Helping Your Child with Autism Thrive
Having a child diagnosed with autism can bring about many overwhelming feelings about how you, as a parent, can help your child develop. And while some treatments depend on where your child falls on the autism spectrum, there are many things you can do at home to help your child thrive.
Research and Gain Knowledge about Your Child’s Specific Condition
The best thing you can do to help your child thrive is try to completely understand your child’s place on the spectrum. Because autism presents itself in an entire spectrum of individual aspects, it’s important to know exactly how it impacts your child. Research and glean from your child’s doctor, your child’s teachers, specialists, and other parents who have autistic children.
Learn Your Child’s Sensory Needs
Many children with autism are also sensitive to sensory experiences. Along with understanding autism, it’s vital to also understand what areas under or over-stimulate them. Keeping a diary is a practical way to take note of what triggers a sensory overload and help manage those areas. It will also help track what treatments work or do not work in soothing and supporting their anxiety.
Provide Structure with Consistency and Routines
Creating a consistent environment at home for your child is a great way to reinforce all they are learning outside of the house. Make a daily routine with regularly-scheduled times for everyday activities such as school, therapy, meals, bath, and bedtime, so your son or daughter knows what to expect every day.
Create a Safe Home Space
Designating a specific place at home where your child can go to calm down is a great way to reinforce the idea of feeling safe and secure. Place familiar objects that your child finds comforting, such as a stuffed animal or favorite blanket. Set up boundary markers with visual clues and make sure the area is completely safety-proofed.
Connect Using Nonverbal Communication
Not being able to communicate via speech can be challenging, but there are ways to talk without speaking. The way you look at your child, touch him or her, your tone of voice, and even your body language are ways of connecting. And if your child doesn’t speak, look for those nonverbal cues they are giving you – facial expressions, gestures, and sounds are all ways of talking to you. The more you pick up on these nonverbal cues, the easier it will become to communicate.
Create a Personal Treatment Plan
There are so many different treatments that you might start feeling overwhelmed trying to find the right one for your child. Remember that each child with autism is unique, and their treatment plan should be too. Your child’s treatment plan should be built on their specific interests, building their strengths, and improving their weaknesses. Keep in mind how your child learns best and what activities your child enjoys participating in – all of these, combined, should be implemented into the treatment plan.
And don’t forget to have fun with your child! You can be so wrapped up in trying to implement all the ways to help your son or daughter thrive that you forget to just enjoy being with him or her. Spend time being silly, laughing, and simply enjoying being together.