As parents or caregivers, it is important that we find ways to encourage our children to grow in confidence. We have to provide them with the support they require to blossom into adults who aren’t afraid of a challenge and believe in themselves. One way in which we can do this is by encouraging them to reach outside of their comfort zone and try something new. However, for children with autism, leaving their comfort zone can be very difficult.
Children with autism often enjoy following a repetitive routine. When they know what to expect next, they feel more prepared and grounded in the world around them. As a result of this, it can be hard to encourage them to try something new, whether that means partaking in a new hobby or trying new foods at a restaurant.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled some top tips to help you encourage your child with autism to try new things.
1) Find a hobby that matches their interests
Introducing a new hobby to your child’s routine is a great way to encourage positive change, especially if the hobby is based upon one of their interests. When choosing a hobby, it is important to consider that children with autism thrive when they feel stimulated, so try to choose an activity that they will find both fun and challenging.
Some popular hobbies for children with autism include:
- Model building
- Playing an instrument
You may also want to encourage your child to get involved in some kind of sports or fitness activity. Usually, children with autism tend to shy away from team sports, but there are still plenty of activities they can get involved in – from swimming to gymnastics. Our article on fitness activities for children with autism provides helpful information.
2) Present them with a challenge
As your child develops new skills offer them support when they need it. Tell them that you are proud of them for taking on a new challenge and let them know just how much they will benefit from it. However, you can also use this time to encourage them to step even further out of their comfort zone.
For example, if your child is a keen artist, compliment their drawing and present them with an artistic challenge: “I really like your drawing, I think it would look really good if you added some color to it”. By framing a new challenge in a positive light, you are subtly encouraging them to try something new without them feeling overwhelmed. You could also encourage creativity by watching drawing tutorials online. Here is a great kid-friendly example:
3) Try new things together
You should always lead by example. You can help your child feel more comfortable trying something new by doing it together. Whether that means trying a new route on a family walk, or taking part in an activity neither of you has ever done before – your child will feel more confident with you by their side. As their parent/caregiver, they place a lot of trust in you – therefore, seeing you being brave and taking a risk is likely to make them feel more inclined to do the same.
This can also be a great way to encourage them to diversify their diet and eating habits. Start by introducing one new food at a time – perhaps as a side dish to their main meal.
In short, you can encourage your child to try something new by simply being supportive! Find a hobby or activity they love, and support them as they take their first steps in this new world. Offer praise when they deserve it, and challenge them when you feel they are ready.
At Alee, we have years of experience working with children with autism and their families, ensuring that they are able to reach their full potential. In addition to offering advice and support, we provide a range of online and in person therapies, such as ABA (applied behavioral analysis) and speech therapy. Get in touch today to find out more about our services.