Easy to follow advice to help your young person reach their full potential and have fun doing it! Incorporate these strategies into your daily life and watch them shine.
1. Carefully notice what passion your young person is currently into. Consider if it is functional. For example, could it eventually lead to a career? If so, foster it. If not quite, is there something similar that you could gently introduce your young person to? My son used to make ‘silly sounds’ which I worked out was to make people laugh. We gently introduced magic tricks which he ended up being into for years, and it had the same entertainment value in a more functional way.
2. Young people with Autism have strengths and weaknesses like everyone. Parents try and make the most of their child’s strengths, and help their kids learn skills in areas of need. We are all on the strengths and learnings continuum. Help your young person to work out their own strengths, values, needs and goals.
3. Learn how to meet the young person where they are at, and gradually take them up to the next step in their development. Break tasks down into smaller parts to make them more achievable.
4. In terms of development, assist your young person to master tasks in this order:
- Personal care (ie brushing teeth, packing bag)
- Domestic activities (ie unpacking dishwasher, making bed)
- Community activities (ie money handling, shopping and transport)
5. Work out what motivates your young person. This can really help them to get through less preferred tasks, by knowing that something more interesting lies ahead. This is a technique we use ourselves as adults. For example, ‘once I get this report written, I will go and buy a coffee’.
6. Overlaying the tasks in Tip 5, are the following:
- Managing emotions
- Relating to others
- Solving problems
- Remembering, planning and initiating.
Break these down into smaller steps, focusing one a couple of key points at a time.
7. Help your young person understand the physiology behind their sensory superpowers, and ways they can cope with them and use them to their advantage.
8. Check that your young person hangs out with other young people ie at least 2 lunch breaks per week at school. If not, explore ways to support and assist them to do this.
9. Work out what common activities ALL your family members enjoy doing, and structure 3 of them per week into the family routine.
10. Find a therapist who understands your young person’s needs well, and makes sense. Ask yourself: are they addressing my core needs? Are they making a difference? Does my young person want to attend?
Leanne Hopkins is an Occupational Therapist at Succeed Healthcare Solutions and is passionate about families being empowered to be their best selves.