Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a range of skills, talents and needs – just like everyone else. However, ASD can make life a little bit more difficult. Understanding the unique needs of children with autism will go a long way in aiding their development, as well as ensuring they lead happy, healthy lives. Here’s what you need to know about helping children with autism thrive.
1. Understand what stimulates and upsets them
As autism presents differently in every child, the first step is understanding what triggers your child’s challenging behaviours. This is often due to overstimulation, caused by playing music too loud or watching fast-paced cartoons, or even wearing clothes that they find itchy or irritating. Watch how your child reacts to different stimuli and whether they find different activities stressful, calming, uncomfortable or enjoyable.
The better you understand what your child liked and dislikes, the better you’ll be at troubleshooting problems and de-escalating potentially triggering situations.
2. Provide Structure
Helping children with autism often starts with providing a stable, consistent structure. This includes having a set morning routine, set meal times and set bedtime, as well as ensuring they have consistency with therapy sessions and ways of communicating. Putting a reward system in place that helps your child distinguish between good and bad behaviours will also help reinforce these structures.
3. Find non-verbal ways to connect
One of the best ways of helping children with autism is understanding the way they want to communicate and interact. While children with autism may lack verbal communication skills, they often have their own unique, non-verbal ways of communicating.
Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make, as well as the facial expressions and gestures they use in different situations. While some children may feel comfortable communicating and showing affection through touch, others may respond better to eye contact, body language and vocal tones. Using their preferred means of communication when interacting with them will help them feel understood and accepted.
4. Create a personalised therapy plan
Early intervention can make a huge difference when it comes to helping children with autism. This can include speech therapy, behavioural therapy, as well as social skill building to prepare them for life at school. The Lizard Centre provides NDIS-funded early intervention programs that can help give your child the best possible start to life.
5. Make time for fun
While therapy plays an important role in helping children with autism, so does play. Scheduling unpressured play time with your child when they are most alert and awake can help them come out of their shell. This is a great way to bond with them in a natural scenario and learn what makes them smile and laugh.
For more information about helping children with autism, get in touch with the friendly team at the Lizard Centre today!