If you are the parent of a child who has autism, you have probably encountered both remarkable strengths and persistent challenges in your child’s journey. They are adept at certain things, but in other areas they struggle more than they do elsewhere.
It is possible that your child will eventually be able to live on their own as an adult and find employment in the field of their choice. They may be able to accomplish these objectives with the assistance of specific parenting strategies.
Parenting an autistic child presents — a unique set of challenges.
Your autistic child might be the most knowledgeable member of the family when it comes to computers. They might be the person you turn to when you can’t put a date on when your neighbor stopped by to see you or when the hailstorm began in the morning. When it comes to the subject matter that captures their attention, it may appear as though they have more information in their heads than is available on the internet as a whole.
They may also object to unanticipated changes to the routine or to the implementation of rules with which they disagree. Their grades in school might be all over the place depending on which subjects they enjoy studying and which ones they despise. It’s possible that you’ll spend a good number of hours trying to divert their attention away from a problem that’s bothering them.
Even if your autistic child is exceptionally bright and talented, there are probably some areas in which they require assistance. That being said, here are 7 tips to nurture your autistic child.
Autism is a spectrum, which means that different people will experience its symptoms in different ways. Every child is unique, with their own set of skills and potential areas for growth. There are many different approaches to parenting that you can try depending on the requirements of your child’s support system.
1. Create a connection
A two-way interaction, such as communication or a shift in behavior in response to the presence of another person, is required for familiarity and trust to develop between individuals.
The establishment of a rapport with the student or client is the initial step in any kind of professional work with children.
Finding common ground with your child can be accomplished by participating in some of the following activities, among others:
- Listening actively: giving your child your undivided attention and making an effort to understand as much as you can about what they are trying to say so that you can respond appropriately. Active listening not only to words but also to a person’s actions can provide you with valuable insight.
- child-led activities: Participating in activities that your child chooses is a powerful strategy for building rapport and sends the message that your child’s interests matter.
Building rapport with your child increases the likelihood that they will be willing to communicate with you, which makes providing support for them simpler.
2. Enhance social awareness
The ability to understand and empathize with the experiences and thoughts of other people is referred to as “theory of mind” (ToM). Autism is associated with a high prevalence of differences in ToM.
Even if your child has differences in their theory of mind, this does not mean that they cannot learn what the thoughts and feelings of other people are. However, if they do not passively acquire this insight at the same rate as allistic (non-autistic) children, they may require explanations regarding the behavior of other people.
Spending time discussing one’s experiences in social situations can help improve one’s TOM skills. You can create teachable moments for your child by asking them how they felt or what they thought about interactions with their peers. This gives you the opportunity to explain behaviors that your child may have misunderstood.
3. Learn the way they communicate
It is somewhat ironic that autistic children who have developed vocabularies far beyond their peers would benefit from assistance with communication. Having a coach, on the other hand, could be beneficial to your child in a few different areas, including the following:
- pragmatic language. This is an example of social communication, which involves taking turns speaking and listening in an appropriate manner while the other person is speaking.
- expressive language. Expressive language includes all forms of outgoing communication, including both spoken and written language. A significant portion of – expressive language consists of nonverbal communications such as gestures.
- Receptive language: The concept of receptive language encompasses all forms of incoming communication, such as reading and listening. You can determine whether or not your child has understood what you have said to them by having them repeat what you have said to them.
Because effective communication has an effect on how your child engages with the allistic world, developing it is a skill that is well worth the time spent doing so.
4. Develop the ability to adapt
It’s possible that you’ve found out the hard way that if you prompt your child before switching activities, the change goes more smoothly. People who are autistic are more likely to experience anxiety whenever there is a change in their routine that they did not anticipate.
Because of the more controlled nature of the environment at home, managing transitions is typically not too difficult. You could give your child a warning that will sound in five or ten minutes, and then check in with them several times during that period of time. The outside world, on the other hand, is not nearly as accommodating.
The transition prompts could be gradually faded out as one solution. Find out how well your child can manage the situation by giving them a shorter notice with fewer check-ins.
Creating a positive association with an unexpected change is yet another solution that can be utilized. Offer something in exchange for a transition that is made without being prompted, such as extra time on the iPad in exchange for turning off the television now.
5. Teach them how to stay composed
Outbursts of disruptive behavior aren’t the only thing that can be caused by emotional dysregulation. Research, including a study that was published in 2020, links it to anxiety in people with autism.
It is essential to keep in mind that outbursts of emotion are not a method of manipulating others in any way. Instead, it seems that your child is experiencing overwhelming feelings and has temporarily lost the ability to control their emotions.
You will be able to intervene before your child becomes overly upset if you observe and recognize the triggers or warning signs in your child’s behavior. Redirecting attention to a calming activity when you recognize the warning signs of an impending outburst can be helpful.
Choices, such as “You look like you need a break. “, can also help your child feel like they have more control over their environment. Do you feel like going for a stroll, or would you rather eat something?”
According to a study published in the year 2017, wearable technologies such as smartwatches may also be useful as tools for effective emotional regulation. The watches keep track of the wearer’s internal cues such as heart rate and then respond with a calming intervention such as music or images that are meant to be relaxing.
6. Enhance autism awareness
Having a conversation with your child about their diagnosis is the first step in raising autism awareness among your family.
They may have already had the perception that they are different from their peers who were developing typically, so it is likely not surprising to learn that they are autistic. It’s possible that they were diagnosed with autism later in childhood or early in adolescence, which means that they were aware of autism even before they received their own diagnosis.
7. Create a support system with other parents with autistic children
Advice from people who have been in your position before is oftentimes the most helpful. Establishing connections with other parents in the autistic community can put you in touch with sources of support and understanding that can make your role less difficult.
You can try searching online for parent support groups in your area, or you can ask the pediatrician who treats your child if they have any contact information for local parent support groups.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental difference that involves a person’s strengths as well as the areas in which they need to develop.
A few straightforward strategies, such as cultivating stronger relationships with others and enhancing social and communication skills, can assist parents in assisting their autistic children to flourish and realize their full potential.
It can be beneficial to meet other parents who also have children with autism in order to learn from them and exchange ideas. Building a network with other people who have had similar experiences can be very beneficial.