Parenting a kid on the Autism spectrum disorder can be emotionally draining, frustrating and tiring. Here are 15 behaviour strategies for children on the Autism spectrum.
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Children may sometimes show a particular behaviour spontaneously and the parent may feel confused and scared about how to react. However, with an in-depth understanding of the behaviour and its underlying reasons, parents can better understand and respond to their child diagnosed with Autism. Here are 15 easy-to-implement behaviour strategies one can practice with children diagnosed with Autism.
Keep your child updated on what’s going to happen next
When the child knows what’s going to happen next, he/she is better able to relate with the task in hand. Say for instance, your child is trying to finish solving a puzzle. You know that he/she needs to get in bed and sleep in half an hour. So, tell your child, “In 30 minutes, you would finish the puzzle and going to bed.” For some kids, setting up a timer to keep track of the time left can be helpful. You can also set a timer that winds down every minute till the set time. For example, “3 minutes left”, “2 minutes left” and so on.
Set clear expectations consistently and follow-up
You can tell your child that if they independently complete their homework, you’d accompany them to the park. If you continuously follow this behavioural strategy and let your child know what he/she is expected to do, it will establish predictability. Children with Autism thrive on predictable occurring and so it would benefit your child’s behaviour positively.
Acknowledge the child’s act to comply with your words
Acknowledging your child when they comply with your request can help them form a better understanding of actions and reactions. For instance, if your child is speaking too loudly in a movie theater, you could say, “Speak softly in a theatre.” When he/she follows your request, acknowledge and encourage it by saying, “good job speaking softly.”
Give a bunch of choices
Everyone likes to have a few options to choose from. In fact, kids, including those on the Autism spectrum like to experience a feeling of control. Giving them a few options to choose from, without giving too many options that may overwhelm, is a good idea. For example, you can ask them if they’d prefer butter or jam on their bread.
For kids who also face speech and language difficulties, show activity/toys to help them push off to the next task
Say for instance, your child is solving a puzzle and you want them to get some sleep. You can show your kid their pillow so that they know you want him/her to go to bed.
Build a structured schedule to let your child know about the upcoming tasks of the day
It would be best to design a visual schedule for your child, in case, they face challenges in understanding a language or reading. You could design an after-school visual schedule that includes, “eating lunch”, or “homework time”, or any other activity you want to include.
Letting the child bring an object from last activity to a newer one can help make the transition smooth
Transitioning from one activity to another can be overwhelming or intimidating for a child on the Autism spectrum. You can make it a smoother transition by letting him carry their favourite object to another activity. Say, for example, your kid needs to stop playing and go to a speech therapist. You can let him/her carry one of their toys to the therapy centre.
Distract the child and redirect unwanted behaviours
This means that when your child is expressing an unwanted behaviour, you need to redirect it to a better distraction that holds their interest. If your child is running in a shopping mall, redirect them back to you by saying, “Come to mama”, rather than saying “no” or “stop.”
Try to bring out your child from the environment that overstimulated his/her sensory inputs
Generally, kids with ASD feel uncomfortable in crowded places. As a proactive parent, try to become mindful of the place where you take your child. If your child feels overwhelmed, maybe due to crowded supermarket or a fireworks show, get them away to a less loud place where they can de-stress.
Give clear directions that are short & concrete
Children on the Autism spectrum may find it difficult to understand multiple commands. To make it easier for them to understand, try to give as short, clear and concrete directions as possible. For instance, if your loved one is spreading food all on a table, rather than saying, “Why are you doing it?” “behave yourself”, say, “eat your food.”
Use social stories to inculcate social skills in a child
The use of social stories for behavioural management has been a popular practice by specialists. This technique involves the use of stories as a medium of inculcating social skills in children with ASD, in a subtle manner. In such stories, the main character has to tackle numerous social challenges in a socially appropriate manner. This acts an indirect cue for a child to learn socially acceptable behaviour in a fun way.
Let your child know when the particular activity would end
As per research, it has been witnessed that children perform better when they know exactly when that particular task will end. For this, you can set a timer of tell them specific statements like, “Write this alphabet 5 times.”
Giving structured activities or structured hands-on tasks can be great for a child on the Autism spectrum
Several child psychologists agree to have observed kids doing well when they do a visual or hands-on activity. Some examples include sorting items based on color or type of object, solving a puzzle, etc.
Be calm when you are interacting with the kid
It sometimes gets difficult to keep anger under control and so parents end up threatening or yelling at their child. This may work in getting rid of the unwanted behaviour in short-term, however the child may begin to feel sad, embarrassed or anxious. To eliminate such possibilities, try to maintain calm and positively support your child as much as possible.
Reward to encourage good behaviour
As much as it’s important to make behavioral expectations clear to your kid, it’s equally important to let the child know that they did a good job. As a caregiver, reward your child for their good behaviour in the form of extra park-time or you can even thank them for the same.
Keep in mind that initially it may take a while to see changes in your child. But stay patient and consistent with your efforts for a fruitful outcome. It is advisable to consult a child psychologist to tackle all challenges that come along the diagnosis. In fact, Mom’s Belief has some of the best child psychologist in Delhi and around the world.