Jul 1, 2021

planning and living with child with ASD

I'm going to assume that if you've come to read this page that you probably know what ASD is and more than likely have a child with it. However, for those of you who don't ASD means autistic spectrum disorder. Sometimes it can be called Autism, however, some people with ASD also have other conditions that are on the spectrum. People with autism tend to view the world differently than most people they can also behave differently, have different strengths and difficulties. They might have some characteristics of ASD and find it hard to express themselves in certain situations. Most people with ASD are able to talk for long amounts of time about things and topics that are they're passionate about and that interests them, yet it may not be things that "normal" people can relate too. Every autistic person is different so they may need things that are different from other autistic people. It's important to help them grow, cope and be able to achieve, to their best ability. People with autism are likely to need additional support and tools in order to live the best they can.  Below are some examples of what I use to make my life easier when having children with ASD. 

Why Plan?

When you have your child on the ASD spectrum it can be extremely difficult making sure you have some plans in place can make your life easier and allow you to sometimes take a deep breath and have some time for you normally. This is something that can be very rare as living life with a child on the ASD spectrum can be extremely challenging. When planning it's important to have advice from specialists such as an educational psychologist, speech and language therapist and maybe occupational health specialist, Anyone who is involved with your child. They often put a lot of recommendations into reports and have these recommendations from doing activities and watching your child in a number of settings including at home and at school. They use this information to enable your child is getting the best support possible and making sure that everyone involved with your child's care, is able to give him the same opportunity allowing them to grow, and having the best possibilities in life and strategies to enable them to function daily. 

Having Connections

Making sure that you have connections is extremely important to living life and planning things for children with ASD. Often parents feel alone, and like no one knows how hard things are, and they sometimes even feel ashamed. Having connections with other parents or family, helps you build support not just for yourself but also your child. Knowing other parents with children with the same problems as you can help you plan, and also feel like you have someone there who knows what it's like. If you are struggling its important to ask your local council if they run any special needs events because Bournemouth and Poole and Christchurch council have something called short breaks which allows family's with special needs to have breaks from their children. They tend to run in school holidays, they also have activities for families such as soft play evenings for children up to the age of 19 to attend. This allows families to Bond as their siblings are allowed to attend, along with being able to meet other children with special needs. This is also great for parents to meet families like yours and hopefully make some friends. If your child attends the special needs school then try and make some friends with mums or dads that children attend, that would also be in the same position as you and have children with special needs it may not be ASD it could be something more severe but they're likely to be in the same situation is you I need a friend, and someone to offer support. 

Allow children to make choices

Allowing children to make choices is part of normal life, no matter what age or disability. Your child needs to have a sense of control and know how to make decisions. This often starts at a young age and can be something as simple as choosing between an orange or banana to have for their snack. As they get older children could decide which plate they wish to eat from" the red or the Green", This can then be extended to a tv program or a film that they would like to watch. These activities are adult lead, and you give them only 2 choices, so it is easier for them to choose. This can enable children with anxiety and cope better. It also gives them a sense of control. For the older child then you could also help them a bit more Independence by allowing them to choose what they want to have for lunch, they may also be able to prepare and cook the chosen meal (again this is something you pre-plan, and give them options with meals for the ingredients you have in) allow them to make it themselves, even if they make a mess, if worried about them hurting themselves, make sure the ingredients is pre-cut, or if needs cooking, you tell them you will do it, but they can tell you how to turn it, stir or put things in and out of the oven this then allows them to feel great and like they have achieved something these are life skills that they will need them for life, they are also able to feel independent. 

Realistic expectations

Making sure you have realistic expectations is important. Make sure that you have realistic expectations of what your children can or your child cant do. Know how much they can handle, and their abilities set them tasks that may challenge them but not make them struggle. If they struggle at any point point where they have a meltdown, which is a sign they are not be coping. It is likely that you may also have to modify some tasks and to set out plans in small achievable tasks. Identifying some behaviours and skills that may be different in different environments, can also help you prepare yourself as a parent and your child. For example, it may be that your home is quiet, and your child is able to deal with this, but once they go to school they struggle with the other students and noise from a classroom. Parents need to make sure that children with ASD are prepared as much as possible to enable them to cope better. It's very important to make a list of how children progress and any basic needs that they have and any help that is needed. This, in the long run, will make sure that the child's needs are met and that their life is easier for them to manage, and also parents to keep track off, so that if any problems happen, they can be dealt with pretty fast, and if they need to talk to a professional and seek to advise they are in a better situation of understanding why something occurred or a trigger. 

How to add Structure

A structure can help children with ASD in a number of ways. Some children with ASD are non-verbal or may struggle with communication. They may also have problems with understanding instructions. It's likely they are may use a communication aid such as " Now and Next" this enables children to understand activities, and events in life that help them communicate or understand tasks in their life. This is normally done by using photos or clip art of items that the children are able to recognize depending on the age. For younger children, this is normally, toys or objects found in the home, that they use on a daily basis. The idea of a now and next communication board is that you allow the child to follow what is happening now and what is happening next. It just displays the image for the activity your currently doing, to what is coming up. You are likely to use this along with a timer, or another visual to enable the child to know when the first activity is coming to the end. Once you move to the next activity, you then remove the activity you have completed, and move the next activity to the new section on the board, and then place the next activity to follow. There are a number of places you can get the photos to help with the now and next bored however the website design bundles allows you to find photos easily that are great to use for the children now and next board. For example, if you were letting your child have a snack, you might use the apple photo which you find by searching apple svg, print it out and then use on your now and next board. They also offer things for daily life, which make things easier so for example if your planning to take your child to the doctor then you would print a photo of the doctor and then search stethoscope svg to help your child understand what's going to happen at the doctors after they arrive.  Using a now and next board helps children have less anxiety and be able to look at what they are doing, and doing next and stay on track. 

Keep a routine

Keeping to a routine is very important to children with ASD. They often find life a lot easier and are able to manage better. It can help reduce a lot of the stress and anxieties that they struggle with. One way to help is to keep to all routines. Having a morning routine can help children a lot, as some children struggle with the change in the morning and experience stress and anxiety as they get older and expected to be up early and ready for school. Allowing a morning routine, allows children to be able to know what's expected of them throughout the day, and getting into a good routine first thing in the morning keeps the anxiety and stress levels down for the rest of the day. They are also in control and using the other strategies that I have mentioned above will help them with structure. Even in half terms, it's important to stick to a routine as much as possible, as if this is changed or disrupted it can have a huge impact on a child with ASD. It's important to make sure that children with ASD have breaks, where the life might not be as structured, this would be a structured break and would allow the child to have "free time" for an activity they choose, or a quite time in maybe a tent or an area with pillows they can look at a book. Breaks for physical activity also free up a very structured life for children with ASD allowing children to be free which having physical activity is great for them. It allows them freedom, in a safe controlled environment. This can be from having safe activities for you ASD child to use in the garden, or layout the garden so they have different zones they can interact with, like a sports zone with a trampoline or a hula hoop, a water area, a slide or even a chill out area. 

Life is not pridictable

A huge thing about having children with ASD is to make sure that you're flexible. A child with ASD does like a routine and can be very rigid,  however, things can change, life is not predictable. ASD children do tend to struggle if something is not in a place where the child is expecting and things do need to be done a certain way. There may be a time when things are out of your control like Simply planning to go to the park and the park being shut this can, then cause ASD children huge disruption, and what is often called as a meltdown. Which then causes stress and anxiety to parents and does upset the child. With this in mind being flexible may mean to have to plan to where possible, planning ahead of time. Make sure that plans arranged are still doable and in place, or having a plan B. It's important that should something that's not predicted happened that you are patient and try and remain calm and stress-free, as sometimes our feelings and emotions cause effects on children with ASD. Its extreamly hard for your child as well as it's hard for you they're learning there adjusting and they're trying to work out who they are and what their life is is or means and how to live in it.

What Plans do you use to make living easier with a child with ASD?


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