The main thing I wanted to know after my son was diagnosed with autism was what can I do to support him. Autistic people think differently therefore we need to teach and support them differently. We now use a variety of different ways to teach, play and interact with my son that are suited to his needs.
All children will respond to therapies and support methods differently and something may work one day and not the next. The more we can understand and have on offer the better. Here I will show you some of the main methods we have used successfully and link to more information on each.
Speech & Language
Both of my children have speech and language difficulties. My eldest (5) is non verbal and uses the Picture Exchange Communication System® to communicate. Here is a post about speech and language and communication in autism.
If your child is struggling with speech, language or communication you can get a referral to see a speech and language therapist through your health visitor, school / nursery or GP.
Seeing speech and language introduced us to a great therapy for improving attention – Attention Autism we are big fans of attention builders in stage 2. It also supported us to implement the Picture Exchange Communication System / PECS®.
I have learnt about the need to find motivating items that my children really want to interact with. Along with the importance of supporting and using their special interests to encourage communication.
I took a while to use visual aids properly and wish I had done it sooner. Visuals are a huge support ensuring my kids who struggle with language really understand what is happening, where we are going or what I am saying. Find out more in my post about using visual aids to support understanding. I also have a post on creating visuals.
Visuals can also be used to support teaching non verbal children to read.
Using social stories is a fantastic way to communicate and support children with autism. Find out what they are and how to write them for your child in my post on Social Stories.
Interaction & Play
How we interact and play with our children can make a huge difference. I have been using Intensive Interaction with my youngest and it has really made a difference for him. I wrote a guest post on the importance of play that you may find interesting.
There are so many great ways to use music to interact with children, playing instruments, singing and dancing. Music Therapy has been amazing for both my children, from building confidence to communication skills. Find out more in my post about music and autism.
TEACCH is a teaching method specifically designed for children with autism. It is fantastic, it provides a routine and structure for teaching that seems to really work for many autistic children. Find out more about using TEACCH at home.
Reading with Children
I read to my children as babies and I was surprised how hard it was to engage them with story time as they got older. There are some brilliant ways to use stories to get children interested in reading.
If you needs some inspiration here is my top 100 books for under 5’s.
Messy play is a brilliant way to interact with your children. Many autistic children will be sensory and messy play is a very sense based activity. If you want some ideas check out my top 7 messy play activities.
Cooking with Children
Cooking or baking is a great fun with children and using visuals in this can make a big difference too. See my post with ideas for cooking with children and some printable visuals.
Most autistic children have sensory issues, this can be sensory seeking as well as avoiding. You can work with occupational therapists to develop a sensory diet for your child to ensure they are getting their sensory needs met. Find out more about the sensory side of autism. You also may be interested in sensory toys.
Choosing the right therapies
There are so many therapies offered to support children with autism and you need to ensure that you fully understand and if they are right for you and your child. You may find this post on choosing autism therapies.
Using rewards can be a great support method to encourage your child. Rewards won’t work for every child but when they do they can be very helpful.
Therapy and support
There are lots of acronyms and words that may be new to you if you are still learning about autism, this glossary may be helpful.
I have also started to interview various autism professionals so we can learn a little more about the people and their roles who are working with autistic children. See my first interview with Sarah an Educational Psychologist.
You may be interested in getting my free guide to the top autism therapies for young children. You get this free when you sign up to my monthly newsletter.