Extinction is designed to decrease undesirable behavior. It involves the purposeful and persistent ignoring of unwanted behavior. Your strengths in ignoring must be stronger and outlast the strength of your child’s negative behavior. Sometimes extinction is easy to do, such as when you ignore your child’s interrupting you while you are talking. You keep talking and do not look at him, touch him, or acknowledge him in any way. The hope is that if he gets absolutely nothing from you, he will figure out that persisting is useless and he better find another way to get your attention.
Extinction during tantrums is more challenging. Many Asperger’s Disorder children have far more stamina in their tantrums than their parents have in extinction. If extinction is to be effective, you must stay firm in your ignoring. This means no words, no touching, no gestures, and no eye contact. Unless your child is in danger, you ignore him until he stops the tantrum and begins to engage in appropriate behavior.
The instant he uses nice words, apologizes, or begins to comply with your original request, you give him positive reinforcement. The idea is for him to learn that he gets absolutely nothing for inappropriate behavior, but gets positive attention for appropriate behavior.