As a mother of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and a specialist SEN teacher, Krista Dadford understands the joys and challenges of this journey.

Autism is a complex neurological condition that affects social communication, behaviour and sensory processing. Your child’s challenges are not indicative of their potential but rather a unique lens through which they experience the world. Children with ASD may exhibit a wide range of behaviours and characteristics. Some may have difficulty with social interactions and communication, while others may display repetitive behaviours or intense interests in specific topics. Understanding this spectrum of behaviours is key to tailoring your support.

Each child with ASD is a unique individual with their own strengths and passions waiting to be discovered. As you get to know their interests, you can tap into these as powerful motivators for learning and growth. Whether it’s a fascination with numbers, a love for art, or a deep interest in animals, these passions can serve as entry points for learning and building connections. Encourage and nurture these interests to help your child develop skills and boost their self-esteem.

Communication can be a challenge for children with ASD, but it’s a skill that can be developed with patience and persistence. Explore various communication tools, such as visual schedules, social stories, and AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) systems. Tailor these tools to your child’s needs and preferences. Consistency is crucial in developing effective communication strategies. Set clear expectations, provide opportunities for your child to communicate, and reinforce positive attempts at communication. Over time, you’ll see progress in their ability to express themselves and understand others.

Children with ASD often thrive on routine and predictability. Establishing a structured daily routine can provide a sense of security and stability for your child. However, remember to allow room for flexibility and adaptability as well. Create visual schedules that outline daily activities, helping your child anticipate what’s next. Be mindful of transitions, which can be challenging. Use visual cues and verbal reminders to ease transitions and reduce anxiety.

Sensory sensitivities are common among people with ASD. Pay close attention to your child’s sensory triggers and preferences. Each young person’s sensitivities are unique, so it’s essential to observe and adapt your environment accordingly. Creating a sensory-friendly home environment involves minimising sensory overload. This may include dimming lights, using noise-canceling headphones, providing sensory toys, or creating a calm space for relaxation. Experiment with different sensory activities to help your child regulate their sensory experiences.

Praise, rewards, and acknowledgment of achievements can motivate your child to engage in positive behaviours and develop new skills. Set clear expectations and provide specific feedback when they accomplish tasks or display positive behaviour. Be consistent in your reinforcement, and tailor rewards to your child’s preferences. Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool in shaping behaviour and building self-confidence.

Connecting with support networks, both online and offline, is invaluable on this journey. Other parents who are on a similar path can provide practical advice, empathy, and a sense of community. Additionally, seek guidance from professionals, such as therapists and educators, who specialise in working with children with ASD. Online communities and social media groups can be excellent sources of support and information. Here, you can share experiences, ask questions, and learn from the experiences of others. Remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. There are people and resources available to assist you.

Krista Dadford
Author: Krista Dadford

Krista Dadford
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Krista Dadford is an experienced SEN tutor at SENsational tutors.

Facebook: @SENsational Tutors 

Instagram: @sensationaltutors

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