How Much Am I Allowed to Discipline My Autistic Child?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

My son is six years old and is non-verbal autistic. I know that the pen is lifted for him as he doesn’t fully understand all of his actions – but that doesn’t make it any easier for us as he can become very aggressive, hurt his siblings and yell at them constantly, even our little baby who is only a newborn.

How can we take care of all of our children without infringing on any of their rights? We are scared to discipline our autistic son too much as we don’t know what is allowed Islamically. We also don’t want our other children to fear him and resent him as we want them to love and protect him and take care of him when we are gone. He is so sweet and loving when not violent.

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for your patience and for wanting to do right by your child. May he grant you patience, support, and ease in this matter.

Discipline

The best thing that you can do is to get a specialist for your child, one of the following or perhaps more than one:

  1. Special education teacher
  2. ABA therapist
  3. Occupational therapist
  4. Autism spectrum disorder specialist

Consult with them on methods to cope with your child, and what disciplinary measures are effective and which are not. I suspect that most of what they tell you will be permissible to implement in Islam, given their expertise, research and experience.

Rights

Learn the rights of all your children here:
Rights of Children in Detail
What are my children’s rights upon me?
Can I Hit My Child?

Tribulation

Because you have a child with special needs in your home, as did I, the other siblings will have to learn that patience will be required. Indeed, they need not tolerate his abuse, but you need to teach them how to cope. They should keep apart from him if necessary, but as they grow, tell them that his outbursts are a part of their worldly trials and tribulations and that you are willing to help them cope.

Show them love, and support, look after their needs, and tell them that you empathize with their pain. After all, when they are all moved out, you and your husband will be left alone with him. Please consider the best course for your child’s development: a support worker, a center, a school, a program, or something that can help him while you get respite because you need it.

Reliance

Rely on Allah, seek His help, ask Him for guidance, and trust that He will send it. Devote yourself to Him religiously, be charitable, positive and kind, and remember that this difficult task is filled with rewards for you, by Allah’s grace. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “There is nothing (in the form of trouble) that comes to a believer even if it is the pricking of a thorn that there is decreed for him by Allah good or his sins are obliterated.” [Muslim]

Please see these links as well:
The 17 Benefits of Tribulation
How Is a Child with Autism Viewed in Islam?
How Do I Deal With a Disrespectful Autistic Brother Who Ruins My Peace?
Bittersweet: A Spiritual Perspective on Special Needs Parenting
Raising Children with Disabilities

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.