The new academic year can be challenging for any child. After all, entering a new grade (or school entirely) comes with a shift in responsibilities and expectations. They will also have to adjust to a new teaching style and re-integrate with their peers after spending a lot of time at home. Furthermore, due to school closures in 2020, these changes may feel even more intense as students transition from homeschooling and to a classroom environment. However, the prospect of returning to school may be even more difficult for children with Autism and related disorders.

 

As such, it’s important that you find as many ways as possible to prepare your child to go back to school!

 

Talk about going back to school ahead of time. Children with autism often react best to new situations when they are able to prepare for them ahead of time. Therefore, you should ensure you give them plenty of advance warning before their first day at school rolls around. One way in which you can achieve this goal is by making it part of your daily conversation. For example, you could ask them what they are most excited about learning in the new year, especially if their special interests align with the school curriculum. You can also bring it up more casually by saying, ‘School starts in ___ days, let’s get everything ready!’. Shopping for new clothes and supplies is another great way to help them feel more prepared.

 

Ask to meet their new teacher ahead of time. As your child moves into a new grade at school, it’s likely that they will also be assigned a new teacher. While this can be incredibly exciting, it does mean a slight deviation from what they are used to – as they may have grown accustomed to a specific teacher’s teaching style or behaviors. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can go about making your child feel more comfortable with a new teacher. For example, you could ask if they can meet with their teacher ahead of time, ideally in their new classroom, to get a feel for the space. Alternatively, you could schedule a quick zoom session with the teacher so that your child can introduce themselves and ask any questions they might have.

 

Set new goals for the academic year. Children with autism and related disorders are often very driven and like to present themselves with a series of challenges. As such, they usually thrive in an academic environment. Therefore, you can help them feel more excited about starting school by encouraging them to set themselves new goals for the academic year.

 

Put together a schedule. Children with autism or related disorders also tend to thrive when operating in a clearly structured environment. In this regard, attending school each day works in the favor – as they will be expected to arrive at the same time each morning and eat lunch at the same time each day. However, you can support them during this time by putting together a clear schedule for the rest of their time. For example, they should have a short break after school before doing their homework or participating in extra-curricular activities.

 

In short, there are various steps you can take to support your child as they prepare for the new school year. Doing so will support them through these changes and ensure they put their best foot forward. However, if you think they may need some additional support – we offer both in-person and online therapy services designed to help children with autism and related disorders thrive in any situation.

Four Ways To Make Day-To-Day Life Easier For Your Child With Autism

We all run into struggles in our day-to-day life. However, during adolescence, these problems often seem far worse than they actually are. This is due to the fact that during this period in our lives, we’ve yet to develop the appropriate coping mechanisms and skill sets that enable us to work towards a quick and easy solution to our problems. As a result, children and teenagers are more likely to feel overwhelmed when things get tough. Thankfully, as a parent, there are various steps you can take to make day-to-day life for your children with autism easier, and by extension, less overwhelming. 

Doing so is particularly important for parents of children with autism and related disorders since they experience life a little differently to neurotypical children and, as a result, may require different kinds of support.

With that in mind, here are four ways to make day-to-day life a little easier for your children. 

Create a safe space for them. 

Whenever things get overwhelming, your child with autism must be able to retreat into a space where they feel safe and comfortable. This is one of the easiest ways for your child to calm down, especially if they are showcasing signs of a meltdown. Therefore, you should focus on creating a safe space for them at home. Typically, it is advised that these spaces are quiet and relaxing, with minimal furniture or decorations used – especially if your child struggles with sensory regulation. Furthermore, you should make it clear to your child that they can use this space as often as they like – and that they don’t have to ask for permission to do so. 

Follow a Routine

Establishing a clear routine is another great way to make your child with autism’s life easier, as it removes the element of surprise from their day. For children with autism or related disorders, surprises can often be the cause of great stress or discomfort, as they usually like to know what they are doing ahead of time so they can suitably prepare themselves. By putting together a daily routine – and discussing this with your child – you’re helping them prepare for what is ahead. 

Encourage them to attend therapy sessions. 

For children with autism and related disorders, attending therapy sessions with a licensed practitioner is a great way to help them develop the skills they need to better manage their symptoms and gain independence. For example, speech therapy is a handy tool for children with autism as it can help them to better communicate with others and find their voice. In doing so, they may also find it easier to discuss their feelings and emotions – meaning they can ask for help when they need it. 

At Alee Behavioral, we offer a range of online and in-person therapy services – including applied behavioral analysis that can be tailored specifically to the needs of your child. 

Change the situation, not the child. 

Whenever autism and related disorders are discussed in the media, the conversation often centers around autism being something that needs to be treated instead of managed. However, this simply is not the case. An autism diagnosis does not mean that your child is any less capable or less worthy than other children – they just experience life a little differently than the rest of us. Therefore, you can make your child’s life easier by understanding that when your child’s behavior is erratic or unpredictable, you need to change the environment around them instead of the child’s behavior itself. For example, if you are in a loud or noisy environment that is causing your child discomfort – instead of encouraging them to stick it out – move to a quieter place, or provide them with noise-canceling headphones.

In short, there are various steps you can take to make your child’s life easier on a daily basis – many of which involve being open-minded and supportive. Sometimes, simply asking your child what they need or how you can make things better for them can go a long way.

How To Help Your Child With Autism Formulate A Routine

 

Having a routine in our daily life can prove to be highly beneficial. This is because it allows you to better manage and divide your time between work and your social life and develop healthy and lasting habits. However, for children (and adults) with autism and related disorders, a routine can be invaluable due to the fact that it allows them to better manage their symptoms by providing them with a clear structure and a sense of familiarity. 

Therefore, while life can sometimes be unpredictable, you must make an effort to put together a daily routine that works for your child. Here are some top tips to get you started! 

  1. Wake up and make their bed.
  2. Brush their teeth.
  3. Wash their face.
  4. Get dressed.
  5. Have breakfast.

In short, there are various steps you can take to put together a routine that works for your child – though perhaps the most important step is ensuring that they feel relaxed and comfortable. 

 

How To Help A Child With Autism Enjoy A Big Family Event

 

As COVID restrictions begin to reduce globally, we can start to make plans to spend time with our extended friends and family once again. This means that you’re bound to be receiving invites for large-scale events such as reunions, birthday parties, and even weddings. While a big event is enough to make anyone feel a little anxious from time to time, they can be even more daunting for those with autism or related disorders. 

This is because they are often crowded and noisy, leaving children feeling stressed or overstimulated, particularly if they deal with sensory issues. Furthermore, children with autism and related disorders may sometimes find it harder to respond to social cues, meaning they may find socializing within a formal setting particularly difficult. Despite this, it’s important that you do not exclude them from the event altogether by leaving them at home – after all, they are a member of the family, and their presence is just as important as anyone else’s. With that in mind, here are some ways in which you can help make it easier for your child with autism to attend a big family event. 

Add the event to your calendar as soon as possible.

Children with autism and related disorders often value routine. It allows them to ground themselves in the world around them and prepare themselves for any changes that might be coming their way.  Therefore, one way in which you can help them prepare for the family event is by adding the event to your calendar as soon as possible. You can then talk them through the process, giving them an idea of precisely what to expect when they attend the event. You could even ‘rehearse’ certain scenarios, such as the kind of conversation they might have or the food they might eat. 

Planning ahead for the event also means that you could spend some time discussing the party during an online therapy session. At Alee Behavioral, we’re always on hand to provide you with the tools and techniques you need to help your child thrive in any situation.  

Bring plenty of snacks with you. 

While there will likely be a variety of delicious food and drink to enjoy at the party, they may not always be the best choice for your child. Regardless of any special dietary requirements, they might have, they may be unwilling to try new foods as they prefer to stick to things they already know they enjoy. While it’s good to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, as they are already in an unfamiliar environment, bringing some food and drinks along with you is a great way to help them feel a little more relaxed and comfortable. 

Bring headphones and toys. 

If the event includes loud music (or you are already dreading your aunt bringing out the karaoke machine), it may also be beneficial to bring along some headphones for your child to wear, especially if they have expressed some kind of sensitivity to loud noises in the past. You should also ensure that your child has plenty of toys or activities on hand that they can use to keep themselves entertained during the event so that they do not feel left out or bored. 

Be prepared to leave early. 

While your child may be trying their absolute best to get involved in the party, it’s essential that you do not force them to stay in a situation that they find particularly uncomfortable. If you notice any signs of discomfort or struggle, it may be time to say your goodbyes and head home to avoid upsetting your child. If your child is particularly hesitant ahead of time, you could make a compromise wherein you agree to spend a set amount of time at the party (i.e., a few hours) – but you must ensure you hold up your end of the bargain if this is the case.

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