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7 Skills to Build When Caring for Children with Autism

7 Skills to Build When Caring for Children with Autism

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Whether you’re a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with autism or a caregiver for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refining the skills and characteristics required to support their development is essential, even if you naturally possess them. It is of utmost importance to be well-versed with their unique needs; however, caring for a child with autism can be draining and overwhelming, both physically and mentally.

While it is quite challenging to raise and nurture children on the autism spectrum, it can also take a serious toll on parents’ relationships with each other and those around them. As a result, besides the medical care and treatments that may help your child, building these simple, everyday skill sets can make a significant difference.

So, here are the top 7 skills you should focus on when caring for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 

Empathy  

Childhood may not always be full of joy and comfort, especially for children with autism. Here, it helps a great deal to just stop for a moment and try to look at things from your kid’s perspective. Utilize empathy as one of the most valuable virtues and attempt to understand why your child is behaving a certain way. Ask yourself what kind of response you can provide in order to better understand and assist them. Remember to consider your words, lower your voice, and establish careful, visual efforts toward showing your child that you care and really want to help.

Patience 

With love and patience, nothing is impossible. — Daisaku Ikeda

Building patience takes time. So, remember to start slowly and celebrate even the smallest of achievements with your little one. For example, since it often takes children with ASD longer to process interactions and information, it is imperative that you exercise patience while recognizing their needs, even in the midst of tantrums and meltdowns. And know that its completely okay to take a break, because even the best parents and caregivers need a breather sometimes! Just taking a day off, joining support groups, or even asking understanding relatives and friends for help can prove to be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical well-being. 

Calmness 

Sometimes, you can really be exhausted from being patient and empathetic during uncontrollable meltdowns, and that’s not a bad thing at all! However, the right thing to do here is to physically remove yourself from the situation and take a while to calm down and compose yourself – walk into the other room or outside if you need to when you feel your anger or frustration getting worse. But refrain from punishing your child and know that they are not doing this on purpose. Instead, allow them the liberty and comfort to express themselves with a reassurance of a strong support system.

Enthusiasm 

This skill is especially for all the aspiring special needs teachers and caregivers out there! As per the National Association for the Education of Young Children, one of the most important characteristics of early childhood development educators is passion and enthusiasm for children. And well, this goes way beyond ‘enjoying’ being around and with children. With a strong desire to make a difference in each child’s life, caregivers must also have the drive to encourage learning and growth, in addition to helping children overcome social, academic, and developmental challenges. 

Communication Skills 

building communication skills for autism treatment

Communicating and connecting with your autistic child can be difficult and sometimes absolutely frustrating. But did you know that you don’t need to talk or even physically touch them in order to effectively bond and communicate your feelings? Instead, you can rely upon non-verbal communication – be it your body language, the tone of your voice, or eye contact. Remember, your child does attempt to communicate with you, even if he or she refuses to speak. In this regard, you just need to familiarise yourself with the mode of communication they are most comfortable with and pay attention to the sounds, facial expressions, and gestures they regularly use. 

Attentiveness 

It is natural to be disheartened when you feel ignored or misunderstood, and this scenario is no different for children on the autism spectrum. This is exactly why it is important to be attentive and sensitive to their feelings, especially when you’re unable to pick up on their non-verbal cues on the first try. An outburst or throwing a tantrum is likely their way of expressing their frustration or irritation and grabbing your attention, and in this case, being observant will certainly play a valuable role in providing your child with the best possible assistance. 

Consistency 

Creating and maintaining consistency in a child’s environment is one of the best ways to reinforce learning. For example, you can understand and learn what your kid’s therapist incorporates in their teaching methods and continue to implement the same technique at home. You can also explore the possibility of being consistent in the way you interact and engage with your child, especially when dealing with difficult behaviors, thus narrowing down upon an effective solution that works best. On the other hand, if your child’s behavior is often unpredictable, it may seem more convenient not to expose them to a specific situation. However, when you consistently include them in regular, everyday tasks such as a grocery run or a walk in the park, it may help the child become more familiar with his or her surroundings. 

Taking care of a child with ASD can demand tremendous energy and time. You may experience days or even weeks of feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. While it is a known fact that parenting is seldom easy, raising a child on the autism spectrum with special needs is even more difficult and may test your patience in ways you never imagined. 

Therefore, in order to be the best parent or guardian you can be, it is important that you take care of yourself first! Please remember not to overburden yourself by struggling to do everything independently, because you don’t have to. Numerous special needs facilities and autism care centers, including Early Autism Services, can provide you with a well-deserved helping hand as well as unremitting support and guidance. 

In summarization, the most important skills you need when caring for children with autism include the following:

  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Attentiveness
  • Enthusiasm 
  • Calmness
  • Communication Skills
  • Consistency

If you’d like to know more about the autism care services we provide, feel free to contact us right away, because, at Early Autism Services, we are just as passionate about the potential of your child as you are! 

Importance of Play Based Learning for Children with Autism

Importance of Play Based Learning for Children with Autism

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Play-based learning is essential for children with autism since it helps them nurture skills integral to learning and overall development. Studies also suggest that play-based learning, especially during formative years, can significantly influence the way a child’s brain develops. Moreover, it helps coordinate their physical and mental capabilities as well.

Through play, kids with autism can develop the following skills:

  • Language and Observation
  • Imitation Skills
  • Sharing & Co-Operation
  • Abstract Learning
  • Age Appropriate Skill Development
  • Gross & Fine Motor Skills
  • Problem-Solving Abilities
  • Improved Memory
  • Higher Retention Capacity
  • Creativity and Imagination

However, it is important to note that play is a documented field of difference in autism. For instance, while some children’s pretend play will likely be perceived as stereotypic, monotonous, and repetitive, others may engage in a more solitary type of play, indicating that these patterns differ from one child to another. As per the research article titled ‘Physical Activity and Physical Fitness of School-Aged Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders’ and Teaching Children With Autism Appropriate Play In Unsupervised Environments Using A Self-Management Treatment Package (PMC), children with ASD are less likely to be physically active compared to their peers; however, studies reveal that they are just as capable of being engaged and involved in play-based activities!

A child with autism may also require assistance in terms of understanding and learning how to play, thus presenting parents and children with an incredible opportunity to build a stronger bond and participate in an enriching experience.

How do I engage my autistic child in play activities?

Similar to typically developing children, kids with autism enjoy learning through play. When you actively assist your child in understanding how to play, you subsequently help them acquire and nurture valuable skills, such as sharing, consideration, taking turns, communicating and interacting, expressing feelings, and numerous others.

But, for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), challenges associated with communication and interaction can be amplified and sometimes even seem overwhelming in a play-based setting. So, here are some tips to help your autistic child engage in play activities:

1.) Opportunities for Imitation/Observation 

Kids on the autism spectrum find it difficult to learn from observing their environment. If your child does not play with toys appropriately or engages with only specific toys, it is essential that you practically demonstrate how to play. For instance, you can include different toys similar to the ones they already use; however, do not impose your expectations on the child. Instead, engage with the toys close to where your child is and ensure that you use innovative play methods. Treading slowly and steadily, let the kid approach you and then, gradually introduce the same play with them. For the best results, incorporate this method of play-based learning at least 5-6 times a week. And don’t hesitate to make the playtime fun and silly, because your kid will certainly love that!

2.) Explore structured play 

Kids with autism may experience complications during pretend play owing to generativity issues. For instance, a child may find it difficult to generate or produce novel actions and ideas required during pretend play. In this case, structured play can prove to be highly beneficial, as it helps children acquire social skills and understand the concepts of sharing and turn-taking in a deeper manner. Characterized as a type of playing where adults (or parents) direct the child’s play, structured play entails choosing interesting and interactive activities with clear, manageable objectives and goals. These factors also create a low-stress environment where children can experiment with the skills required to play effectively with other kids.

3.) Remember to keep trying and experimenting

As you continue exploring different play methods, often, the best-planned activities may not work out for your kid. In this case, it can be extremely overwhelming and disheartening to see your child struggle with an activity you hoped would be enjoyable and successful. But don’t give up just yet! Here, it is important that parents understand how certain aspects of an activity can be altered or modified in a way that best suits the child’s learning needs. Aligning with this, here are four different play methods to incorporate into your child’s routine:

  • Toy Play – Toy play is defined as learning how to use and play with toys in the manner they were designed. These include bringing a toy cell phone to the ear and speaking, pushing a toy train, throwing or kicking a ball, and playing with fidget spinners. Based on the kind of play items your child likes, toy play can significantly help develop creativity, thinking, and problem-solving skills.
  • Constructive Play – Building and making things constitutes constructive play. It involves working towards an objective, for instance, stacking blocks to build a tower, finishing a jigsaw puzzle, and painting or drawing a picture. In addition to nurturing their creative side, constructive play also helps in the development of motor skills.

Play based learning for children with autism in Hyderabad

  • Cause-and-Effect Play – Cause-and-effect play enables a child to learn that their actions can have a consequence or cause something to happen, thus providing them with a sense of control. To encourage your child with this type of play, you can show them how pressing a key produces sounds on a piano or how pressing a button makes an object pop up, and then take turns to continue playing.
  • Physical Play – Physical play provides your kid with full-body exercise while helping them to develop gross motor skills. Moreover, engaging in physical play can serve as a wonderful opportunity for your little one to explore his or her surroundings while communicating and interacting with those around them.

reliable center based ABA therapy provider for play based learning

Get in touch with a reliable center-based ABA therapy provider 

Center-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, such as those offered by Early Autism Services, presents a fun and interactive environment for children to explore, learn, and grow. These facilities also have experienced and trained behavior analysts to help support your child’s growth and development. So, make sure you get in touch with the right ABA therapy center near you and provide your child with the myriad benefits associated with play therapy for autism.

Finding The Right Play-Based Center For Your Child

Play-based learning is crucial for an autistic child’s development of emotional and social skills, including the capability to nurture positive relationships with peers. As children interact and play together, they also learn to get along with one another, communicate effectively, cooperate, and effectively resolve conflicts. And with data-driven and goal-oriented programs, EAS utilizes a play-based learning model as well as table time learning, interactive peer play, and free play.

Our experienced team of clinicians will help build a personalized program for your child and work toward achieving those targeted goals, including social skills, play skills, behavior planning, self-help, pre-academic skills, and numerous others. So, if you are ready to schedule a free consultation, or wish to speak with our experienced team, get in touch with us right here.