Autism is a developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates and interacts with others. It represents a broad spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of functioning. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to working with autistic children, but there are some general tips that can be helpful. If you’re a professional working with an autistic child, knowing how to handle meltdowns or create routines and schedules can be a lifesaver. It can be a challenge to work with autistic kids, but with these six tips, you can make the experience easier for everyone involved. So, let’s get started
Creating Routines & Schedules
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often thrive on routines and schedules. Having a set routine helps to provide a sense of order and predictability in their lives, which can be very calming. It can also help to prevent or reduce meltdowns, as the child knows what to expect and when.
When creating a schedule or routine for an autistic child, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. First, make sure that the schedule is visual. This means using pictures or symbols to represent different activities. This will help the child to understand what is happening and when. Second, be as specific as possible. For example, rather than just putting “playtime” on the schedule, including exactly what they will be playing and for how long. This will help the child to transition more easily between activities. Finally, be flexible. Routines and schedules should be designed to meet the needs of the child, not the other way around. If a particular activity is causing meltdowns or isn’t working well, don’t hesitate to make changes.
But, inevitably, there will be times when meltdowns happen. It’s important to remember that meltdowns are not tantrums. They are a result of the child feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. When a meltdown happens, it’s important to stay calm and provide comfort and support to the child. Since no two children with ASD are the same as each other, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for dealing with meltdowns. However, as mentioned by the team behind Autism Parenting Magazine, there are some general techniques that can be tailored to your child’s personality and behavior. For one, they suggest that you stay calm since the child is likely feeling overwhelmed and emotional. If you get upset, it will only make the situation worse. Secondly, try to remove any environmental stimuli that may be contributing to the meltdown. This might include turning off lights or moving to a quieter room. Third, provide physical comfort to the child if possible. This could involve hugs, rubbing their back, or just holding them.
Communication Doesn’t Have to Be Verbal
It’s important to remember that not all children with ASD communicate in the same way. Some children are verbal, while others communicate through alternative methods such as sign language, picture boards, or apps. It’s important to meet the child where they’re at and use the method of communication that they’re most comfortable with. If you’re not sure how the child likes to communicate, ask their parents or guardians. They will be able to fill you in on the child’s preferences.
In addition, it is important to know that the ability for verbal communication isn’t, in any way, linked to intelligence. Just because a child doesn’t speak, doesn’t mean that they’re not smart. In fact, many children with ASD are extremely intelligent. It’s important not to make assumptions about a child’s abilities based on their method of communication.
Listen to the Parents
When working with an autistic child, it’s essential to listen to their parents or guardians. They are the experts on their child and know them better than anyone else. The parents will be able to tell you about the child’s behaviors, triggers, preferences, etc. In addition, they can provide valuable insights into how the child is feeling and what they might need in any given situation.
So, just because you’re an expert in autism, doesn’t mean that you know everything about the child you’re working with. Be sure to take the time to listen to the parents and learn as much as you can about the child. It will make a world of difference in your ability to support them.
Patience is Key
Working with an autistic child can be challenging at times. There will be times when the child doesn’t want to cooperate, has a meltdown, or just isn’t having a good day. It’s important to remember that these behaviors are not personal. They are a result of the child’s ASD and have nothing to do with you as a person. In addition, it’s important to be patient with the child. They are likely doing the best they can in any given situation.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a step back and breathe. It’s okay to take a break if you need it. Just be sure to let the child’s parents or guardians know what’s going on. They can provide support and help you to come up with a plan to manage the situation.
One of the greatest things you can do for a child with ASD is to treat them like any other child. They are just like any other kid and deserve to be treated as such. Don’t pity the child or feel sorry for them. This means that it isn’t ok to talk down to them or treat them like they’re fragile. Instead, try to engage with the child and have fun.
Remember, every child is different. What works for one child might not work for another. Just take things one day at a time and do your best to support the child. They deserve nothing less than your very best! If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to reach out to the child’s parents or guardians. They will be more than happy to chat with you about their child and how you can best support them. We hope this was helpful!