Interacting Positively With Children On the Autism Spectrum
Every once in a while, it’s great to get a refresher on how to interact with children on the Autism spectrum positively. You might be the parent or grandparent of a child with ASD or a teacher or neighbor who wants to be prepared to offer support.
Whether you’re just learning about ASD or have years of experience, it’s always a good time to brush up on positive interactions. That way, you can practice them in your own life and help others by spreading awareness on the topic.
What is ASD?
ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The word “spectrum” is crucial because it offers a lot of insight into the nature of Autism. As the name suggests, individuals with Autism experience symptoms on a spectrum. No two people with ASD are the same!
ASD is a developmental disorder that impacts how a person communicates and interacts with others.
Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder include:
- Repetitive physical behaviors like rocking or kicking
- Trouble socializing
- Difficulty understanding social cues
- Concepts around emotions are especially challenging
- Being avoidant and resistant to physical contact/touch
- Trouble speaking, understanding, and communicating in general
- Intense or extreme reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, etc.
- Alarmed when their regular routines are disrupted
What to Know About Children With ASD
Although it has no known cure, many effective treatment options and strategies for thriving with ASD exist. Knowing what to expect from individuals with ASD goes a long way in creating positive interactions and offering meaningful support.
Some things we know about children with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
- Nonverbal communication might be a mystery to them. Don’t be surprised if they don’t know how to interpret your frown, smile, or other facial expressions.
- They might be experiencing stimuli very differently than you. Sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that do not affect you might significantly impact them.
- Simple, focused conversations are probably best. Tackling multiple ideas or topics at once is not ideal.
- They might seem uninterested in talking, but they would love to talk about specific topics. Listen, and you might be surprised how much they have to say about their favorite book, character, or sport.
- Get ready for them to take what you say literally! You might tell a child with ASD to “wrap it up,” but don’t be surprised when they ask, “wrap what?” With this in mind, try to say exactly what you mean.
Building Positive Interactions
With all of that in mind, there are several things you can do to support positive interactions with children who have ASD. Try not to get discouraged if you don’t see as much progress as you like. Over time, these strategies will help you become more adept at navigating interactions with children on the spectrum.
- Here are some tips for interacting positively with children who have ASD:If they’re blunt, try not to take it personally. Remember, they might be having a very different experience than you, and they will express themselves differently, too.
- Experiment with communicating outside of verbal language. For example, you might use gestures, sounds, or objects to express your point.
- Just because they don’t prefer certain methods of affection or engagement doesn’t mean they don’t want any! Take the time to try and understand their unique preferences around connection and tenderness.
- Remember that new situations and environments can be especially challenging for children with ASD. Try to apply a generous amount of patience and kindness to every interaction, just as you would want if you were frightened or uneasy.
Conclusion: Interacting Positively With Children Who Have ASD
Interacting with children who have ASD can sometimes feel like learning a whole new language. But when you take the time to understand someone who uniquely experiences things, you begin to see that you are both speaking the HUMAN language!
Just because a child doesn’t respond the way we’re used to doesn’t mean they aren’t full of ideas, hopes, dreams, and fascinations. As with any relationship, time and attention are your most valuable offerings. Give them regularly, and you’ll be delighted at your progress toward interacting positively with children who have ASD.