Useful Parenting Tips for Autism – Part I
Your child’s autism diagnosis may leave you feeling overwhelmed. It is natural to worry about what the future holds for your child. But, it may be reassuring to know that there is help out there. While everyone on the spectrum has unique symptoms, with the help of the right resources and support, your child can live life to their full potential. Here are a few parenting tips for autism to help you get started on your journey:
1.Educate yourself about Autism Spectrum Disorder
Learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorder will make you better equipped at making informed decisions. There are several excellent online resources and books on autism that can help you with this. Ask questions and exercise discretion while making therapy decisions. Observe your child and try to understand what triggers certain behaviour. This can prevent your child from being put in uncomfortable situations.
2.Pay attention to non-verbal cues
Your child may not speak, but they are still communicating with you through non-verbal cues. Pay attention to your child’s facial expressions, gestures, and noises. They can communicate their hunger, fatigue, or other needs through these non-verbal cues. Similarly, you can also convey your message to your child using your tone of voice, by touch, body language and by the way you look at your child.
Children with autism may have their own way of communicating their frustration and needs. You may be clueless about how to deal with their meltdowns in the beginning. Try figuring out the reason behind their tantrums. Provide AAC to them as early as possible. Research suggests that AAC helps children express their wants and needs and enables them to communicate better.
3.Use timers to decrease transitional tantrums
How often has your child thrown a tantrum, refusing to leave their favourite park? Some children have trouble leaving preferred places or activities. Given their aversion to sudden changes, this is especially true for children with autism. Using a timer on your phone to set warnings before a change can help your child prepare for the transition. For example, setting a 5-minute warning to leave the playground or a 2-minute warning before a bath. This gives your child a sense of control. This way, they have time to prepare for the change and transitions can be made much easier.
Children who receive relevant education at key developmental stages are more likely to gain essential social skills. Research proves that with adequate support, they learn to interact better with others in society. For children with speech impairments, using AAC apps such as Avaz can help develop communication and social skills. Their ability to communicate helps reduce frustrations that result from an inability to express themselves.
5.Focus on strengths
Despite their challenges, some children on the autism spectrum may have extraordinary capabilities. Some have detailed long-term memory and strong visual and auditory learning capabilities. Others excel in Maths, music, and arts. Focus on your child’s unique skills because it can provide them with a sense of achievement. This lets the child know that they have valuable skills and contributes to their self-worth.
By shifting the focus on the child’s talents rather than the disorder, you are sending a strong message to the child that you trust in their abilities. This encourages them to invest their time and energy in their hobbies and passions. Acquiring and honing these skills not only keeps them engaged but also boosts their self-esteem.
6.Make time for fun
The frequent visits to the doctor and long sessions at the therapist’s can stress your child. Remember that your child needs time for fun and leisure just like any other child. Look for activities your child enjoys such as swimming, music, animal therapy, etc. Set up playdates with other children where you can monitor them.
You can also use Avaz in fun activities such as storytelling during bonding sessions with your child. Add images related to the story in advance and ask questions related to the pictures during narration.
Positive reinforcement is widely used for behavioural interventions. It is done by rewarding your child when they learn a new skill or when they behave well . However, it is important to be very specific about what behaviour you are praising your child for. Instead of punishing undesired behavior, the focus should be on recognizing and appreciating their good behaviour. The positive reinforcer need not be a toy or candy. You may find that children respond well to positive attention and verbal praise. Choose the reinforcer according to what has motivated the child in the past.
Children with autism can have behavioural problems. By being observant and persistent, you can help them face their challenges. As parents, you play a major role in the lives of your children, So, being in the know of useful strategies and interventions can enable your children manage their difficulties better.
Help a friend or family member diagnosed with autism get started on their journey by sharing this article with them! And if you have any parenting tips for autism that could help others, don’t hesitate to share in the comments down below!
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