Educate Yourself About The Learner
Educating yourself is a practical step for teaching any individual. You need to learn as much about the student as you can to cater and facilitate their needs. If the child has an IEP or 504 plan in place, make sure to study up on these. Knowing the accommodations ahead of time will help with a smooth transition.
If possible, touch base with the childs previous teachers. Chances are, they will have some great insight to help you learn more about your student.
Common Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder:
- Difficulty socializing with others, responding to social cues, and understanding feelings
- Difficulty communicating, including speaking and understanding
- Unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
- Avoiding or resisting physical contact
- Discomfort when regular routines are disrupted
- Repetitive physical behaviors
“It’s important for parents to help their child understand there are children who are different than they are. Parents can teach their child some simple tools and tips for communicating with children with autism,” says McQuivey.
As Parents We Arent Looking For An Autism Cure
Parents of neurotypical children are often surprised to hear that parents of children on the Autism Spectrum arent really looking for a cure. Autism is part of their childs life and identity, and they wouldnt be themselves if they werent autistic. These parents might research to find management tips and tricks , but they understand that finding a magical cure to get rid of autism altogether is, for lack of a better word, just silly.
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Expand Distance People And Places
First, I suggest confirming that your grandson is ready for these next steps by approaching him closely and calling his name without tapping him or guiding his face. Wait a few seconds, still standing close, to see if he turns to look toward you. If he doesnt, keep up with the physical cues as before.
If he is responding fairly consistently without the need for the physical cue, I suggest the following:
Tip Three: Nonverbal Communication Is A Key Start
Communication begins for babies with gestures and eye contact. Do the same for your nonverbal child at whatever age he or she is starting.
When you model such communication, your child will be encouraged to do the same and respond in kind. It is even beneficial to exaggerate gestures and vocalization in a variety of tones. The more you “act” out your words, the easier it is for your child to process their meaning. For example, nodding your head when you say, “yes,” or pointing a finger to an object while excitingly saying, “look,” will give context and exemplify the meaning of words.
Remember to reciprocate in the same way. When your child points or gestures to something, respond by reaching for what is pointed to while saying the word for it. That will empower your child by feeling successful at getting his or her message across.
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Therapies And Supports To Improve Communication And Social Skills
Improved communication and social understanding can lead to lower anxiety and less challenging behaviour in autistic children and teenagers. There are many therapies and supports that might increase your childs skills in these areas, and help you manage your childs behaviour.
A good first step is talking with your childs GP, paediatrician or psychologist, or another health professional who works with your child. They can help you find appropriate therapies and supports for your child. Psychologists, speech pathologists and experienced Applied Behaviour Analysis practitioners can help you with behaviour management if the behaviour continues to be a problem or you need support to deal with it.
Tell The Child Specifically What You Expect And Allow Him To Earn Privileges For Complying With Your Expectations
For instance, if your child often has a tantrum in a store when he cant go to the toy aisle, tell him exactly what you expect of him before you go to the store and reward him with a privilege for following that expectation. For instance, you can say something like We are going to Target. We are going to the school supply aisle to buy paper and pens, and then we will pay and go home. Once in the store you can give reminders .
Let the child know that he can earn a privilege for following the rules. Privilege ideas include getting a sticker of a favorite character, playing a favorite game once at home, watching a favorite show, going on the computer, staying up ten minutes past bed time, etc. Try to think of a privilege that your child might like or ask him what he would like to work towards.
When the child earns the privilege, praise him with specific language. In the example above you could say, You followed the rules at the Target. We got the paper and pens, paid, and came home. Nice work! Now you can enjoy some computer time. Make sure the privilege is something the child wants. You can let the child choose what he would like to work for ahead of time. Children also benefit from nonverbal praise such as high fives, smiles, thumbs up, etc.
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Study Concludes Nonverbal May Not Be Permanent
Some parents of children with ASD have been told that if their child isn’t speaking by age 4 or 5, he or she isn’t likely to ever speak.
But in 2013, researchers countered this view with a study of 535 children with autism published in the journalPediatrics that concluded even those with severe language delaynot speaking at all or using only single words or phrases without verbsat age 4 could develop language skills during grade school or even adolescence. The results of the study determined that 70 percent of those children in the study attained communication of short phrases and 47 percent attained fluent speech at or after age 4.
Working with your child’s ABA Therapistwho can help you select and use the best communication strategiesyou can contribute daily to an effort that encourages your child’s language development.
What Should I Do If My Child With Autism Hits Me
If youre here, you likely need answers regarding your childs aggressive behavior. Before we dive into our tips for how to stop an autistic child from hitting, you must understand why this occurs in the first place.
Unable to express their thoughts or feelings in words, children with autism may lash out and hit, scratch, or bite their parents or siblings. Hitting can range from an open-handed slap to a closed-fisted punch, and some outbursts may even injure themselves or others.
Many things can trigger aggressive behaviors like hitting, scratching, and biting, but these are some of the most common in children with autism:
- Feeling very anxious or stressed
- Trying to communicate
- Sensory overload or sensitivity
- Not understanding whats going on around them.
Once we understand why children with autism behave this way, we can work toward prevention and treatment. First, we need to discuss appropriate ways of dealing with aggressive and violent behaviors in children with autism.
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What To Do During A Very Loud Very Public Meltdown
When our child has a meltdown, parents often want to stop the tears because it hurts our hearts that our kids are struggling. Or were running low on patience and just want peace and quiet.
Many times, were coping with the fifth or sixth meltdown that morning over seemingly simple things like the tag in their shirt being too itchy, their sister talking too loudly, or a change in plans.
Children with autism arent crying, wailing, or flailing to get at us somehow.
Theyre crying because its what their bodies need to do in that moment to release tension and emotion from feeling overwhelmed with emotions or sensory stimulations.
Their brains are wired differently and so its how they interact with the world. Thats something we have to come to terms with as parents so we can support them in the best way.
So how can we effectively support our children through these often loud and thrashing meltdowns?
Whats Triggering Your Childs Outbursts
Autism is not a hardwired impairment programmed into a childs genes and destined to remain fixed forever. Paying attention differently to and recording the environment around and prior to incidents can lead to an understanding of triggers for occurrences. Sensory breaks can help your child regroup and refocus.
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Find The Why For Autism And Hitting
Some kids have aggressive outbursts with people who put demands on them or try to tell them they cant have something they really want. Other kids have aggressive outbursts when theyre not engaged or when theyre bored or when theyre in pain. Another important thing to look at is when the hitting does not occur. So, if you said your son wont hit if he was given free access to his iPad all day long or if hes in a swimming pool, then that will give you important information as you make a plan to understand how to stop autism and hitting or at least reduce the behavior.
We Know Best When It Comes To Our Autistic Children
All parents know their own children best, but this statement is especially true of parents of children on the Autism Spectrum. Most parents of autistic children have spent countless hours researching and consulting with doctors. They know their childrens ticks and the best ways to avoid meltdowns. Autism Speaks advises other parents keep the unsolicited parenting advice to themselves, saying, Do ask the family whether theres something you can do to help, but he prepared for a no.
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Respond In A Structured Setting
Now that your child can respond to his name with no distractions around, we want to increase the amount of distractions slightly and see how he does.
The next time you are ready to work on this skill, sit down with your child in a location that has more distractions than the last one. Go into his room where there are more toys or in the living room where there is a TV. Do the same activity from the last step where you say his name and reward him if he looks at you. If he doesnt look at you, say his name again louder and make some sort of commotion that will catch his attention. Then, reward him when he does look at you. This may be harder for him now that there are more distractions. Make sure that you give him a moment to play between each time you try this. You want to make sure that he is focused on something else when you call his name so that he is actually practicing bringing himself out of what hes doing instead of simply continuing to look at you once his focus is already on you.
Keep doing this until your child will look at you when you say his name about 80% of the time. By the time youre ready to move on, you shouldnt need to wave and cause a commotion to catch your childs attention. He should be able to respond to just his name.
Signs My Autistic Child Will Talk
You may ask yourself will my nonverbal autistic child ever speak?. The answer to that question is not easy to give.
Research shows that nonverbal children of age 4 who were nonverbal until that point could produce single words and phrases without verbs.
The important thing here is to provide the right support and help to your child, suitable to their needs. If your child is babbling, or trying to convey something through their behavior, you should lean into it and practice speech exercises.
Many parents and caregivers report that they have had success with such exercises at home, along with the help of professional intervention like speech therapy.
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Make An Autism And Hitting Plan
After fully assessing the hitting, make a plan around how to prevent hitting. Once hitting starts, it can become dangerous for the child and for others. Making a plan is really going to be helpful if, while you were assessing, you checked when the behavior happened, as well as when the behavior never happened. Most people are way too reactive to problem behaviors and we need to turn that around and look for ways to prevent problem behaviors. You might want to increase the activities for your child or client that dont cause a hitting reaction.
Now, if they like swimming in the pool, you wouldnt be able to use that plan all year long. The child or client also might not hit when using an iPad, and you certainly dont want to let a child play with screens all day long. As you increase some of the preferred activities, also increase reinforcement for not hitting during those times. Make a plan to increase demands and slowly fade out some of those reinforcing activities. That way, when it is winter and you cant go to the pool, you can still work with the child on not hitting.
No I Dont Just Need To Discipline My Child More
Meltdowns are not tantrums. They are not the result of a lack of discipline on the part of the parent. Children on the Autism Spectrum have sensory issues. One child may be a sensory avoider, while another is a sensory seeker. And kids with sensory issues do not respond well to physical punishment. Spanking, time out, and yelling are not usually effective tools of discipline for a child with autism. Rather, parents of children on the Autism Spectrum rely on routine and repeated exposure to teach their autistic children rules and boundaries.
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We Are Incredibly Lonely
For all of the reasons already listed, its easy to see why being the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum is a lonely experience. Parents are with their children all the time. Many will be with them for the rest of their life. That makes joining a community of friends incredibly difficult. Divorce rates amongst parents of children on the Autism Spectrum is especially high. If youre a friend of a parent of an autistic child, ask that parent if theyre okay. Ask if they need something, or if you can help with anything. Showing them theyre not as alone as they may feel will go a long way in brightening their day.
How To Teach An Autistic Child To Talk
Although there is no cure for autism, there are therapies and interventions that help the individual to be able to communicate.
It is important to remember that each child is unique. One effort that works with one child may not be helpful for another. In addition, although a child with autism can learn to communicate, this may not alway be through spoken language.
Nonverbal autistic individuals can have and live fulfilling and comfortable lives with the help of therapies and assistance.
Here are some of the treatment options for nonverbal autistic individuals:
Medicine: There is no medicine that will specifically cure autism. However, certain medication could help alleviate related symptoms and conditions. The child could have anxiety or depression, and medication could help with these.
Counselling: Counseling parents and caregivers as well as the siblings of the individual with autism could really benefit from therapy. Through counseling, they can learn how to approach the situation to achieve positive outcomes and to cope with the challenges of nonverbal autism.
Education: Children with autism respond really well to structured sessions. These sessions could help them develop skills and behaviors that will be beneficial in communication. They can gain social and language skills while also getting education and working on their development.
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Help During A Meltdown
We tend to expect a lot from children with autism. They thrive in environments that are calm, familiar, and supportive. But we often ask them to succeed in grocery stores, airports, and classrooms.
When children with autism are overwhelmed, they can experience meltdowns. Meltdowns can involve:
- Withdrawal. The child retreats to an inner world and stops talking altogether. The child may perform repetitive actions like rocking or hand flapping to self-soothe.
- Tantrums. The child cries, screams, stomps their feet, or curls into a ball.
Parents become adept at dealing with these episodes, but always ask if you can help. You could ask a restaurant to turn down the music, for example, while a worried mother attempts to calm her child.
You can also intervene directly. Experts suggest using a gentle voice and simple commands. Tell the child, Get up, and stand next to me. If the child cant respond, stay nearby and let the meltdown blow through. When the child seems calmer, try the commands.