Monthly Archives: April 2016

Learning To Behave Properly In Group Settings

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Sometimes fun social events can be very stressful for a child on the spectrum. Group gatherings such as assemblies, plays, places of worship, and sporting events are meant to be fun ways to spend quality time with family, friends, and peers, but when a child with autism has a difficult time functioning in a large group, it is time to figure out ways to help them enjoy they types of events.

Here are some helpful recommendations on how to make a group activity, r event more relaxing and enjoyable for your child with autism:

1. Let Them Know What to Expect: Before the event, provide your child on the spectrum explanations and visual tools of what to expect when they are in a large group setting. Depending on the activity additional expectations could include sing with the group, clap when other people clap, or raise hand to ask a question. You may also want to print out a list of these expectations and give them to your child during the event.

2. Videotape your child’s role playing: Role play different social events with your child and videotape them correctly demonstrating skills. Edit the video to show only correct behaviors and then play the video back to them. While they watch the video verbally point out appropriate behaviors.

3. Practice before an Event: It is always good to practice going to a specific event right before the even takes place. Go through each step from attending the event, proper behavior while at the event, when to cheer, when to listen, etc and what to do at the end of the event before leaving. This can be done at the actual venue or at home or school.

4. Be Realistic: Sometimes no matter how much you plan, some events will just not be appropriate for your child with autism. They may be too loud, slow paced, or too long, your child may not be interested in attending and give you a hard time, etc. When you, your family and your child’s friends throw events it is always important to set realistic goals, that way the event or activity is more pleasant for everyone.

6. Reinforce Good Behavior: Provide your child on the spectrum with positive reinforcement during the event for attending and following rules. Use what is truly motivating for your child to encourage them to continue to be on their best behavior and participate appropriately at the event.

Learning to follow rules and behave appropriately in large group settings such as assemblies, places of worship, or movies can be challenging for many children, but can be extremely challenging for a child that has been diagnosed with autism. Some events repeat frequently and provide frequent opportunities for practice while others may occur every few months or sometimes once a year. Regardless of how often an event or activity occurs, or how many large events your child on the spectrum attends, it is always important to remind them of the skills they have learned in the past and teach them new skills to help them participate, stay relaxed and have a good time, no matter where they are or where they go.

Teach Your Child on the Spectrum to Make Good Choices

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Making the right choices is one of the most important and most valuable lessons you can teach your child on the spectrum. From how they handle difficult situations to what they wear, making choices is a big part of everyone’s lives and is a critical skill to master for independence and self-control.

Here are some ways that you can help your children with autism learn to make good choices and think before they act.

1. It’s ok for your child to choose – Although often times it is easier to make decisions for your child on the spectrum, it is important for you to allow them the opportunity to make their own decisions. All children learn valuable lessons by making both good and bad choices. These lessons are designed to help your child with autism become responsible, independent adults. 

2. Limit your child’s options – Too many options can be confusion for a child with autism. If you keep the number and types of choices limited to two items, they will have an easier time deciding what they want, and it will also open up the opportunity for them to make good choices.

3. Discuss their options with them – When your child on the spectrum is faced with decisions, discuss their options with them to help them understand why one choice is better than another, what the consequences of each choice would be, and why one option is better.

4.  Reward good choices with praise – When your child  on the spectrum makes good decisions let them know what they did and why it was a good choice. Be excited for them and celebrate the moment with a “good job”, “great choice” or a high-five to let them know they did make the right decision. This will help keep them wanting to make more good choices.   

Choice is a big part of our lives. Teaching your child on the spectrum how to make good decisions, and what consequences or rewards come with the choices they make are critical lessons for independence and self-control. 

Strategies for Encouraging Communication

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 As a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with autism, you are always looking for ways to help your child on the spectrum increase their communication skills. Here are some strategies that you can use at home, at school and in the community to help your child increase communication and language skills.   

1.  Children are motivated by things that interest them – Most children on the spectrum are motivated to communicate when they are involved in a conversation about something that interests them, (example: cars/trucks, animals, etc) or when reading their favorite stories, and playing their favorite games. The key to encouraging your child with autism to communicate is giving them a reason to communicate. Ask them questions, use materials and activities that interest and motivate them so that your child is engaged in the activity and wants to talk about it.

2. Don’t jump in to help themAdults naturally want to help children. One of the most difficult things a parent will have to do is pause and stop themselves from helping their child on the spectrum, who may be struggling to speak their mind or answer a question. It is always good to allow your child with autism the opportunity to communicate on their own, even if it means you have to wait a few seconds before either clarifying the question, giving a clue, or saying what you would like them to imitate.

3.  Speak to your child regularly – Model language for your child, during play or other daily activities so that they learn new vocabulary, hear correct sentence structure, and listen to examples of appropriate conversation.

4. Expand on their vocabulary – When your child is learning to say or pronounce a new word, or when your child on the spectrum can only say part of a word, there are always opportunities to encourage more language.

There are countless opportunities to work on communication during the day. Try these strategies above and expand on them to fit your child’s needs. As they get older and more advanced you can always find more ways to increase their language and communication skills.