My special needs child is acting out in school: Advice?

My son is Autistic and is currently in Pre-K. He is getting speech, OT, and has a special education teacher to support him in the classroom. For the past two weeks, his teachers have been having difficulty getting him to listen, handle transitions, and even kicking things. Has anyone experienced this? His teachers are now monitoring him to see if it’s a behavioral issue, or sensory since he also has severe SPD. At home, he doesn’t act out but does have a difficult time suddenly doing little things like cleaning up and brushing his teeth. It’s hard to get to the root of the problem when he isn’t vocal enough to tell me. I don’t know what else to do or anything I can do to help him.


This sounds pretty standard with my special needs pre schooler. Some weeks will be great some are nightmares.
A trigger for mine is if anything has changed. New foods? New mom and dad work schedule? Literally any change to routine will throw him off and send him into one of these spells. We ride it out but are also seeking better methods of handling it.

Any changes at home or school? New person people in life. A child maybe bugged him during a transition that a teacher didn’t see and now he having a hard time not sleeping eating enough? It could be anything

Is he getting enough sleep at night time?
My daughter is a high needs child and if she doesn’t get enough sleep or resting enough, this happens with her too.
Just a thought. Good luck! :slightly_smiling_face:

Figure out what’s frustrating him and then make changes. During transitions, he may need more time. Or it may need to be more clear to him. For an example, have the teacher write out what the day will look like so he’s more prepared and knows what to expect.

hope you get through it seems like it’s a hard problem to deal with but you have to do what you got to do that is to act out with him sometime they want special attention from certain people’s so once you act out with him it might get him back on track again just follow through because I have seen it in my nephew

Sometimes full day Programs are too long for children with Autism. Perhaps starting from a half day and working your way up will be more beneficial to keep him engaged.


Sounds exactly like my experience wt my gs- now hes 7 in an out of district school- a good one- that does not restrain<<<<
we got a therapist at home 1x a week since he was 3.5 esp working on transitions- his meltdowns got worse before better/ we also have behaviorists that help in the am and before bed-
he was eligible for all this thru performcare/ now at 7.5 youd never know how awful it was!

Jennifer Lee McGowan

Do they use PECS with him? These are little cards with pictures of everything from a sink and hands (showing him it’s time to wash hands) to what he will be doing next. PECS stands for picture exchange communication skills. It can help kids that are nonverbal because you can also allow them to communicate their choices using the pictures and set up daily schedules they can see. We put little pieces of velcro on the cards and strips of paper with the matching piece of velcro. Sometimes they get super frustrated by change and not knowing what is happening.

I will take him to the Doctor and explain everything that has been going on so there can run some test on him just to be safe, if everything comes back find you might have to see if anyone is picking on him. I pray everything goes well

Maybe working with a visual schedule, and token based system for good behavior.


Look for any change in his life. No matter how small


If it just started could it be something that is going on in school. We really never know what might be going on.

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Have you met with the teacher? My son was in special needs preschool last year and I was convinced he would end up in BD classes because the special needs preschool teacher said that for kindergarten he needed a designated parapro or he would need to be in the BD classes. Well he has now started regular Kindergarten there is a 3rd parapro that comes in for reading and math, but helps multiple kids. He does not have a designated parapro we are almost to Christmas time and he has only had maybe 2 bad days. The teacher even told me she does not understand why he has a behavior goal listed in his IEP because he is better behaved than some of the other kids with no IEP. 100% believe his was a teacher conflict in preschool. My son needs hard structure but made aware that it is okay to mess up every now and then because everyone has a bad day, and that is exactly what his kindergarten teacher gives him. In the preschool there was way too much free time to keep him occupied so he got bored and acted out.

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We went through exact same thing he started preschool when was 3 for this reason because we knew one of his biggest struggles was transitions anything from changing one activity to another coming in from outside so the first year was rough but everyone was really comforting and helpful close to end of the year got better the second year or preschool had some trouble but was a great year over all they used lots of visual schedules and gave him warning that he was about to do something different

I have a 6 year old with severe spd and autism and school is also struggling to support and accommodate his needs.

Could be anxiety? #fellowAutismmom

My friends son is autistic and they have a special sensory room just for that reason it helps him refocus and come back to class and not be disruptive. Soemthing to look into maybe?

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ABA therapy. He may need a school that is specific to children with Autism.


He may be acting “normally”. He,s in a more structured environment now and may be resisting following a schedule…just like normal kids. Since he can’t say his displeasure, he resists. You can try a reward system. Also you might give him a heads up to expect a shift in tasks. Example: OK we will be doing xxxx when the time,bell etc rings.changing tasks may bother him without giving him a warning.

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He is learning a different type of structure, it takes time but it will get easier…

My special needs son had a behavior specialist that would sit at school with him several times a week and keep him on track and she would also see him a couple times a week at home and help him with homework and stuff! She wasn’t from the school, rather a mental health center, but we were able to get her into his IEP. Flash forward a few years and he doesn’t need her help anymore :heart:

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ABA therapy. My friend’s son is three and gets 40 hours a week of ABA. The therapist goes to his Pre-K with him but it’s a private school. Children do receive ABA in public school, too, but I don’t know if it’s as many hours. Visual schedules could also help with transitions.

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Visuals are a great tool

You need to pull a emergency iep meeting but a bip in place. It’s a behavioral plan. Then look into aba therapy for long term. You could even take it one step farther and visit your dd clinic and have the referrals made though them.

That is a difficult age, as some of it could be frustration on his part due to communication issues. Has anything changed in his schedule or even the set up of his classroom? My son was very particular about things like that, teachers loved it because he made sure everything was in it’s proper place. Sudden changes in behavior usually go back to a specific problem. Are there any new sounds or other sensory related possibilities that may have changed. Something as small as a flickering or brighter light or a new smell could be causing discomfort for him. If you are able, maybe go to observe in the classroom. You can read his reactions and mannerisms better than anyone else, I am sure. New activities were also difficult for my son because not knowing what the expectations of him were would make him anxious. Is he getting enough sensory breaks? We had a timer system for my son that was used, started small and gradually increased the length of time and the reward was the break. We were fortunate that the schools really accommodated his needs. They even had swings in the classroom. If it is an issue of having to stay still, I would suggest an exercise ball for him to sit and bounce on. That worked wonders for my son. It will get better as he gets older. PECS were helpful, too, when he was younger.

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My son did this when he was in pre k and in K he then did so much better in 1st grade and now he loves school in 2 ND grade

If they haven’t already, ask about having a BCBA observe & evaluate him. My son always starts acting different when he’s getting sick. He can’t tell me when he doesn’t feel good, but his teacher & I realized his outburst always seemed to coincide with him having sinus problems. ASD kids often have problems with changes, so see if they have made some kind of changes in routine that he’s having to adjust to

My son has autism as well. His first year of school was ROUGH. he was non verbal as well. Teachers/ speech/ ot, all tried PECs (picture exchange communication), first/then, and major routines… etc. I swear it WILL get better :sparkling_heart:

Remember your little one is in PRE-K, things are changing with friends, teachers, schedule, everything. Be there, be his rock, and show him that every step of the way your so very impressed :sparkling_heart: you got this! :sparkling_heart:

Makes pictures for things he needs to do and put numbers on them in order for him to do.