Managing an autistic child can be difficult at times, which is why having autism strategies in place can make the difference between coping and feeling overwhelmed. The strategies don't have to be difficult or complex, it's really simply a matter of ensuring that your child feels secure, comfortable, and calm, so that they can grow and develop in a positive environment.
It's important to remember that a number of the behaviors autistics display are those that they have developed in order to provide security and certainty to the world that surrounds them. Some of the behaviors that an autistic child naturally develops are designed to shut out situations they find too difficult to cope with. Thus applying the right approach can help a parent reach their autistic child instead of being shut out.
The following is a list of 15 different autism strategy suggestions parents can utilize to help them manage their children with autism spectrum disorders:
1. Provide a predictable environment and daily routine
2. Prepare your child in advance for any changes that need to occur to the routine, don't spring surprises on them. Keep in mind changes should only be made when absolutely necessary.
3. Activities should have structure.
4. Distractions should be kept to a minimum, especially when communicating, so don't try competing with the TV or lots of background noise when giving instructions.
5. Ensure you have your child's full attention when trying to communicate with them.
6. When giving instructions they should be simple and direct so there is no room for misunderstandings.
7. When instructions are given, you need to allow enough time for your child to process them. Autism strategies require patience - don't rush your child.
8. Try using visual aids like flash cards or picture books when communicating as these can help get your message across and cement understanding.
9. Try to be as consistent as possible with everything you do involving your autistic child. This includes punishments.
10. If an autistic individual is not coping, he/she requires a "safe" place where they can retreat in order to calm down and de-stress.
11. If your child is not coping with a situation, consider if underlying causes (I.E. confusion, stress, fear, pain or over-stimulation) could be a factor and try to remove that cause.
12. When the stress levels of an autistic have reduced, encourage them to return to group activities or situations.
13. Speak to the school to see if a buddy system could be introduced to help provide academic and social support. This involves pairing autistic kids with non-autistic peers.
14. Before attempting to alter or discourage a behavior that you think is inappropriate, carefully consider if this is necessary, as the behavior you are trying to diminish may be replaced by something worse.
15. Don't take autism behaviors personally, find ways to de-stress yourself and remember that laughter is often the best medicine when you're at your wits end.
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In addition, parents need to keep in mind that education is one of the best autism strategies they can apply in their efforts to manage their child's autism. The more information one knows about autism, the easier it will be to cope, understand the needs of autistics, and help provide them with the best environment to grow up in.
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