One in 150 children in Singapore is diagnosed with autism, according to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the National University Hospital. If you’ve just recently learned that your child is one of them, worry not. Although children with autism experience development disorder that affects their behaviour and communication and social skills, there are still ways for your little one to thrive.
To celebrate World Autism Day, we list down some tips to help you support your child and provide him with an enabling and nurturing environment.
#1 Seek guidance from professional therapists
Learning that your child has autism may be overwhelming at first, especially if you do not know how to deal with the situation yet. Consider seeking help from quality therapists in the following areas: occupational behaviour, speech, relationship development, and social skills.
#2 Reinforce learning by being consistent
Autistic children have a hard time learning and applying skills in their everyday lives. The best way to reinforce learning is to create consistency both at home and in school. Some examples of being consistent include sticking to a schedule that your child will be familiar with such as regular time for meals, therapy, study, and play. Avoid disrupting this routine so he will know what to do at certain times.
#3 Be a champion of positive reinforcement
No matter how small, show your child how much you appreciate his achievement. Praise him for any good behaviour or signs of progress when he’s trying to learn something. Children with autism respond well to positive reinforcement and it doesn’t have to come in grandiose forms. Sometimes, an extra playtime or a little surprise goes a long way.
#4 Communicate in a clear and simple manner
The key to make an autistic child understand something is to simplify it. Avoid talking to him with sarcasm, metaphors, or idioms because he interprets language literally. Speak in a clear and simple manner to avoid confusion.
#5 Set aside time for fun
Play brings an incredible feeling to your child, which he can associate with enjoying your company. In between juggling your task as a mum and his schedule with school and therapy, make sure to let your child have some fun-filled downtime so he won’t feel pressured or stressed with everything that’s going on around him. At the end of the day, he’s still a child.
#6 Provide a conducive and safe space
Establish a safe zone in your home where your child can play, relax, and learn. If your child is hypersensitive, ensure that he has a noise-proof, well-lit, and well-ventilated space. Also, do not forget to childproof your home especially if he has a tendency to harm himself.
#7 Don’t be afraid to try different approaches
Every child is different but knowing the behaviour and understanding the needs of your child with autism will soon lead you to the right parenting approach. Don’t limit yourself to just one formula, or a single advice from therapists or teachers. The key is to always observe your child’s behaviour and take note of what works and doesn’t work for him. Be patient and in time, you will figure out what works best.