Beautiful Minds Blog

Errand and Outing Tips for Kids with Autism

Going out with a child that has been diagnosed with autism can be overwhelming for the child and the parent. The child may not feel comfortable in their environment and that may cause them to panic or have a tantrum and their parents are constantly worried about what they will do if their child breaks down in public. Outings don’t have to be scary or cause stress. In fact with the right preparation, outings can be a lot of fun. Here are some tips on what you can do to decrease the level of anxiety in your child when planning an outing.

  1. Let them know what to expect – Setting expectations for your child is a great way to minimize stress and increase awareness of what is happening around them. Start off by letting your child know where you are going and give them visuals so they can better understand what to expect to see when they get there. Take pictures of the places you visit frequently like the park, your favorite restaurant, the mall, your family and friend’s homes etc. Providing this type of support will allow your child to manage outings more successfully.
  2. Involve your child in planning the day – Often parents drag their children with them on errand after errand without allowing them to participate in activities their kids find entertaining. Start your day by letting your child know what you need to do, but don’t forget to allow them to pick a few activities they want to do as well. This way you can get your errands done and your children will be happy because they can (A) be part of the planning process and (B) participate in some fun activities that they enjoy.
  3. What happens if things don’t go as planned – It is important to understand that at times things won’t go exactly as planned. Sometimes your plans will change, other times you will experience delays…It is also important to let your child know if there are changes made to your plans and to help them understand that delays and changes tend to happen. It is always good to have a back-up activity that your child will enjoy in case something like this occurs during your day out.
  4. Ask for assistance/Bring an activity with you– Your child is less likely to break the rules if they are busy. When you are shopping, have them help you pick things out (such as groceries, gifts, clothes etc.)If you are looking for something specific, let them know what it is and have them help you find it. Bring reinforcers, games and toys that they enjoy playing with along with you so that you can distract them or keep them occupied if they start to get fussy. Keeping them occupied and keeping them focused on something decreases boredom and allows for a parent to have additional tome to complete an errand.
  5. GREAT JOB is something all children like to hear – Don’t forget to praise your child for their good behavior. Telling your child they are doing a great job listening, following directions, being kind to others etc. shows them that their good behavior gets rewarded.

Whatever it is that you decide to do with your children, make sure they know what to expect and that they understand that sometimes things change. Involve them in your activities and reward them for good behavior. Most of all learn to be consistent with them so they know that you mean what you say and do what you say. Teaching your child to trust your word is important to a successful day out with your child.

Building Positive Relationships with Peers

Children with autism have a complex nature that is hard for most professionals, parents and teachers to understand, so imagine how hard it is for children to understand the proper way to interact with, and build relationships with children who have been diagnosed with autism. Due to the lack of awareness by peers, teasing and bullying have become major problems at school and affect many children who have been diagnosed with autism. It is important to help your child learn the best ways to react to unkind words and criticism and to know the difference between constructive criticism, teasing, bullying and play. Remember to keep your child’s temperament, age, and their level of communication in mind when working on strategies to help them through difficult interactions in order to build successful relationships and be part of positive social interactions.

Begin by teaching your child self-control to help even out their temperament. Teach them the importance of keeping their cool and reading situations properly. The first thing to focus on is to prevent them from the urge to lash out physically when confronted with a difficult situation. It is important for them to learn how to use their words and to control their energy level.

Teaching your children that it is important to take time to think about a response and to assess their situation is a valuable lesson and will allow them to truly process the situation. Work with them on how to differentiate possible situations and how to read social ques. They should ask themselves questions like: Was the comment they heard truly provoking? Was it a joke? Are they in danger or being bullied? There are many ways that social interactions occur and being able to read the situation properly is very important. Sometimes a simple “Excuse me” or “that wasn’t very nice” is a great responses to social situations that mean no harm. Telling a teacher or parent about a situation where they are getting teased or bullied before starting a fight or reacting in a temperamental way is a good way to handle a potentially more harmful situation. It is very important to understand and determine what an appropriate response to any situation would be and to discuss these responses and possible scenarios with your child.

A great way to showcase several different situations is to role play. This allows you to show your child examples of situations that may happen and practice different scenarios when your child is calm and able to process information. Social stories with visuals are also great tools to showcase different types of social interactions and how they can play out. Making a game out of your social stories can be fun as well. Create several versions of the same scenario and allow your child to pick from a list of options how they would respond. Depending on what they pick, you can change the ending to reflect the consequences of their answers. This will show them both verbally and visually how their actions can affect how others respond. In the end you want to make sure that your child is well rounded, happy and safe and able to interact appropriately with others.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions in 2015?

A new year is upon us and as with the start of every new year, we spend time thinking about our resolutions, what we want for ourselves, or families and our kids in the year to come. This is the time of year that we are the more determined and motivated than ever to make this year a better year than the year before. Since we have started a new year, Beautiful Minds Center thought we would share with you some new year’s resolutions we’ve heard parents make to start the year off in the right direction. So here goes!

  1. I will exercise more and eat a healthier diet, I will cook healthy food for my family as well.
  2. I will try to figure out a way to spend a little more time on myself and with my spouse without feeling guilty that I have not giving my child 100% of my undivided attention.
  3. I will find a way to manage my anxieties, and turn them into motivation and determination to improve being in social situations with my child.
  4. I will try to see the world through my child’s eyes and try to understand their needs from their perspective
  5. I will identify and help my child develop areas of strength
  6. I will get involved in the autism community more by building a stronger support network for myself and my child so that we have the emotional and social backing we need.
  7. I will spread more awareness of autism and seek out more informational support.
  8. I will be a strong advocate for my child, for the autism cause and I will work hard on monitoring my child’s progress at home, in school and in the community.
  9. I will help raise money and/or donate time or money to grow and strengthen autism awareness
  10. I will take things one day at t time.

What are some of the resolutions you have made this year? Let us know!! We’d love to hear what motivates you. Ours are simple. Our new year’s resolution is to make sure we offer the best possible service and therapy to our clients. We resolve to work with our families to make their lives better day by day and to help them through their struggles and answer any questions they may have. We vow to spread awareness.

Happy 2015 everyone! May this year be a successful year for all of us, both personally and professionally!