Visit any grade school special education room across the country, and you will see the same thing. Laminated schedules with photo icons either hang on the walls or are carried around on clipboards.
At 11 a.m. Kylie points to the icon showing a child eating. She moves the magnetic-backed picture from the left side of the schedule to the right as she takes out her Paw Patrol lunch bag. The lunch bag is kept in the inside pocket of her backpack. Nothing else goes in this pocket. The lunch bag is packed with the same thing every day: 8 carrot sticks and hummus, 4 whole black olives, and an almond butter sandwich with the crusts cut off.
Every day that Kylie is at school, this is her 11 a.m. routine. Kylie, like 1 in 68 U.S. children, is “on the spectrum.” Her parents began noticing differences between Kylie and her peers when she was four years old. After consulting with doctors and behavior specialists, her parents were given the official diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Kylie’s parents worked with a certified behavior specialist who helped them organize their home to accommodate Kylie’s personality best. If you are one of the 68 U.S. homes like Kylie’s, here are some tips on how to support a child with autism.
Think of jobs that are the same each time the child does it. Maybe show your child how to clean the bathroom sinks with non-scented wipes. Perhaps you can teach your child to fold and put away bath towels or kitchen towels. Keep rules and jobs specific and straightforward. Vagueness can confuse a child on the spectrum.
Discuss rules and enforcement with your child’s special education teacher. Try to agree on a list of specific rules for your child that can overlap between home and school. Be consistent with the language you use to prompt behavior, and if appropriate, also use the same kinds of reinforcement for your child’s appropriate or inappropriate actions. Make sure everyone who works with your child knows these verbal prompts -- including the siblings and grandparents at home and paraprofessionals and classroom teachers at school.
Again, this takes a great deal of communication and cooperation between the school personnel and parents, but working out these systems ultimately benefits the child and creates a happier home and school environment.
Set regular times for meals, school, chores, therapy, and bedtime. Don’t forget to schedule time for fun! During free time, let your child choose their own activity.
Adapt your home environment to his hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities. Pay attention to lighting. Does your child react negatively to bright lights or complete darkness? What about the scents in your home? Avoid overly scented personal products, room deodorizers, and candles. Also be aware of your home’s noise level. Encourage those in your home to speak in a quiet, even tone of voice. Be mindful of the sound from the TV, radio, video games, and appliances.
Support begins with consistency
Whether your child has been diagnosed with ASD or your child has a classmate at school with ASD, it’s important to be educated about how to support him or her.
Cadily’s Magnetic Chore Chart is an excellent tool to help bring structure to children’s lives and keep them productive and motivated, but it is an especially great tool for a child with autism. Our chart can help your child understand the specific task she is being asked to do. The chart provides a task for your child to “check off” once that job is complete. Your child will also get a visual reminder of the reward they will earn after following directions.
Are you a special education teacher? For information about ordering chore charts in bulk for your classroom, contact us today.