ABA therapy providers recommend maintaining a predictable schedule for children with autism, as changes in routine can make them feel uncomfortable. However, change is sometimes necessary. An autism therapist can teach you the strategies that can help your child adjust to changes in daily life. These strategies can be effective regardless of whether the change is minor (wearing a new shirt) or major (taking a family trip).
Introduce visual aids.
Visual aids will improve your child’s understanding of the world around him or her, including changes in daily routines. Experienced parents of children with autism often have large schedules posted prominently in the home to help kids keep track of what they’re supposed to be doing at any given time. A large wall calendar can also introduce upcoming events. If your family will be taking a trip to the aquarium in a couple of weeks, you can talk about it with your child in advance. Help him or her mark it on the calendar and, each day, count down the number of days remaining until the trip.
Use social stories.
The more your child knows about what will happen and how he or she should behave, the easier the transition will be. Use social stories to explain every detail. Social stories consist of simple sentences matched with pictures that explain a common event, such as going to grandma’s house or meeting a new friend.
Practice doing the new activity.
Children with autism can make amazing progress when they have the opportunity to practice new activities. This is true of everyday events like talking to peers and for special occasions like flying on an airplane. For instance, you and your child can go to the airport before the departure date to explore the terminal and security checkpoint. Some airlines have even held events that let kids with autism get on a plane to experience the concept of flying without actually going anywhere.
The behavior analysts at The Behavior Exchange are on a mission to improve quality of life for your whole family by reducing undesirable behaviors like resistance to change. Call our autism therapy center in Plano at (888) 716-8084. We look forward to meeting your family and helping your child reach his or her full potential.
Everyone has individual quirks. For instance, you might need to have your alarm clock placed at a particular angle on your nightstand before you can fall asleep. In children with autism, these behaviors are called rituals or routines, and they’re not always harmful. When a child’s rituals do interfere with his or her life and productivity, an ABA therapist can help.
Identifying Rituals and Routines
Parents often find it helpful to keep a written record of their observations. This lets the autism therapy provider become more familiar with a child’s individual behaviors, and the extent to which they might be a burden on family life. Some examples of ritualistic behaviors include:
- Dressing and re-dressing several times each morning
- Asking the same question repetitively and requiring the same answer
- Arranging toys in a specific order
- Drinking only from a specific cup
- Needing to flush the toilet upon entering each new building
Knowing When Rituals Become Problematic
It’s common for parents of children with autism to learn to pick their battles. But sometimes, even benign rituals can become problematic. For example, if a child needs to change his or her clothing five times every morning, he or she might be habitually late to school. When determining whether to work with an ABA therapist to change ritualistic behaviors, consider whether the behavior interferes with your child’s:
- Social interactions
- Academic progress
- Physical health
- Family relationships
Additionally, consider whether the rituals might be problematic for other family members or the family as a whole.
Handling Ritualistic Behaviors
When working with a child who engages in repetitive or ritualistic behaviors , a therapist will consider what might be driving the behavior. Perhaps the child is distressed by the environment or upset by changes in routine. Sometimes, rituals can serve as a coping mechanism for children who crave greater structure. A therapist can work with your family to establish boundaries and limits for the child, decrease anxiety in everyday life, and lessen the duration and frequency of the behaviors.
At The Behavior Exchange , it’s our mission to empower families affected by autism. Our behavior analysts serving Plano offer one-on-one and group therapy that can help children with autism change behaviors that might hold them back in life. Connect with us at (888) 716-8084 to discuss whether your child might benefit from working with one of our dedicated ABA therapists.
Every child deserves to enter school fully equipped to learn, but many kids with autism struggle with deficits that inhibit their progress before they can even get started. The dedicated ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange encourage parents of preschool-age children to consider enrollment in our Early Start Program, B.E.E.S. Within a positive setting, we guide young children toward developing the social, behavioral, and academic school readiness skills they need to get the most out of kindergarten.
Each B.E.E.S. class has a child to therapist ratio of 3:1 to ensure each of our students receives personalized support. This enrichment program gives kids a secure setting in which to learn how to make friends, interact with others in appropriate ways, and enjoy fun, age-appropriate play. The skills your child will improve upon in B.E.E.S. also include communication and motor skills.
If you’d like to enroll your child in our ABA school, call The Behavior Exchange at (888) 716-8084. Our autism classrooms near Plano welcome students of all abilities!
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