How do I interact with my child with Autism?

Interacting with children who has autism may be more difficult,
but it is certainly possible to do so in a way that allows the child to feel safe.
Here are a few ideas for how to make this easier.

  • Recognise the child’s sensory preferences. A hypersensitive child won’t appreciate being touched, as having a sensory overload is a very unpleasant experience. An under sensitive child, on the other hand, may prefer physical contact.
  • Imitate the child’s play. Don’t try to force them to play in a more “normal” way, rather, approach them and see what they are doing and try to imitate it. See if they will continue contact with you.
  • Remember that children with ASD may not keep eye contact and may do other things while you talk, like fidget, but this doesn’t mean that they are not listening. Fidgeting with a toy may help them feel calmer, for instance.
  • Have patience. Children’s behaviors can be changed through patience and by reinforcing them with little steps. For example, if the child looks at your face during a conversation, you might praise them. However, don’t expect them to change their behaviors immediately.
  • Problems with communication doesn’t mean the child has a intellectual disability. In many cases, the child understands more than they can express and do, which may lead to frustration. It’s better to repeat things with patience and allow the child to try and communicate at their own pace.
  • Make sure the child is paying attention before you talk to them. Use their name or engage them through their interests. After you speak, give the child some time to process the information. Keep in mind that an environment with a lot of stimulation can distract them and make them process longer.
  • Keep it simple. Try to avoid metaphorical language. Use plain words and keep the questions short, without asking for something too wide. You can use visual cues to support your words.
  • Encourage their communication, using words or engaging in contact. Make it easier for them, but also allow opportunities to let the child try. Don’t ask questions that are too broad. If the child is only just learning to speak, it can help to use single words to label objects.

Remember that for many children with ASD pictures and other visual cues are very helpful.

Find out more about Visuals and Visual Learning

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