Let’s #CelebrateDifferences in honor of National Autism Awareness Month!
According to Autism Speaks, “Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” There are many subtypes of ASD. Autism isn’t a single condition but a series of behaviors or cognitive challenges that affect each person differently. This also means an individual may (or may not) require additional support from a family caregiver or PCA to live independently.
Read on for seven ideas to help your child with autism thrive.
1: Try New Things
As we’ll discuss below, structure is important for children with autism, but it’s also vital to expose your child to new experiences. For example, take your child with you for everyday activities such as running errands. These might be challenging at first, but over time they will become more comfortable for your child. You can also involve your child in activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as hiking, listening to music, and caring for pets.
2: Network with Other Parents
Raising a child with autism can be an overwhelming experience, depending on the extent of your child’s needs. Carve out some time to join a parent group with families nearby. Support groups can also be online. This can be a great way to share advice and information with others who understand what it’s like to have a child with autism.
3: Provide Structure and Consistency
Children with ASD may have a hard time taking the things they’re learning in a setting like school or therapy and applying them to their daily life. Try to create consistency between these different environments. A set schedule can also be very helpful, since children with autism are often the most comfortable when they can predict their routine. When a new experience or lesson needs to be taught, do so with consistency and repetition.
4: Connect Non-Verbally
Whether your child with ASD is verbal or non-verbal, finding ways to connect without words is a rewarding experience. Use touch and facial expressions to reinforce what you’re trying to communicate. You can also observe your child’s body language to decipher what they’re trying to communicate when they are unable to use their words – right before or during a tantrum, for example.
You can also pay attention to your child’s sensitivities to sensory experiences, such as light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Learn what sensations are troubling or comforting to your child, and use that information to help your child thrive in their environment.
5: Create a Personalized Education Plan
As a parent of a child with ASD, you will likely have access to special resources and programs that will help your child thrive. Work with your local school district, county programming, and/or your child’s doctors and therapists to create a personalized autism treatment plan.
Every child with autism is different, which means that the parents in your support group will likely be trying different treatment plans with their children. It’s OK to have an individualized plan. It’s just key that you are actively involved in this treatment plan so that your child is successful.
6: Focus on the Positive
All children respond well to positive reinforcement! Praise your child when they do something correctly or respond well to a new situation. Make sure you provide specific feedback on what they did, so they know what you are praising. You can also try a reward system with your child, such as stickers or extra time doing an activity they really enjoy.
In addition, it’s important to focus on the attributes in your child that bring you the most joy. Focus on these positive traits and reinforce accordingly.
7: Take Care of Yourself
If you’re happy and healthy, this will spill over into your relationship with your child. Take care of yourself by setting aside time for self-care, time with other adults, and activities like support groups or counseling.
Best Care is Here to Help!
At Best Care, we strive to remain current with new and innovative ways of caring for those in need of support. Autism spectrum disorder affects roughly 1 in 68 children in the United States, and this month we recognize the importance of promoting awareness and acceptance for those children living with autism.
For more information on how home care services can be beneficial for those with ASD, or if you have any questions on how Best Care can help you find the services you are looking for, connect with us at 651-330-2550 or email@example.com.