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.

Parenting will always be tough – whether your kids are in the infamous terrible twos or entering their teens. However, if you are raising a child with autism or a related disorder, you may initially find it hard to provide them with the support and care they need to thrive in any situation. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can begin to better provide for your child – many of which revolve around loving and respecting them for who they are. In this case, it’s important to remember that your child is not their autism diagnosis – it’s just a tiny component of who they are. They are also many other things – funny, kind, intelligent, and ultimately, capable of achieving their goals. With that in mind, here are some top tips that you can incorporate into your daily life to be the best parent possible for your child.

Unfortunately, there are many myths out there surrounding autism or what it means to be autistic – and these misconceptions can change how people respond to a person with autism or a related disorder. For example, they may believe that your child is less capable than they actually are based solely on their diagnosis. By doing your research and learning more about autism, you can help dispel these myths while ensuring you continue to meet your child’s diverse needs. You should also ensure that you discuss autism with other children in your family so that they understand why their siblings may behave a little differently to them. 

Attending therapy sessions, whether online or in-person, is another excellent way to begin to better support your child. For example, you could help your child find their voice through speech or ABA therapy. As each child is different, you must do your research ahead of time to ensure that you select a therapy program that is right for them and meets their unique needs. At Alee Behavioral, we’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about our services and will provide individualized therapy to improve your child’s skills and prepare them for a brighter future. 

Studies suggest that children with autism or related disorders prefer to follow a routine. This is because a well-structured routine removes the element of surprise from their daily lives, and they will not find themselves in a situation they are uncomfortable in. One way in which you can achieve this goal is by putting together a weekly calendar, which clearly details what your child will be doing each day and when. Following a routine is also a great way to encourage your child to follow a healthy lifestyle. If you are planning to deviate from their routine, ensure that you inform your child of this change in advance with as much notice as possible. 

Sometimes, children with autism or related disorders may find it harder to communicate how they feel, especially when entering a new environment. Therefore, to support your child, you should pay close attention to any non-verbal cues they may exhibit so that you know when they need extra support. For example, they may show signs of discomfort through nail-biting or hand tapping. 

When raising a neurodiverse child, it’s easy to feel separated from other parents as the issues you deal with on a daily basis are quite different from those that they may encounter. Therefore, joining support groups or connecting with other parents of children with autism or related disorders is a great way to gather more support or ask for advice when you need it. 

Many children with autism or related disorders have a ‘special interest.’ This is a specific hobby or activity that they enjoy more than anything else, and as a result, would like to dedicate most of their time to it. While it’s important that you encourage your child to diversify their interests and try out new things, you should also try to get excited about their special interests too and support them as they pursue their hobbies. This will help them feel more relaxed and confident. Furthermore, it could help them develop their communication skills as they discuss their interest(s) with you. 

While you may not always understand why your child is behaving in a certain way, especially if they are acting out of character, it’s essential that you are patient. For example, if your child is experiencing symptoms of a meltdown, you should remove them from that situation immediately and into an environment where they feel more comfortable. You should then help them find ways to calm down before asking them to explain how they are feeling to you. If they find it hard to discuss their emotions, you could use a feelings chart to help get the conversation going. 

In short, the easiest way in which you can provide for your child is simply being there for them – and letting you know that you’re there to help no matter what they may be going through. Doing so will enable you to raise a strong, confident child ready for whatever life may throw their 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.

Autistic Child Finding Voice

 

When we are young, we begin to develop a range of skills that we will then carry with us into adulthood. This includes skills in areas such as problem-solving, relationship-building, and communication. In fact, these skills are often the foundation upon which our future personalities are based upon. However, some children with autism find it harder than others to communicate with their peers and loved ones. This could be due to the fact that they find communication in general difficult or because they are non-verbal. In fact, it is estimated that 40% of people with autism are non-verbal. With that in mind, it is important that you help your child with autism develop their skills in communication so that they can find their voice and reach their full potential.

Here are some simple ways in which you can get started and help them find their voice!

 

While many travel plans may have been put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the success of vaccination schemes and safety procedures means that we could very soon be traveling freely again. This means that it’s finally time to start planning your family vacation (or staycation, if you want to stay a little closer to home).

However, while many view vacations as something exciting and relaxing, children with autism or related disorders may view them with a degree of apprehension. This is because vacations often signify a break in their daily routine – which for many is a cause of discomfort. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they don’t enjoy traveling and won’t have a good time on vacation; it just means you need to find a way to make it as fun and exciting as possible for them.

With that in mind, here are some ways to help prepare your child for a fun family vacation.

Involve them in the planning process as much as possible.

As mentioned previously, children with autism and related disorders often thrive when they can stick to a certain routine or schedule. As you will be interrupting that schedule, you must help them prepare for this change so that it does not come as a surprise. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can do this:

Put together an itinerary.

Though you may want to spend most of your vacation relaxing, an itinerary is a great way to help your child make the most out of their vacation. It takes away the element of ‘surprise,’ which can help them feel more comfortable and relaxed. When putting together an itinerary, consider the following:

Focus on making them comfortable.

When heading out on vacation, ensure you do whatever it takes to keep your child feeling relaxed and comfortable. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can do this, such as:

 

Though each and every person who receives an autism diagnosis experiences autism differently, there are often symptoms that overlap with each other and are experienced by a vast number of people. For example, children with autism often deal with some form of sensory regulation.

What is sensory regulation?

Sensory regulation refers to the way in which we respond to certain stimuli. This could include sensitivity to:
– Sight (Specific colors or levels of brightness)
– Touch (Certain textures or materials)
– Taste (The taste, or texture of certain foods)
– Sound (Specific sounds or levels of volumes)
– Temperature (Heat, or the cold)

For example, you may not like how a knitted jumper feels on your skin because it is made of itchy material. Alternatively, you may choose to avoid certain foods due to their texture instead of their actual taste. Our responses to certain stimuli can be broken down into two sections:

Hypersensitive. Generally, a hypersensitive response refers to an overactive response to certain stimuli – wherein the child will make their displeasure clear and actively avoid that object in the future.

Hyposensitive. A hyposensitive response often refers to an under-reaction, or perhaps more succinctly, a lack of reaction to certain stimuli. For example, children with autism sometimes do not respond to body signals in the same way as a neurotypical person, meaning that they may have poor balance.

How can I help my child work through sensory issues?

Thankfully, there are various steps you can take to help your child address (and combat) their sensory issues.

Here are some great examples to get them started.

Dealing with hypersensitivity.

– Find the cause of their discomfort, and try to figure out exactly what makes it uncomfortable for them. For example, they may say that they don’t like certain clothes when in actuality, they dislike the sensation caused by the label on the inside. Alternatively, they may say they don’t like having a bath – but may actually be responding to the temperature of the water. Encourage them to use descriptive language when explaining themselves so that you can work towards a resolution quickly.

– Where possible, avoid situations where you know your child will feel overstimulated. For example, if they are susceptible to loud noises – then you may want to avoid busy areas such as public transport during peak hours. If this is impossible, you could provide your child with headphones that block out the bulk of the noise.

– Use arts and crafts to introduce new textures to your child gradually. For example, you could spend some time putting together a collage using materials you find around the house – encouraging them to use things that they may not have felt entirely comfortable with in the past. This is a great way to slowly and safely expose them to new sensations in an environment where they feel comfortable.

– Find ways to help them remain calm if they feel overstimulated or oversensitive. For example, you should always find a way to help them step away from situations that make them feel uncomfortable – as remaining in the situation is often not the best step to resolving the issue.

Dealing with hyposensitivity.

– If your child deals with hyposensitivity that results in lower body awareness, it may mean that they struggle with balance and coordination. You can help them improve these skills by participating in fitness activities, which often help children and young people become more aware of their bodies and how they move.

– Help them gain a deeper awareness of what is happening around them by focusing on ground techniques. For example, if they appear to be lacking in focus, ask them to list: 5 things they can see, 4 things they can touch, and 3 things they can hear.

– Surround them with objects that can stimulate their senses. For example, this could include a fidget spinner or cube. Studies show that these tools can be handy when they are trying to concentrate.

At Alee Behavioral, we have years of experience working with children with autism and related disorders, helping them reach their full potential. We offer a range of specialized therapy services, from speech therapy to applied behavioral analysis, that can help them adjust to any issues they may be facing – whether that means sensory regulation or processing change. Get in touch today to find out how we could help your family!

 

 

As a parent, you will always want what is best for your child. This often means that you’ll go above and beyond to find a way to make them happy and create an environment in which they can thrive. However, when a child is diagnosed with autism or a related disorder, usual parental worries may be elevated, as it might take them a little longer to get used to certain environments and situational changes.

With that in mind, here are some top tips you can use to help your child with autism thrive in any environment – whether they are spending time at home or in school.

Understand what autism actually is.

Unfortunately, it took a long time for medical professionals to understand autism, which came hand in hand with plenty of myths about what autism is and how it presents itself. As a result, you must take some time to thoroughly research the condition once your child has received a diagnosis. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of your child and how they may be feeling. You can also gain insight by talking to your doctor or medical practitioner. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that autism can present itself through different symptoms, meaning that not every child will act or behave in the same way.

Talk openly and candidly about how you are feeling.

The more open you are, the easier it will be for your child to speak up when they are struggling. Remember that sometimes, children with autism may find it harder to express their emotions – so try to explain why you feel a certain way when expressing yourself. For example, you could say, ‘Today I am feeling frustrated because I didn’t get enough sleep and couldn’t get all of my work done’. You can follow this statement by asking how they are feeling and why they feel that way.

Help them find a suitable outlet for their emotions.

This could include playing an instrument, exercising, or even taking part in arts and craft sessions.

Implement structure & routine.

Children with autism or related disorders often prefer to stick to a specific routine. Therefore, you can help them reach their full potential by providing them with a structure they can depend upon. One way in which you can do this is by putting together a calendar at the start of each month – so that they know what activities or events they have to prepare themselves for. Alternatively, you could also use this calendar to help them start preparing themselves for unexpected elements or changes – by adding a ? mark on certain dates or times – revealing your plans to them at a later date.

Utilize therapy.

Autism therapy – whether that means speech therapy or ABH (Applied Behavioral Analysis) – can provide your child with the tools and techniques they need to reach their full potential in their daily life. This can help prepare them for any of the situations that life may throw in their direction with confidence and flexibility.

In short, there are various steps you can take to help your child thrive in any environment they may find themselves in. However, the most important advice to remember is that you simply need to let your child know that you are there for them no matter what – providing them with the support and guidance they need to navigate their way through life.

Any questions? Give us a call!

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