When parents send their children off to college, they may feel as if they are…
A parent in the know will help their child grow
If you are a parent and have recently learned that your child has autism, you will likely be worried about the next steps. No parent is ever prepared to hear that their child is anything but happy and healthy, and a diagnosis can cause a lot of anxiety. You might be scared about how to help your child best and how to contribute positively to their development.
Many therapies and treatments can help your child develop new skills and overcome any challenges they might experience. You can find the best option for you and your family from at-home behavioral therapy, school programs, and free government services.
From free government services to in-home behavioral therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your child's particular needs and help them learn, grow, and thrive. So, next time you’re typing into your computer ‘autism center near me,’ you might not need to as you can use some of these methods at home.
How you can help
1. ABA therapy
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is incredibly useful in helping autistic children gain valuable new skills. It focuses primarily on techniques and learning principles that can help decrease or increase certain behaviors. It is a scientifically backed approach that looks into understanding the learning, behavior, and environment that it happens in. Behavior can be defined differently, whether eating, talking, how you get dressed in the morning, or everything in between. This therapy helps parents to understand their child’s behavior. It works on equipping the parents with new techniques to help teach a further alternative or provide a more functional way of completing the current behavior. Once these methods are established, they can be implemented at home.
2. Be consistent with your child
Often, children with autism have difficulty applying new things they have learned outside of where they have learned them. For example: remembering the behaviors acquired at a therapist’s office in the home. Establishing a consistent environment for your child will be the most effective way to reinforce learning. In your actions as a parent, try to be consistent when interacting with your child and how you deal with challenging behaviors.
3. Stick to schedules
Children with autism tend to perform better when they have a well-structured routine to follow. This links closely with the consistency discussed previously, as together with the proper schedule, you’ll be setting your child up for the best possibilities. Make sure to have regular times for meals, school, showering, and bedtime. If possible, keep any disruptions to this routine to a minimum. If there is something you know that might mean a change in schedule on a particular day, tell your child in advance and prepare.
4. Celebrate and reward good behavior
As children, they all like to be praised for good behavior. With children with autism, positive reinforcement can go a long way. Where possible, celebrate and reward when they do something well. Whether that is learning a new skill or acting appropriately, make sure to be specific in your praise. For example: “I am so proud of you for learning to tie your shoes alone; well done!” It does not always have to be verbal praise; rewards can be done by allowing them something – for example, time to play with a toy when they’ve done something well. You’ll soon recognize what your child best responds to, so it is best to continue this system.
5. Make home a safe zone
Home is where the heart is, and it is the one place where your child should always feel safe and relaxed. Having designated areas for them to play in, but also being clear of areas that are ‘off limits.’ In some cases, if your child is prone to certain behaviors like tantrums, you might need to safety-proof the house.
6. Take care of yourself
As parents, your children are always your primary focus. Spending a lot of time and energy on your children is also bound to affect your physical and mental health. Some parents might feel guilty for prioritizing their self-care needs at points, but to give the best possible care for your child, you need to. It might not be sprawled on a beach for a week without a distraction, but there are many things you can do to protect your bubble too. Whether that is taking a walk with a family member who has offered to help, taking the time to cook a nice meal, or picking up the phone to talk to a friend – they are all things that will ultimately protect both you and your child.