Supporting Your Child's Development at Home: Activities and Strategies for Parents
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, it's important to know that you can play a crucial role in supporting their development at home. Here are some activities and strategies that can help them to learn, communicate, and have fun.
Activities to do at home
1. Sensory Activities
Sensory activities are a great way to engage children with autism. Sensory play can help develop their sensory processing skills, stimulate their senses, and provide a calming effect. Some examples of sensory activities include playing with playdough, finger painting, or exploring sensory bins filled with different textures such as sand, rice, or beans.
2. Indoor Obstacle Courses
Obstacle courses are some of the best ways for your child to work on their balance, strength, gross motor skills, and coordination while having fun. Using furniture, pillows, blankets, and other items to create a fun obstacle course. For children who have difficulties with motor planning and sequencing, this activity will provide them with an opportunity to practice completing tasks and problem-solving.
3. Bubble blowing
Blowing and catching bubbles helps children with sensory and joint attention difficulties. You can even make your own bubble solution and use different kitchen utensils, like a slotted spoon, to make bubbles. One of the main benefits of bubble play is that it encourages parent-child interaction. Since your child needs your support in blowing the bubbles, he will make more eye contact with you or try to communicate verbally using a sound or a word.
4. Pretend play
Pretend play can be a valuable tool for ASD children. It can help them develop social skills (help children learn how to interact with others in a social setting, understand emotions and develop empathy towards others), improve communication (they learn to use language to express their ideas and feelings as well as practice conversation skills, such as asking and answering questions, making requests, and giving directions), encourage creativity and imagination (it allows children to think outside the box and explore different scenarios, promoting problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and decision-making abilities). As parents, it is good to provide opportunities for children with autism to engage in imaginative play and support them in their play experiences.
Strategies to use at home
1. Use Visual Supports
Visual supports can be helpful for children with ASD, as they often have strong visual processing skills. This may include using visual schedules, visual prompts, visual reminders, and visual timer. Visual aids can be a helpful tool to help your child understand what is expected of them and reduce anxiety in unfamiliar situations.
2. Create a structured and predictable routine
Children with autism often thrive on structure and routine. Having a predictable routine can help reduce anxiety and provide a sense of security for children with autism. Establishing a daily schedule or visual calendar can help your child feel more comfortable and help them understand when transitions are coming.
3. Provide sensory-friendly environments.
Children with autism can be highly sensitive to sensory stimuli such as loud noises, bright lights, or strong smells. Providing a sensory-friendly environment that is calm and soothing can help your child feel more comfortable and reduce their anxiety. This may include reducing clutter, using calming colors, providing weighted blankets or vests, using noise-cancelling headphones, or using dimmer lighting.
4. Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is an effective tool for shaping behavior in children with autism. Praising and rewarding your child for positive behaviors can help encourage them to continue those behaviors. Reinforcement can be in the form of verbal praise, tokens, or preferred activities.
Supporting your child’s development at home requires a little extra effort, but it’s worth it. By implementing these strategies and activities, parents can help their children thrive and reach their full potential. Remember to be patient and understanding, and to celebrate your child’s progress along the way.
Written by Kaixin Choo