Caring for a child or someone with autism can become a real challenge for parents.
With early diagnosis and proper intervention, children on the spectrum can learn well and be on their best behavior, especially with the help of proven behavior strategies.
Behavior strategies and autism
So now you may be wondering…
What are behavior strategies?
To answer that, behavior strategies are “routine” things that help your child acclimatize to his or her environment. These strategies help you teach your child how to behave in certain situations by first understanding their behavior and doing something (strategy) to make them improve that behavior as best they can in social situations.
Remember that as a spectrum disorder, autism symptoms may be mild or severe in some cases. Nonetheless, the following behavior strategies still work no matter where they are in the spectrum.
If you’re ready, here are the things you can do to help your child.
Set realistic expectations
Autistic or not, all children benefit from expectations set upon them. When you set expectations like certain rules or procedures, you are able to create better structure and consistency for your child, especially when they have autism.
Keep in mind that when you set expectations, it means knowing what your child needs to be able to do their task. As a spectrum disorder, autism symptoms may vary. This also means different needs for every child.
For example, you can train your child to sit in front of the dinner table and expect to eat and wait while they are served their food. Or if they are going to bed, they need to brush their teeth first.
However, you need to make sure that you implement these “expectations” consistently and that they follow through so that you will see an improvement in their behavior. Also, setting expectations helps your child know what to expect or what will happen next so they’re not confused as to what they need to do.
Teach them time management
Children or people with autism often lack an understanding of the concept of time.
In other words, they are usually unaware of the time it takes to finish or perform a certain activity unless you help them.
You can help them manage their behavior with time by setting up an alarm or maybe a timer. You can also remind them gently and lovingly when they have to do and finish a specific task.
Teaching time management to kids with autism is very important because it is the prerequisite to help them transit to the next activity they need to do or the task at hand.
Once your kid knows your expectations and is able to do their tasks for a specific period of time, the next thing you need to do is to help them practice transitions.
For children with autism, a “sudden” change in schedule can cause a meltdown that is often mistaken for a tantrum.
To help avoid this, you can help them practice transitions by bringing a “transitional object” to switch from doing one activity to the next to make them feel more comfortable.
Some examples of transitional objects can be their favorite toy, a stress ball, a heavy blanket, a noise-canceling headset, a pair of sunglasses, etc.
Teach them emotion regulation and self-monitoring.
Perhaps one of the hardest things you’d do when doing behavior strategies is teaching your child how to regulate and monitor what they feel at the moment. People and children with autism oftentimes have a problem with communicating how they really feel in a certain way.
As a parent or guardian, you need to be calm yourself to be able to teach your child how to be calm in stressful situations. Play with them and show them pictures of how people usually look when happy, excited, sad, afraid, or angry, and go over what they need to do in those situations.
When it comes to self-monitoring and regulating their emotions, you have a very important job as a parent to teach them how to act appropriately and how they can deal with what they’re feeling.
Teach your child calming strategies.
Teaching your child calming strategies is somehow connected to helping them regulate their emotions and monitor themselves.
Here are some ideas to help your child relax or calm down when they feel stressed out from a certain situation.
- Count from one to 10.
- Take deep breaths or practice deep breathing.
- Sing songs.
- Let your child express what they’re feeling verbally.
- If you can, create a calm corner for your child. With this strategy, you can create a corner where they have something that will calm them like sensory toys, a bean bag or a sensory swim, or maybe just a corner with dim lighting as long as it helps them calm down.
Use stories and visuals.
Some children, even if they don’t have autism, work better with improving their behavior when provided stories that they can relate to. You can also use visuals like sorting objects by color or shape. You can also get them to play a game that will help them learn a certain task or behavior that is expected of them.
Reinforce good or positive behaviors.
The moment you set expectations for your child, it is now the time to reinforce the appropriate behavior that they should exercise in a social setting. In other words, you “reward” them for doing good or behaving right in a social setting.
There is no magic pill to help your child with autism. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and love on your part to take care of them and show them your support as a parent or guardian.
When using behavior strategies, always remember that consistency is the key and that considering your child’s sensory needs must be a priority.
If you want your child to feel better not only with improved behavior but physically and mentally, try the Special Strong experience today for FREE.