How Parents Can Help Children with ASD Spread Their Wings
It’s a common misconception that children on the autism spectrum don’t learn as easily as their non-ASD peers. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as long as they have patient and persistent educators both at school and at home to keep them on track. Keep reading for a few tips on how to help your child on the spectrum spread their wings and experience life outside of the structure of the home.
According to Colorado State University Professor Temple Grandin, children on the autism spectrum need structure and routine. Born with autism herself, Grandin was able to navigate her disability with the assistance of her parents, teachers, and therapists. She explains that, like herself, most children on the spectrum need a predictable schedule in order to stay connected to the outside world. While you’ve likely developed a routine that works at home, if your child is starting school for the first time or will soon be entering a childcare facility, ask administrators to provide a daily schedule and give your child advance notice if that routine will be broken.
Trust and Discuss
It’s difficult for all parents to let go of their children for the first time, but perhaps even more so when a child has special needs. If you’ve done your homework and feel comfortable with the school your child will be attending, you must learn to trust his or her teachers. All public school systems have programs in place for special needs children, and they have certified and specially trained teachers and staff who will nurture and guide your child according to accepted standards.
Remember that it’s your responsibility to let your child’s teachers know if they have any particular quirks and how to handle them. Autism Speaks explains that many children on the spectrum have sensory issues and react negatively to loud noises or new smells. Alert your child’s school about these issues, and work together with their teachers to come up with a plan on how to respond to negative reactions.
If you discover that your child has difficulty communicating verbally in school, consider working with a speech-language pathologist. A speech-language pathologist can help your child work on verbal communication, and they can also teach your child how to start conversations with teachers and fellow students, understand non-verbal gestures and expressions, and guide them through the process of asking questions.
Inevitably, your child will develop into a teenager with autism. And, as Psychology Today explains, autism and adolescence can be a volatile mix. As your teen develops, he or she will be dealing with all of the normal teen development issues on top of their disability. This is the one time of life when you will need to exercise considerably more patience. And again, like other children, your autistic teen may be moody, disorganized and sometimes withdrawn. Keep tabs on his behavior and maintain an open line of communication with their educators.
The Home Works
Regardless of age and outside stimulation, your child still needs a comfortable place to call home. His or her bedroom should be decorated sparsely with a neutral color scheme. But the bedroom isn’t the only place that should be outfitted with autism in mind. Living Autism offers a number of exceptional tips on creating an autism-friendly home environment for children of all ages.
You can also help your child learn to adapt to the outside world by helping them develop their social and communication skills through games that encourage positive interactions and a back and forth dialogue. To give your growing child more independence at home, and so they can learn to regulate their emotions and build their communication skills, consider investing in apps like Touch and Learn – Emotions or Proloquo2Go. If always sharing your smartphone or tablet is a hassle, now could also be the time to purchase your child their own device. The Whiz Cells notes that smartphones and tablets are excellent tools that offer a host of benefits to children with ASD, and this could be a way to help them adapt and communicate more easily. Either can be pricey expenditure for sure, but you can find savings through providers that offer discount opportunities throughout the year.
It’s tough to let your child out of your sight no matter where they fall on the spectrum. But by maintaining an open line of communication with their educators and keeping your home a safe haven, your child will learn ways to thrive.
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