Mommy must be behind this door for a little time but then she returns.  I know that this is extremely upsetting for you and for him, but it will get better.


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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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