If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they have special needs. You want to be able to meet the needs as best you can, but you’ll need some professional help.
Board-certified pediatric neurologist Dr. Charles Niesen, and our team at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, treat children with ASD. We provide you as the parent with many types of resources to help your family function well and help your child thrive. Following are five ways to help your child with ASD.
Your child with ASD has trouble making sense of the environment around them. By creating a daily and weekly schedule involving the basics like getting up, eating meals, going to school, picking up toys, and going to bed, you help your child feel secure in what’s coming next. Place the schedule in a visible place where your child can see it coming and going in your home.
Your child may balk at any change to the schedule, but inevitably there will be some alterations. Take time to prepare your child for an upcoming change. Have them participate in adapting the schedule.
Help your child transition from one activity to the next. When possible, set a timer for when an activity is going to end for the afternoon or the day rather than when your child is finished with it. Having a timer at the end of the activity helps teach your child transitioning skills.
Your child may have difficulty following a multi-sequence step of instructions. Keep instructions short. Fewer words are better than many words. Avoid speaking fast and stringing words together.
If your child has auditory processing issues, you need to allow time for them to act on an instruction. Break down tasks into separate parts and help your child focus on one part at a time.
Keep your language positive. Say, “Walk on the sidewalk,” instead of “Don’t walk on the grass.” Be generous with praise.
Having a child on the autism spectrum is challenging and can be frustrating. Does your frustration show through your nonverbal communication? What expression do you use when you look at your child? Is your tone of voice kind?
Use gestures when speaking to your child. If you ask them to wipe their shoes on a mat at the door, mimic the action when you ask. Point to a chair in the doctor’s office while you ask your child to sit down in it. Clap your hands, smile, and nod yes when your child follows a direction. Reinforce positive behavior.
Your child may have sensory integration disorder as a part of ASD. Find out what triggers irritability or tantrums in your child and adapt their physical environment when you can. Perhaps your child’s triggers are bright lights, loud noises, crowds, or even smells.
Having a weighted blanket handy can help your child calm themselves when they get overstimulated. What color does your child love? Use that color in your child’s room and elsewhere in your home. A special box with favorite items can help your child overcome a trigger.
Sit on the floor with your child as you play games and engage in activities. This way, they can learn from watching you. Engaging in back-and-forth communication, both verbal and nonverbal, is most effective when you’re at eye level.
Finally, don’t try to parent a child with ASD by yourself. You need support. It really does take a village to raise a child with special needs. Call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today if your child has ASD.