How to help young adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder become independent
Teaching independence to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder should start at an early age. It is important to think forward and plan accordingly in order to ensure long term success for a child with ASD. This requires understanding your child's interests and creating a framework to set goals pertaining to where your child wants to be in a few years. It’s also vital that parents allow children to work things out on their own while ensuring that they are motivated and properly supported throughout their journey.
Drawing this fine line, however, requires attentiveness. In this blog, we will discuss simple, everyday tips that will have an immense impact on helping your child achieve the desired level of independence and associated positive outcomes.
Find a safe and supportive place for your child:
Find a school that understands your child’s needs. While it’s important to find a school that is supportive and can take specific measures to address your child’s needs, it’s even more important to ensure that there is ample support provided at home. Your child needs to feel safe with every family member that they are living with.
Ensure that your child is equipped with all the necessary services:
We cannot stress enough on the importance of ensuring your child receives early intervention. This helps ensure that your child is receiving required treatment as early as possible, so they can gradually learn how to communicate, study, and develop required social skills. Consider enrolling your child in special needs educational centers, where they create specialized educational programs that focus on helping your child participate in various aspects of community life and set goals that aim to improve the quality of their daily activities.
Help your child try new things:
Adapting to new environments can be rather challenging for a child with ASD. However, the transition to adulthood features several uncertainties for children on the spectrum as well as for those who are not. A young adult with ASD might find it more difficult to adjust to changes. Therefore, it is imperative that you try new things with your child from early on. This helps them be better prepared for the challenges associated with transitioning to adolescence and later, adulthood. Any new activity can be a new experience that has the potential to improve your child’s ability to handle changes that may come their way. We suggest activities such as, helping your child enroll into an internship program or participate in community service. These experiences allow children to learn how to adapt, and increase their self-confidence, which is critical in helping them leading independent lives further down the line.
Many young adults with ASD find it difficult to identify their internal motivation. Hence, as caretakers and parents, it is important that you invest time and effort to help children with ASD identify what motivates them, and further help them pursue their self-directed goals. Work with your child to enable them to identify their interests, and to ensure that these interests are aligned with your child’s personal goals and sources of motivation.
Don't over help/prompt your child:
In this situation, there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing.’ Provide all the support your child needs, but also let them figure things out on their own while you continue to keep an eye on them. In an effort to expedite things, parents may be tempted to do everything for their child, but this behavior can be counterproductive, as it eliminates the opportunity for your child to develop the necessary skills. If you think your child is good at a certain activity, ensure that they get sufficient time and resources to practice. Instead of rushing your child to finish a certain task or just doing it yourself, rearrange their schedule slightly. This can mean allowing them more time to get dressed or to get their schools bags ready, and so on. This teaches children how to finish tasks on their own.
For more information regarding sensory therapy, cognitive skills, behavior therapy, developmental disorders, and early intervention, please contact Stepping Stones Center. We emphasize on acquiring new and appropriate behaviors, while also working on helping the child achieve developmentally age-appropriate milestones through evidence-based practices.