Raising kids is challenging, and raising autistic children is even more challenging – but not impossible. As a parent of an autistic child, you will want to start with understanding where your child is on the spectrum.
Subsequently, you will want to proceed to become an expert on your child by understanding their triggers. You will want to give your autistic child a safe space at home and then integrate the following strategies to encourage positive behavior:
Set Clear Expectations
To elicit good behavior from your autistic child, you will want to set clear expectations and ensure to follow through with your end of the bargain. Suppose you are about to have a conversation over the phone then you will want to tell your autistic child clearly that you want them to remain silent or play quietly for ten minutes, and you will be playing with them as a reward after the phone call.
Suppose your autistic child follows through and acts according to your set expectations, then you will want to ensure that you are keeping your end of the promise. We cannot stress enough the importance of following through, as this will elicit positive behavior from your autistic child, which will eventually help them to act according to your set expectations.
You will want to help your autistic child understand what is expected of them. Research has proven that autistic children love routine, and by setting clear expectations, you can help them better understand what they need to do and what will be coming ahead.
This way, you can curb their triggers and improve their behavior. Children who are on the spectrum prefer predictability, which is why you will want to make their lives as predictable as possible. Ideally, you will want to set a routine for them every morning and night.
You could use visual timers and visual supporting materials to help them understand which activity is to follow which one. For instance, you will want to use visual reminders to help the guide brush their teeth, get into their pajamas, and read a story before bedtime.
The thing about autism is that the more difficult behavior in autistic children and even individuals gets out when they cannot detect predictability. Of course, you will be learning many things while you are raising an autistic child, which is why you wouldn’t want to take it to heart if things don’t go according to plan and your child gets triggered.
You can immensely benefit from some autism parenting strategies and getting in touch with parents of other autistic children who are experiencing the same parenting challenges as you. You will want to know that you are not alone – at least one out of fifty-four children has autism in the USA, which is why you will find many parents out there who are going through the same overwhelming challenges as you are.
Acknowledge Good Behavior
You will want to celebrate the uniqueness of your autistic child instead of feeling overwhelmed with stress and worry. This aspect includes acknowledging and praising your child’s compliance with good behavior.
Suppose your child has complied with your request of being silent while you are on the call, or they have behaved well by whispering in the cinema; you will want to make sure to praise your child and thank them for displaying such good behavior.
You will want to make things crystal clear about what you expect from your autistic child, and once they comply, you will want to allow him to enjoy all the potential privileges that come with fulfilling your expectations.
Suppose your child has just thrown a tantrum in the supermarket because you haven’t gotten them the thing that they were crying for. You will want to be crystal clear by telling your autistic child what you expect from them when you are going to the store. If they don’t throw a tantrum, you will want to make sure that their good behavior is rewarded by giving them a privilege that would make them happy.
Once in the store, you can keep giving them reminders about following the rules and the expectations so they can earn a privilege later. You will want to be absolutely clear in telling your autistic child that they will earn privileges, which can be anything from getting a nice sticker to playing their favorite game once you are home with them.
You will always want to think of a privilege that your child will like, and that will make them look forward to earning that privilege.
More importantly, once your autistic child has rightfully earned their privilege, you will want to ensure that you praise them in the specific language that they fully understand. A simple way to praise your child for their good behavior is by allowing them to choose what they would like to do as their reward.
Usually, children also benefit from non-verbal cues, such as smiles, hugs, and thumbs-ups.
Give Your Autistic Child Choices
All children – autistic or not – prefer to have a sense of control over their world. This aspect indicates that despite the fact that your child is autistic and has special needs, they are still individuals who want a sense of control over their world.
Many children exhibit behavior when they are given choices. So, you will want to give your autistic child a few choices, as more than three might be overwhelming. For instance, you could ask your autistic child what they would like to do after completing their written assignments.
You could give them the choice of watching their favorite show or reading a book. You could also give them food choices by asking them what they would like to eat – a cheese sandwich or a jelly-peanut butter sandwich.
Of course, you will want to make effective use of visual aids to help your autistic child decide if they have language delimitations by simply showing them pictures of the different choices that they can make.
By giving your autistic children a few choices, you can prevent triggers and encourage positive behaviors.