Let's face it, it's difficult
to deal with some children with autism spectrum
disorders, so that's why we need to have solutions
ready at our fingertips.
1. USE ROUTINES, NOT LIP SERVICE!
Set up a crystal clear, daily structure before
the day begins and decrease power struggles.. Think
structure, structure, structure. Why get caught
in crisis at the last minute for yourself and all
concerned. People, especially in the autism spectrum
need routine and structure. Be pro-active and structure
minded even if you're not. Learn to cut down on
directing with words as you begin to chose words
with careful thought and consideration and sparingly.
A little goes a long way.
2. CHANGE ENVIRONMENT RATHER THAN THE CHILD!
Look around you. If you actually make physical,
concrete changes in your household, school, or
community setting and change what needs to be
changed such as location of furniture, color,
lighting, clothing, chaos etc. People in the autism
spectrum are especially sensitive to sensory conditions
such as sound, lighting, physical touch and so
on. This way the environment rather than you dictate
the rules and your child can enjoy independence
3. FOLLOW THROUGH WITH FOLLOW UP
Use your routines and rules you set in motion
and then make sure they are doing what they are
supposed to. By doing so, you are not the bad
guy and they will have to deal with the natural
consequences of their actions. With those in the
autism spectrum, they respond well to follow-up
as they thing in concrete terms rather than abstract
ones. This can be your salvation and teaches the
kids what will happen in the real world. Natural
consequences can be difficult for them to comprehend
therefore responses and behavior may get worse
before it gets better but hang in there.
4. GROUND YOURSELF, NOT THE KIDS WITH GROUND
Keep your credibility and your word with your
kids. Though it's hard at times, stick-to-it-ive-ness
is your key to long term success. Kids in the
spectrum disorder can actually enjoy grounding
and time-outs due to their egocentric nature so
be careful. Use masterful logic and reason and
don't let them break you down or it will break
5. NEGOTIAITON ISN'T JUST FOR ADULTS
When creating rules for your kids, do so with
them, not just for them whenever possible. This
way they will buy into the process and will be
more likely to cooperate. The rules are great
for kids with autism as it helps them stay anchored.
They will also surprise you many times with their
comprehension of what is actually going on. Even
if they are non-verbal, this does not mean they
are not understanding or communicating so get
the buy in.
6. BREAK TASKS INTO SMALL CHUNKS
If you overwhelm them it's no wonder they
fight back. By breaking down the tasks into do-able
tasks you are ensuring their feeling of success
and even raising their own self-esteem. The more
they have mastery over their environment the better
they will feel about themselves. This should begin
as small as need be with small decisions, small
responsibilities etc and work up to larger ones.
When deciding on the type of task to complete,
try to use the seemingly insignificant activities
that fill each child's day.
When working with people in this spectrum, life
skills are very important to integrate at an early
age. Social stories and visual cues can be quite
helpful as a reminder. You can place pictures
and/or text on a place they normally see so they
can easily access this. Its good to put words
next to pictures so they can learn to associate
7. GIVE KIDS THE "HEAD OF THE TABLE"
Let them be in charge of their responsibilities
though its tempting to try and avoid taking over
the responsibility. In the short term it may seem
easier but that's only if you want to continue
doing this for them, in the case of parenting,
when they are over 20! They can be rather convincing,
none-the-less, hang in there. You can balance
your decision to give the responsibility back
by maintaining a supportive and caring attitude
rather than being the bad guy!