How you can improve interaction with a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
For most children on the Autism Spectrum, communicating their feelings and thoughts can be a major hurdle. This inability to express what is bothering them may lead to emotional breakdowns as well.
However, with proper guidance and help from therapists, children on the autism spectrum can learn to socialize and interact. A good treatment program is only effective as long as parents are also able to provide continued support at home, while interacting with family and peers.
In this blog, we’ll discuss ways in which parents can help create an environment that is conducive to fostering an improvement in their child’s interactive and social skills.
Be your child’s mentor rather than caretaker:
Though it may be tempting for parents to help their children in everything they do, we suggest that you let your child learn on their own while providing them with opportunities to do so. Provide adequate guidance and support, and allow your child to reach out to you if they are struggling with performing a certain task. For instance, stop tying their shoes for them, or choosing their clothes, etc. unless they specifically ask for help with those tasks. This helps initiate a healthy conversation and educates your child on performing various tasks and asking for help, when required.
Encourage your child to interact with other kids:
When children make friends, they build bonds and understand emotions. Every social interaction, whether good or bad, helps children in understanding and being receptive to the entire gamut of emotions, which further helps them get accustomed to the social world.
Do not rush your child:
Most techniques designed to help improve interaction work efficiently when incorporated into daily activities. For example, while having breakfast or getting ready to go to school, parents may rush their child to finish eating their breakfast on time. During daily routines like these, take a step back and slow down. Give your child the time they require to process what’s happening around them. This also helps improve situational awareness in children. We suggest parents prepare a timetable along with their children, so they are aware of what steps to expect in their daily routine.
Let children figure things out on their own:
As discussed above, always help and support your child, but do not do their work for them. Provide them with all the information they need to perform a certain task and let them perform in their own way and time. This helps children in initiating conversations with those around them. Always provide feedback after a conversation to help your child improve the next time.
Don't let go of opportunities:
Take advantage of any opportunities you can find for your child to practice communication. This plays a major role in helping children learn to initiate conversations. When you find no opportunities, take a stand and create one for your child. For example, when you visit your child’s favorite store, give them the opportunity to make requests and ask for what they want, instead of directly giving them what they like.
Do not complicate things:
When you are teaching your child to communicate, use single and small words that are easy for your child to process. We suggest parents point towards relevant objects when teaching certain words, in order to help children memorize the word easily by association with the object. Speak clearly and enunciate, in order to ensure that your child is able to hear and understand you.
Allow them to learn at a pace they are comfortable with:
Children learn and understand various social cues at their own pace. As a parent, it’s important that you don’t compare your child with their peers by setting timelines on when they have to achieve certain goals. Instead, offer as much support as you can and celebrate accomplishments often.
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.