Not sure how to handle you child with autism when they are whining and crying? We know that sometimes emotions can run wild, tantrums can be triggered and tears, screams, fights and floor pounding can come at you from every direction. We also know that a lot of this behavior can be triggered by one very small but very powerful word “NO”!
You can’t always give your child on the spectrum what they want and you can’t live your life in fear of a two letter word.
Here are some alternative ways to tell your child with autism that they can’t have something they want that might be more effective than the word NO.
· I wish we could, but we can’t.
· That’s not the best choice. What do you think would be a better one?
· Let me show you how to do it.
· I know you want to, but we can’t right now.
· I can help you.
· Maybe some other time.
· Let’s try something different.
· Please come away from there.
· Is there another way to do that?
· Not right now, but maybe later.
· Sure but first you need to…
· Do you think that is safe?
We found that spinning a positive take on the dreaded one syllable word NO can turn a tantrum into a lesson and that along with a phrase like “not right now, but maybe later, can stem a conversation about making right choices, doing the right thing, and learning patience while knowing that eventually you can get what you are asking for if it is appropriate, safe, and after you have done the things that are requested of you to receive a reward.
Tis the season to be jolly, to get together with family and friends, to worry about what will happen when your child with autism has schedule changes at school and at home due to the holidays.
Here are some ways you can help your child on the spectrum handle routine changes.
1. Use Visuals – Your child with autism is used to following a specific routine, so when schedules shift and change it is best to prepare your child for these changes by gradually making small changes to their schedule. Using pictures and lists to showcase their days and go over what is planned, will prepare your child on the spectrum in advance for what they can expect that day. It is always a good idea to go over where they will go, who they will be with, what they will be doing, etc. when it comes to any change in schedule. This will help them be prepared for what to expect.
2. Prepare Children – Expected and unexpected changes can happen on a daily basis, not just over the holidays. When a routine change is expected you are able to prepare your child with autism by using visuals, stories, reminders etc. For unexpected changes it is important to practice in advance. Roll playing what to expect at a family dinner, holiday party, at the mall shopping for gifts, or anywhere else you may end up is important for your child because once you’ve explained to them what can happen, showed them how to handle these types of situations and practiced different outcomes with them, you are able to ease some of the stress they may feel should a similar situation arise.
3. Use Transition Objects – If your child with autism is having a difficult time transitioning from one part of their routine to the next, use a transitional object to represent the activity change. If you are going to the store, let your child hold the grocery bags, or a copy of the shopping list to involve them in the next activity. Asking your child on the spectrum what they want to do next is also a good way to transition them. Once you know what they want to do, you can always offer to do their activity after the next scheduled stop. Allow time for them to do things they like when in a new environment. It is also a good idea to make sure they have something that is familiar to them when in a new environment like a small toy, book, or picture that comforts them.
Routines provide the structure many children need for moving through the day. These tips can help you transition your child on the spectrum from their daily school routine to a more flexible holiday routine. All they need is a little practice and all you need is a little patience.
If you have ever seen your child with autism have a major public melt down, you are familiar with that uncomfortable feeling you get. In that instant both you and your child on the spectrum have lost control, other around you are watching, judging, and all you want to do is grab your child and run away. Then there are those situations when you can feel like where ever you are and what ever you are doing, your child is showing signs of a tantrum to come and you are secretly crossing your fingers that it won’t happen.
Well now you can prepare yourself by knowing exactly what to do in order to prevent the tantrum before it even starts.
- Learn what triggers their tantrums: Watch and jot down the things that typically sets your child with autism off in public. By learning the trends, situations, time of day etc. that trigger your child’s melt-down behavior, you will learn how to prepare for it and eventually avoid it all together.
- Plan in advance: Once you have figured out what triggers your child with autism’s tantrum behavior, take the necessary precautions and steps to create a game plan ahead of time to dodge a potential meltdown. Prevent unpleasant breakdowns by explaining what you are going to be doing ahead of time. Remember, it is much easier to change your errand routine than deal with a child having a full-blown melt down.
- Stop the tantrum before it starts: If you sense there’s a chance that your child on the spectrum is about to have a fit, do what you can to distract them so that you can stop the melt down before it takes place. Stop the bad behavior before it even starts by distracting them. Avert their attention and give them something else to focus on like a simple task, an object they would like, or a funny story.
- Always stay positive: When you and your child with autism on out and they are behaving properly, make sure to compliment them and point out the positive things they are doing. This will empower them to stay on track and will keep them happy.
- Be sympathetic to their wants: Being sympathetic will help your child on the spectrum feel heard and can prevent them from acting out or making a scene in order for their feelings to be validated. Just remember, even though you make it clear that you understand how they feel, it doesn’t mean you have to do what they want.
- Make them feel useful: Go into any public outing with a “goal or task” for your child with autism. Make it so you are doing the errand together. This will make them feel like you are a team, not like they are being forced to go somewhere they don’t want to be. Then reward them for a job well done with verbal praise or even a special treat that you know will make them happy and will reinforce positive behavior on future outings.
- Laugh a lot: Don’t let yourself get stressed out and don’t worry about what others around you are thinking. Your child on the spectrum can feel when you are stressed. Keep things easy going and fun, enjoy your time with your child and laugh. If you are in a good mood and you know what signs to look for, you know when you can continue on or when it’s time to call it a day.