A major hurdle for many kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is finding the means to communicate their internal thoughts clearly. Connecting with a kid on the spectrum can prove challenging, and it can also be difficult dealing with sensory meltdowns and tantrums.
Fortunately, help is available to connect better with your kid on the spectrum. Oftentimes, you don’t need to talk—or even touch—in order to communicate and bond. The way you look at your child, the tone of your voice and your body language speaks volumes. In the same way, your child is also communicating with you, even if he or she never speaks. You just need to learn the language.
Here are 4 ways to help you connect with your kid on the spectrum better.
1. Look for Nonverbal Cues
By being observant, you can learn to pick up on the nonverbal cues that children with ASD use to communicate. Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make, their facial expressions, and the gestures they use when they’re tired, hungry, or want something.
2. Dealing with Tantrums
When children with ASD act out, it’s often because you’re not picking up on their nonverbal cues. Throwing a tantrum is their way of communicating their frustration and getting your attention. Find out what your kid likes and use it to help reduce their anxiety. Once calm, your child will be in a much better position to explain why they are feeling upset.
Often, autistic children find a lot of enjoyment and comfort in listening to music. Especially, for younger kids and toddlers, music can provide a host of developmental benefits to help your kid communicate better. Check out this blog to find some soothing music to help calm your kids down before sleep.
3. Make time for fun
For both children with ASD and their parents, there needs to be more to life than therapy. Schedule playtime when your child is most alert and awake. Figure out ways to have fun together by thinking about the things that make your child smile, laugh, and come out of their shell. Activities like dancing with your kid can have tremendous benefits in that they help them channel their energy in a healthy way, and can also help them communicate themselves through body language better. Your child is likely to enjoy these activities most if they don’t seem therapeutic or educational.
There are tremendous benefits that result from your enjoyment of your child’s company and from your child’s enjoyment of spending unpressured time with you. Play is an essential part of learning for all children and shouldn’t feel like work.
4. Pay attention to your child’s sensory sensitivities
Many children with ASD are hypersensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Sometimes, even things such as a flickering TV and computer screen can trigger a sensory meltdown. It may be wise to limit screen time for your kid on the spectrum, and find other ways to reduce harsh lights and noises in your house. Katie Bonnema, a mom from Michigan, has built a sensory corner at home showcasing how Jooki helps her autisic daughter calm down through stories and music posted on Instagram. A sensory corner combined with musical therapy not only helps mitigate harsh lights and sounds for your kids, but also helps calm them down. A great way to prevent tantrums from occurring.
Figure out what sights, sounds, smells, movements, and tactile sensations trigger your kid’s disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems, preventing situations that cause difficulties, and creating successful experiences.
If you are struggling to connect with your child, there are national services that can provide therapy for your children. Under the U.S. federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities—including those with ASD—are eligible for a range of free or low-cost services.
If you’d like to pursue special education services, your local school system will first need to evaluate your child. Based on this assessment, an Individualized Education Plan will be made to help outline the educational goals for your child for the school year.
P.S. you may find that Jooki will hugely entertain a child on the spectrum, encouraging imagination and creativity and expression.
Stay in tune for more from parents who have found Jooki to be a great help to them and their autistic kids.
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