Supporting Your Child with Autism [Home Strategies]

Children with autism need home strategies to keep learning and growing.

In-clinic ABA therapy can be lifechanging for your child with autism. However, children don’t live in the clinic—they live at home with you! For all their hours outside the care of a licensed clinician, the guidance they get at home should bolster their progress in the clinic. This is where you can support your child with effective home strategies.

What does this support look like? Let’s review the most effective home strategies you can use to help your child with autism.

1. Structure and Consistency

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often find comfort in routine and predictability. A consistent daily schedule can help reduce anxiety for children because they’ll know what to expect. By intentionally creating structure and consistency, you can help your child transition between activities smoother and avoid being triggered by unfamiliarity.

Some tips for building structure and consistency at home might include regular times for meals, therapy, school, play, bedtime, and other daily activities. You can also work to create a safe, structured, and sensory-friendly environment to help your child feel more comfortable. This could include having a quiet space for your child to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed or arranging the furniture in a predictable and orderly way.

2. Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can be very helpful in giving a child more stability and predictability. Use visual schedules with pictures or symbols to represent different activities, which will help your child become familiar with and prepared for the day’s events. Charts, calendars, or color-coded systems can also help a child understand what to expect and provide reminders for tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed.

A woman helps a young girl do a puzzle on a tablet.

3. Use and Encourage Clear Communication

Using simple, concrete language can make it easier for your child to understand and follow instructions. If your child uses non-verbal communication, visual aids and gestures can be effective communication tools. It’s also important to give your child time to process your instructions and respond.

Encourage them to express their feelings and needs, as well. If verbal communication is challenging, consider using visual aid tools like picture cards, sign language, or digital communication apps. Communicating clearly with a child with autism takes time and creativity, but seeking to understand them is one of the best ways to support their development.

When your child shows progress in understanding instructions or communicating their needs, give them positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is an effective strategy to encourage desired behaviors. This involves praising your child or providing a reward when they demonstrate a positive behavior. The reward could be verbal praise, a favorite toy, a sticker, or a fun activity.

4. Provide Sensory Activities

Many children with autism have heightened sensitivity to sensory experiences. Providing sensory activities tailored to your child’s preferences can be calming and enjoyable. This could include playing with squishy toys, listening to soothing music, or spending time in a swing. It’s a balance of finding something enjoyable for your child, but not overwhelming them with too much sensory stimulation. You know your child best and will find the right things that resonate with them!

5. Encourage Play and Social Interaction

Playing can help children with ASD improve their social skills, communication, and understanding of the world. Encourage play by introducing toys and activities that align with their interests, and encourage them to communicate with you while they play.

To help develop their social skills, try involving siblings or peers in playtime to foster social interaction. You can also help your child practice social skills by role-playing different scenarios at home. This could involve taking turns, sharing toys, or practicing greetings.

6. Keep Learning and Seek Professional Support

Parenting a child with autism can be challenging, but with the right knowledge and strategies, it can be very rewarding for both you and your child. Getting outside help from an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy clinic can also teach your more about what your child needs to keep progressing and growing their independence. You might have to get creative with what works for your unique child, but emphasizing routine, clear communication, positive reinforcement, a safe and structured environment at home will help them immensely.

At Sonoran Learning & Behavioral Services, we offer caregiver training with all of our therapy services so that skills can be translated from the clinic to the home with ease. And if you are looking for specific parent coaching from a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst, we also offer virtual coaching through Black Diamond Behavior Consulting.

Why is it important to support a child with autism at home?

Consistent home strategies for children with autism ensure that the progress achieved in ABA therapy is reinforced and continues in the child’s everyday environment.

What are the most effective home strategies for autism support?

1. Structure, consistency, and predicability in the daily routine and home environment.
2. Visual aids to help children understand tasks and routines.
3. Prioritizing clear communication, so children can understand instructions and can learn to communicate their needs.
4. Providing sensory activities to calm, soothe, and bring enjoyment to a child with autism.
5. Encouraging play and social interaction, bringing siblings or friends into play time.
6. Continuing your education as a parent and finding quality outside help from an ABA therapy clinic.

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