Parenting a child with autism can be both rewarding and stressful. While parents know their child best, they may not be aware of easy-to-use interventions that can help make a meaningful difference in their child’s behavior. Parents who educate themselves about tools for teaching children with autism also help alleviate many of the stressors that are common in a family with a child with autism. Below are some simple interventions that parents can use throughout the day.
1: Support Pivotal Response Treatment. One of today’s most popular and effective treatments for children with autism, Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), uses natural learning opportunities to target and modify key behaviors, leading to rapid and sweeping behavior changes. Now parents can learn all the basics of PRT and support this treatment for their children with “The PRT Pocket Guide: Pivotal Response Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders,” a quick and practical guidebook by PRT developers Robert and Lynn Koegel. Packed with helpful tips and vivid examples based on actual children, this concise how-to guide reveals the secrets to motivating children with natural reinforcers, reducing disruptive behavior, encouraging communication and social initiations, helping families weave interventions into daily routines, and more.
2: Increase attention. The ability to focus on a specific task to completion is a foundational skill for life. Whether it is cleaning up their room or calling a friend for a play date, children rely on direction from others and the ability to execute those directions within themselves. Parents can help increase their child’s attention span and ability to follow directions with the software program, HearBuilder Following Directions Home Edition. Created by Super Duper Publications (www.superduperinc.com,) it covers 40 basic concepts that help children ages 4-9 (grades PreK-3) improve their ability to listen to and follow directions while they play fun interactive games. This research-based program automatically adjusts the difficulty level based on the child’s performance in the program.
3: Sustain engagement. As many children on the spectrum tend to focus on their own individual interests before those of others around them, it is imperative that parents and family members create positive memories and engage in activities that will cause their child to develop a vested interest in the world around them. Games can be a great way to engage a child, but oftentimes can be confusing and overwhelming for children with autism. With MagneTalk Turns and Topics, a magnetic board game for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), children are able to have fun, increase concentration and communication skills, and learn basic game playing. The game offers four magnetic boards that increase in difficulty.
4: Use interests as a learning tool. Many children with autism develop an acute curiosity in a specific topic, interest or subject area. Engage your child in meaningful play by using her natural fascinations and interests as an opportunity to learn. One common fascination in children with autism is trains. Author and inclusion expert Paula Kluth has created a book that teaches vocabulary by using a child’s fascination with trains in “A is for ‘All Aboard!’” Published by Brookes Publishing Co., the book includes steps for using the book as a teaching tool as the child’s skills progress.
5: Foster social skills. Developing key social skills and the ability to relate to others requires age appropriate and contextual dialogue. Often children with ASDs have a difficult time developing these skills, and lacking these skills prevents them from interacting with peers and the world around them. With the Practicing Pragmatics App, children learn age-appropriate behaviors and responses through social skills questions about politeness, solving problems, feelings, giving information, requesting information, telephone skills and staying on topic.
By learning how to support the treatments your child receives and how to best expand their learning throughout the day, you are ensuring that you will have happy and stress-free days with your child.