With the closure of schools, parents have suddenly turned into full time teachers. In addition to the many tasks parents are already asked to do, they are now in charge of their children’s educational needs. This adds high stress to parents, but is also a drastic change for all children, especially those with Autism. Here are 5 tips to use to successfully teach your child with Autism at home.
1. Be consistent
Children with Autism learn best when they have structure. This means putting a routine in place immediately. Work together to create a schedule that will work for everyone in the household. Post the schedule where it can be visible for everyone, and refer to the schedule often throughout the day.
2. Tune into your child’s behaviors
Making the adjustment to being home can be challenging for children with Autism. Tune into your child when behaviors begin to arise. Consider what happened right before the behavior started. Is your child giving you non verbal cues that they are becoming frustrated or anxious about something? Are they becoming frustrated over the same problem, over and over again? By tuning into your child’s behaviors, you’ll have a better chance of understanding the problem, and fixing it before the behavior continues.
3. Give positive reinforcement
All kids learn best when they are positively reinforced. The first step to positive reinforcement is to “catch your child being good.” This means to find a moment where your child is following directions, attempting something new, taking turns effectively, etc. and to immediately praise your child. This might be verbal praise, like “I’m so proud of how you shared the toy with your brother.” You might also positively reinforce your child by adding a motivator, such as a sticker, or a few extra minutes to play outside. Positive reinforcement is a great way to promote your child’s positive behaviors, which over time will begin to limit negative behaviors.
4. Create a calm down area
It can be overwhelming for children with Autism to be confined to the house. They are used to spending time in their classrooms, on school playgrounds, and at various activities throughout the week. This change can add frustrations for your child, and sometimes your child might need an independent place to calm down. Try making a calm down area in a quiet place in the house. Add sensory items, such as hand fidgets, earmuffs, gum, or a calming book to help make the area inviting and perfect for cool down times.
5. Have fun!
It’s important to remember that this temporary normal is temporary. So try not to be too hard on yourself, or your child. This is a great time to try a new science experiment, play a new game in the backyard, or spend some extra time reading with your child. Remember that it’s okay to use this time to slow down and catch up on some family time you may have been missing out on.