Has your child recently been diagnosed with autism?
Are you struggling to understand what could be going through their mind?
Finding out that your child has autism can initially be quite a daunting experience. There’s a lot for you to learn about the condition, for example understanding behaviours, getting to know your child’s individual needs and learning what help and support is available.
We asked expert teachers from across Priory Education Services together with parents of pupils at Priory schools to share their advice and experiences of supporting children with autism in the film below:
Six key pieces of advice to remember:
1. “Every behaviour happens for a reason... it’s not an autistic behaviour it is a human behaviour”
It is wise not to take negative behaviour from your child at face value. Remember that it is not an ‘autistic behaviour’ it is a human behaviour - there will probably be something going on behind the scenes.
Look at what happened right before the negative behaviour and ask yourself:
• What activities were taking place?
• What time of day did the behaviour happen?
• Who was involved?
2. Know their limits
Getting children involved in a group activity may seem like a great idea in terms of engaging with others and forming relationships. However, for a child with autism it could cause distress and may not be a meaningful activity. Instead, look at an activity which could embrace their strengths for example creating a useful spreadsheet for household chores and pocket money, or writing a story about their day so far.
3. Keep calm and compassionate
If you need to discipline your child, do so calmly and compassionately:
• Don’t attempt to impose discipline when they are emotionally unable to interact. For example if they are angry or anxious.
• Monitor the tone of voice – keep calm and be soft in your approach
• Be supportive and offer ways to problem solve their behaviour. For example, use role play to show them a more positive way to handle the situation going forward.
• Use social stories or visual aids to demonstrate ‘good behaviour’
• Be a positive role model for your child. Show them the correct way to respond to criticism.
4. Be realistic
Don’t offer an unrealistic choice to a child with autism and be sensitive with the choices that you put forward. It’s very important to give all children choices to help them learn appropriate behaviour so whenever possible, try to offer a choice which has a positive outcome.
For example, asking “Would you like to write your name at the top or bottom of the page?” means that either way they will write their name on the page and will feel supported in their decision.
5. Give positive, clear instruction
Don’t leave room for confusion. If you are giving instructions, keep them positive and make them crystal clear.
For example, don’t make a statement such as: “ Look at the mess you’ve made on the table.” Instead say: “ Please clear the table and put any rubbish in the bin.”
6. Give warning
Getting from home to school or to a relative or friends house can be a stressful experience as it can take a little longer for children with autism to process this transition.
Giving them a two minute or five minute warning can really help. Use a visual aid , such as a clock face, to count down to the time of the next transition – this will help them handle the change on their own.
For more details on Priory Education and Children's Services, please call 0118 970 8068 or click here to make an enquiry.