When left untreated, ASD can impact a child’s social skills and their relationships at home and at school. As parents of an autistic child, it’s important to meet with your pediatrician and therapist to develop a treatment plan that will help your child succeed. A thorough evaluation to help determine which treatment plan (medication, change in diet, therapist-delivered interventions, cognitive behavior therapy, massage, etc.) is the best place to start. But, what are some other ways you can help your child thrive with autism?
Here are five tips for parents to consider.
Restrict screen time
When your child spends too much time in front of a TV, on a computer, tablet, or mobile device, it can have a negative impact on her/his social skills as well as on brain development and activity. As a parent, work with your child to set rules for screen time and find other activities s/he can do that will help increase social skills, such as playing outside or participating in a school club/sport.
This is vital and should be a part of your autism treatment plan for your child. When you catch your child doing something good, you’ll need to show him/her how much you appreciate that behavior by praising them. Remember to be specific with your praise, and tell him/her why you are happy with their behavior or actions. Besides praise, you can also create a rewards system where every time you see good behavior or actions, they can get a sticker or can play with a favorite game/toy.
Create a set schedule
Work with your therapist, school, and family members to create a highly-structured schedule for your child to follow. The consistency can help your child focus and develop behavior skills with regular set times for school, therapy, meals, activities, and bedtime. It can also help your child apply what they learn in therapy to different situations within their schedule. When disruptions to the schedule are forthcoming, prepare your child in advance if possible.
In addition, when developing a schedule, set one up and give your child time to adjust and become comfortable with it. They won’t adjust overnight, so be prepared to give it time, which is a great motto to keep in mind when trying other techniques and therapies.
Create personal space for your child at home
Besides her/his bedroom, look for an area within your house that can act as a private space for your child. This can be a marked off area in the playroom, TV room or even at the end of a hallway. The key is to create a space where your child can relax and feel more secure.
Incorporate activities they love
Remember that not every activity your child engages in needs to be school or treatment related. Your child also needs time to do the activities he/she loves! Make time during the week and/or weekend to incorporate activities that your child enjoys doing with you, your family or alone. Moreover, this is a great way to get your child to open up and connect with you.
Although there is no cure for autism, research has shown that starting individual treatment programs as soon as possible can improve outcomes for many children with autism.
If you are looking for a provider for Applied Behavioral Analysis, check out our recommended providers. If you need an evaluation and diagnosis for your child to qualify for insurance-reimbursed ABA services, you may be interested in our low-cost Autism Evaluation.