For children with autism and their families, mealtime can often be a struggle. If your child is having difficulties at meals, be sure to discuss the issue with his or her ABA therapist or to ask for advice during a parent training session. These strategies may also be helpful.
Determine if There Are Any Underlying Medical Conditions
Sometimes, children with autism have other medical issues that can interfere with their eating habits. These problems can range from cavities to digestive discomfort and acid reflux. Your child’s physician may screen for these conditions if mealtime is a challenge. If your child is having any of these issues, then addressing them could be the solution.
Develop a Routine Before Mealtime
There are many potential triggers for anxiety during mealtime, including the introduction of new foods, bright lights, and loud noises. In some cases, mealtime behavior issues are tied to these stressors. Creating a pre-mealtime routine that helps your child feel calm and confident can help. In some cases, simply sitting together for a short session of deep breathing can be helpful. Your ABA therapist can offer other suggestions for routines that can create a sense of calm before you sit down for a meal. Your child may take comfort in the routine itself and feel calmer when it’s time to eat.
Eat Meals as a Family
Eating as a family can easily fall by the wayside with busy schedules and a long list of demands, but doing so can be invaluable for your child with autism. When you all sit together and eat at the same time, it shows your child that mealtime is a normal activity for everyone to take part in. Likewise, your child will be more inclined to try different foods after watching you eat them.
At The Behavior Exchange, our ABA therapists can help you turn mealtime into a positive experience for your family through group therapy, one-on-one sessions, parent training, and much more. Get answers to your questions about our services by calling our autism treatment center in Plano at (888) 716-8084.
All children need regular and ongoing social interactions with their peers to develop socio-emotional skills. For children with autism, play dates are even more important because of the need for lots of practice with social interactions. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about whether he or she is ready for a playdate.
First, your child should have plenty of practice playing with adults. You can help your child learn about appropriate play and important skills like taking turns and sharing toys. A successful play date requires a child to know how to play with certain toys or games. Your child should also be interested in playing with his or her peers before having a play date outside of the ABA school.
Your child can prepare for successful play dates by joining the social skills classes at The Behavior Exchange. Our behavior analysts in Plano and Frisco guide school-aged children in learning important social skills and developing lasting friendships. Call (888) 716-8084.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based autism treatment. You can support your child’s progress by using ABA techniques at home. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about what to do. One example is to create situations that require your child to mand, or request items. Place a bowl of soup on the table for your child’s lunch, but don’t provide a spoon. Your child will discover that he or she has to ask for the spoon. A successful mand is rewarded with the requested object and praise.
You can also use ABA techniques at home to discourage problematic behaviors. When your child misbehaves, don’t reward the behavior. Let’s say your child has a meltdown because he or she doesn’t want to finish the broccoli before having ice cream. Don’t reward the inappropriate behavior with ice cream. This would only reinforce negative behaviors.
When you enroll in parent training classes at The Behavior Exchange, you’ll learn how to structure the home environment and use ABA techniques with your child at home. For more information, call our ABA school in Plano at (888) 716-8084.
Whether a child is typically developing or not, he or she can benefit from a structured environment and a predictable daily routine. Children with autism are particularly sensitive to changes in routine, and many of them have difficulty adapting to them. Autism therapy can help your child learn how to adjust to changes more easily. If your family is anticipating a major change in routine, you can talk to the ABA therapist about transitioning your child.
You know your child best. By now, you probably have a general idea of what sort of changes upset your child. It could be a major change like going on vacation or a relatively minor change like going to the dental office. Some children with autism have trouble switching between toys or activities. Doing routine tasks in a different order and unexpectedly canceling planned activities may also cause issues for your child.
Using Social Stories
Once you’ve identified changes that might upset your child, you can prepare him or her for them. Explain what’s going to happen and when. You can use social stories to help your child learn what to expect from the new event. A social story is a simple, straightforward depiction of an activity using pictures and words.
Your child may feel more control over the situation with the use of timetables. You can create a timetable for every day of the week to let your child know what’s going to happen. You could print the start and end time of the event next to a picture depicting it, but some children get upset if things take longer or end sooner than expected. Another option is to simply depict the events in order. Use a picture of a bathtub and then a plate of food to tell your child that he or she will take a bath before dinner. If your child is still having trouble transitioning between activities, try setting a timer. Tell your child that when the timer rings, it’s time to put away the toy and start another activity.
Here at The Behavior Exchange, we firmly believe every child is capable of leading a happy, well-adjusted, and productive life. Our board-certified behavior analysts in Plano would like to help your family cope with the challenges of autism. Call (888) 716-8084 to request an appointment.
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