There are around 3.5 million Americans with autism spectrum disorder today. Chances are that you’ve run into a few people with autism at the grocery store or at work, and may or may not have known it. But when the person with autism is your child, you notice every symptom and eccentricity.
As a parent, you want to have a connection with your child. Autism spectrum disorder is famous for making that difficult. Experts in working with autistic children have these tips to offer.
1. Be More Verbal
As you may know, a hallmark of autism spectrum disorders is that the person has a hard time interpreting social cues the rest of us naturally learn. In particular, nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language are challenging for your child.
Start paying attention to the way you communicate. Don’t rely on nonverbal cues to show what you think or how you feel. Put your feelings into words so your child understands.
2. Say What You Mean
On the same topic of subtle communications, recognize that your child will take words literally. They often don’t pick up on sarcasm, exaggeration, and other figures of speech.
When you speak with your child, choose your words carefully to make sure they know what you mean. If you accidentally use a figure of speech, use it as a learning opportunity and explain it to them.
3. Be Patient While Working with Autistic Children
Patience is a good rule while speaking with any child, but it’s especially important for kids with autism spectrum disorder.
You may need to take your conversations more slowly and stick to one thought at a time. If your child forgets or misunderstands something, explain it to them and don’t get frustrated. They’re trying to understand you, not irritate you.
4. Observe and Learn
Every child with autism spectrum disorder is unique. Kids have varying levels of function, different fears and challenges, and their own communication styles.
Treat every interaction with your child as an opportunity. Observe them and constantly strive to learn about them.
Find out which communication techniques tend to work best for your child, which subjects and activities make them feel more comfortable, and which environments make them feel safe.
5. Communicate with a Pro
There are many therapies and treatments that can help kids with autism spectrum disorder. These experts aren’t just able to help your child: they can help you too.
Maintain regular communication with your child’s therapists, teachers, and other professionals who work with them. Ask for their observations about what communication methods work well for your child and what you can do to help your child on a daily basis.
Parenting with Knowledge
No child comes with a handbook, but children with autism spectrum disorder are especially unique. They require a whole different learning process when it comes to making a connection and developing your relationship with them.
The tips above from experts in working with autistic children are a powerful start to help you connect with your child. For more tips, check out more articles on our parenting blog.