Beautiful Minds Blog
Here are some helpful ways to teach your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, how to communicate their ideas, and use appropriate actions in stressful situations.
- Initial reactions to stressful situations can often be very emotional for a child on the spectrum. Establishing a place for your child to go when they are upset can help de-escalate a potential tantrum situation. Giving them the space they need to calm down and take a break might be exactly what they need to regroup. It is also a great idea to teach your child to ask for a break. Respecting them when they say “Excuse me, I need a break” can make a big difference in how they handle a situation. Practice taking breaks in places where there is no quite area. Learning to step away from a situation and count to ten can make a big difference in your child’s behavior.
- Help your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, learn from past situations. Although some situations might not be avoidable, creating strategies’ or routines to relieve stress can be helpful in reoccurring situations that cannot be avoided. Creating lists, providing visuals, coming up with rules or instructions, and role playing, are all ways to help your child learn from past situations.
- Sometimes finding appropriate stress reducers are great ways for your child on the spectrum to manage their frustration or anger. Squeezing a stress ball or bouncing on a trampoline are great examples of ways your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, can manage their stress levels. Teaching your child the best items to use in a stressful or unpleasant situation can prevent them from acting out physically when they are upset.
- Encourage your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, to write about or discuss the things that bother them or specific situations that stress them out. Dig deep into their feelings by inquiring why these specific situations bother them, so that you know how to prevent, avoid, or react when they come up in the future. This is also a great way for your child to think things through. If your child on the spectrum has a hard time communicating with you verbally, ask them to write down what happened, how they felt, and what actions they think they should take to get through each situation and then use these journal entries to role play each situation to educate them on what choices they have when reacting and what consequences come with each reaction they have.
Communicating ideas, feelings, and interests can be extremely difficult for a child on the spectrum, but with the tips above, we hope to make the communication process easier for everyone.
Cooperation skills build the foundation of a happy life. Children on the spectrum, who acquire several important skills such as sharing, turn taking and following instructions, will have a much better chance at succeeding in school, in relationships, in group-projects/group-play and other extra-curricular activities.
A great way to teach cooperation to children that have been diagnosed with autism is through fun; engaging activities while at home, in school or out in the community. Here are some activities that are sure to help teach your child on the spectrum how to cooperate, while still having fun!
To start off it is important to create rules so that you can properly teach your child to wait, take turns, and follow directions. Some great ways to do this is through activities such as cooking, gardening, and Art. Here, we break down the importance of each activity to further help you understand why they help children on the spectrum learn to cooperate.
Cooking – By turning cooking into a small group or family activity you are able to divide the work and have your child practice skills such as measuring flour or water, counting the correct amount of eggs, pouring liquids, stirring etc. Start off by showing them a written or pictorial recipe and work with them step by step to complete it. By cooking dinner, or baking cookies your child will learn to follow directions, wait their turn and share the responsibility of creating part of a meal that they can enjoy later.
Gardening – Children can be given individual responsibilities while gardening with their parents, siblings or peers. From potting seeds, planting flowers, digging holes and watering, gardening can provide the opportunity for continued cooperation for weeks to come. It is not only a one time project, but a continuous responsibility to make sure the flowers are growing, getting enough water and sunlight, and to make sure there are no weeds growing etc.
Art – Working on a group art project, such as a collage is also a great way to build cooperation skills. It will allow your child to be assigned a task, such as cutting pictures out of magazines or gluing pictures down on poster board and take turns picking what pictures they want to incorporate into the collage and where they want to place them.
Role playing is also a great way to teach your child, that has been diagnosed with autism, cooperation skills and helps then learn to discuss good choices. Role play can incorporate many different subjects, situations, and conflicts.
Decide what you feel your child is struggling with and use role play exercises to help guide them through it, and to figure out the best possible outcome. Reenacting situations and discussing alternative responses will help your child on the spectrum become more cooperative at home, in school and while in social situations.
Lastly it is important to provide your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, the opportunity to practice these skills on their own. Some great ways to do this is to:
Assign your child chores, such as:
Laundry (separating lights from darks and discussing what items of clothing go in what pile).
Putting the groceries away (What goes in the refrigerator? What goes in the freezer? Ask them to create a plan of where things should be put away to keep the refrigerator and freezer organized).
Playing games is also a great way to practice cooperation skills. Many games naturally lend themselves to determining teams, resolving conflicts, and being cooperative. When you encourage your child to play games and discuss the issues that come up, you allow them to practice the cooperation skills that have acquired.
Some great games for this task are:
scavenger hunt – this is a fun activity that requires collaboration and problem solving, and possibly breaking up into small groups and working together.
Games– Board games and card games – can also often be made into team games that require team strategies and cooperation.
Teaching your child the proper cooperation skills will allow them to build stronger relationships, have more social interactions and thrive better in society. Take the time to help your child on the spectrum learn the proper ways to cooperate and watch them obtain the social skills needed to live a fulfilling life and reach their fullest potential.
Halloween is an exciting night and creates lasting childhood memories for both kids and parents. Here are some strategies that will help prepare your child on the spectrum for a night of ghouls, goblins, critters and candy.
The first thing you should do to get your child on the spectrum excited about Halloween and a night of trick or treating is to let them pick a Halloween costume they will feel comfortable in. Some children on the spectrum can be sensitive to face makeup or masks. If the costume calls for either, find alternative ways create the look your child is going for. Glue popsicle sticks to a mask so that they don’t have to wear it on their face but have the option to present the mask if they choose to.
Always try to do a Halloween dress rehearsal before the big night. Have your child on the spectrum put on the complete costume and role play by going to a family, neighbor, or friend’s home and practicing saying, “trick or treat”, holding their basket or bag out and saying “thank you” after they receive their candy. Remind your child to be polite, wait their turn, and take one piece of candy.
It is important to establish your guidelines in advance. Prepare your child with autism for what to expect on Halloween. Let me know what time they will be going trick or treating, for how long they can expect to be out. Explain to them that they can only go to homes with their lights on. Give them specific guidelines of what streets they can be on and the fact that they need to stay near you, a family member or a friend’s parents. Use visuals if it is easier for your child on the spectrum to understand what to expect on Halloween night. Remember to review everything right before you set out to start your evening.
Candy guidelines are also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Children can become very excited when it comes to candy. Set rules on how much candy they are allowed to have in a day. Before you go trick or treating make sure your child on the spectrum knows to bring all the candy home and give it to you so that you can check it before they eat it. Create a chart on when your child is allowed to eat candy and how many pieces they can have.
With guidelines in place and expectations managed, your child will have an incredibly fun night of trick or treating, and you will create special Halloween memories that will last a lifetime.