How to help kids with autism deal with change?
Children with autism prefer a safe and familiar routine which has a clear structure and purpose. Any kind of change can seem puzzling and frightening to them. They find it very difficult to deal with change.
If there’s a big change coming up in your autistic child’s life, it is better to be prepared in advance. Here is how you can help kids with autism deal with change:
Plan ahead for change
In order to help the child prepare for upcoming change, parents and caregivers must plan in advance. If the change can cause your child to unsettle or get upset, think of ways to help your child handle the change. A calendar or a countdown timer can be useful to help your child understand when the change will take place. This will aid in reinforcing the changes and increase your child’s comfort level with them.
Parents must try to include a new activity daily in order to help their child deal with change. By doing so, they will encourage flexibility towards change. By using a visual or picture schedule to reflect change, your child can learn that it can bring fun and excitement in their lives.
If the change involves visiting a new location, parents and caregivers can make videos that can help children understand what to expect. For example, if you are planning to go to the zoo, try visiting it first and videotape while explaining aspects of what usually happens there. Show the video to your child several times to help prepare him for the change. According to research, videos help decrease the chances of disruptive behavior in ASD children.
Inform the right people
Children with autism might feel stressed with school and other social situations while they’re going through a big change in their lives. Inform your child’s teachers and caregivers about the change and help them understand ways to deal with your child’s anxiety. Involve them proactively to make the transition easier for your child.
Make use of social stories
Social stories are a great way to prepare a child with autism to deal with change. They can be used for anxiety-provoking social events such as first day of school or visit to the doctors. Social stories are often illustrated and describe different situations and activities, so that children with ASD know what to expect. They can be a big help for an autistic child due to their visual nature.
Although change can cause major anxiety for children on the autism spectrum, a calm environment, visual tools, and parental support can help them adjust to any unexpected change.