When deciding how best to help your child, you don't have to do everything at once. You are allowed to make decisions that work for your child and family. You can try one or two practical strategies and see if they help. Many parents find the following general guidelines helpful. And remember, AANE is just a phone call or email
away. We are happy to help.
Be kind and patient
Your child is not being difficult on purpose. He has underdeveloped skills that require patience, understanding, teaching, practice and accommodation. Think of what it’s like for your child to manage in a world that doesn’t always make sense and isn’t set up for her way of thinking and being.
Acknowledge your child’s strengths
Let your child know you recognize his strengths. Try to give 4 positive comments for each time you correct or critique him.
Allow time for special interests: Your child is expending extra energy every day. Allow time for her to relax and recharge without pressure.
Look for a good fit
Certain environments, activities and people will be a good fit and others won’t. Some children's sensory sensitivities make being around large groups very uncomfortable. They might find certain food smells or tastes objectionable. They might cover their ears while others sing at a birthday party. Try to make sure your child has access to the places, activities and people who help him feel comfortable or provide accommodations, like earphones or a quiet space apart from the crowd, when the environment can’t be modified.
Teach Underdeveloped Skills
Many children with Asperger profiles need to be directly taught social skills, taking the perspective of others, problem solving, staying calm when frustrated, or time management. What you focus on and when depends on your child’s particular mix of strengths, challenges, interests, goals, and what’s most problematic. Learning new skills takes time. Parents and other adults need to continue to provide environments that allow the child to feel safe and secure. Check out our Parenting Toolbox
for practical parenting strategies.
Making your child’s world more predictable will help him know what to expect. Many families find that using visual schedules/calendars
help the child see what the day will look like, decrease anxiety and frustration, and reduce incessant questioning about what will happen next. It is helpful to include, “This schedule is subject to change,” on calendars so that your child knows sometimes schedules change and we can’t always predict when!
Preview Transitions and Changes
When you do know about upcoming transitions or changes to the schedule, let your child know in advance (and in writing or with pictures
It’s easy to lecture or nag when your child does something repeatedly that you find frustrating or don’t like. But if you talk too much, your child can’t absorb what’s most important and what you specifically want her to do. Consider using visual strategies
to help your child process the information and see what you want her to do differently.
Use Calming and Coping Strategies
Not only do you want to help your child learn how to stay calm when frustrated - you need to find strategies that help you stay calm too! Think about one or two things you can use to help you manage stress or stay calm when you start to feel yourself getting upset. Many parents like to meditate or take a walk. Others like to read or knit. Others find hard physical activity or time with friends helps too.
Seek Out Support
You don’t have to do this on your own. Contact AANE
, join AANE parent online discussion groups
, or schedule parent coaching
. AANE has hundreds of parents who know what it’s like to raise a child on the autism spectrum. Join one of our support groups
or attend parent or family events
to connect with other moms or dads who understand.
Create a Team
Many parents are looking for that “general contractor” to look at the big picture of everything going on with their child. They want someone to provide guidance for setting priorities, planning and evaluating what’s working and when something needs to change. Parents are most often the general contractors for their own child; but it can be overwhelming and parents often wonder if they are on the right path. Parent coaching
can help you assess your situation and create a plan that is just right for your child and family. AANE can also refer you to local professionals when you need a particular expertise added to your team. You don’t have to do this all on your own!