Tips for Raising Autistic Kids
Tips for raising kids with autism can be helpful in many situations. Parents and professionals face the challenge of meeting each child's unique needs. Kids on the spectrum may have problems with communication, sensory processing and social interactions. However, they also have great strengths that can be used to their benefit.
Encouraging communication is challenging, making this one of the hardest tips for raising kids with autism. Some ideas include:
- Use visual aids as much as possible
- Sign language
Here and Now
Time is a complex topic for everyone and those on the autism spectrum often tend to think in terms of "here and now". Try to break down activities into segments, introducing one transition at a time. Rather than saying, "We're going to the park today" a parent can show:
- Get dressed
- Go to car
- Stop at store
- Go to the park
Children with autism, including nonverbal children, may understand much more than they can communicate.
- Avoid talking as if he or she is not present
- Involve the child in conversations even when no response is given
- Summarize interactions with pictures, sign language or a few key terms
- Give your child a lot of time to respond
Structure and routine are very important but they can be troublesome when they are too rigid. Try to make small changes in routine to determine how much your child can tolerate. Try to use a visual schedule with modifications.
Guiding Versus Pushing
Many children on the spectrum are very resistant to change and they may tend to be fixated on certain subjects or objects. These qualities can be used to motivate kids to improve attention, communication and social interactions. Serve as a model for your child.
Focus on Your Child
It becomes very easy to become frustrated and distracted by people's remarks and unsolicited advice. Keep your focus away from these frustrations and on your child's needs. You are the professional when it comes to your child.
Work with your child's treatment team while maintaining clear communication. The treatment team may include:
- Behavior specialist
- Case managers
- Physicians and psychologists
- Friends and family