Raising an autistic child presents a unique set of challenges. One of the most difficult is developing strong relationships between all family members. If your child is on the spectrum, these usually tight bonds can become quite strained. However, with these simple tips, you can develop a positive parent-child relationship and foster strong family relationships to last a lifetime.
You can have a positive relationship – here’s how
#1 Don’t make assumptions
Usually, you can “read” how someone is feeling by taking cues from their facial expressions, body language or tone of voice. However, these cues aren’t that easy for an autistic child. They may be non-verbal, or speak in a flat tone, even when happy. And, eye contact and appropriate gestures can be even more difficult. So, don’t assume your child is being rude or dismissive by speaking flatly or not using appropriate body language.
#2 Get involved
For many parents, constant requests to come and play can be quite frustrating. However, this request is music to the ears for parents of autistic children. They haven’t developed the skills to imagine what they want, and speak those desires out loud. This doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t want to play with you; simply that they don’t know how to express it. So, don’t stand by waiting for them to start playing. Instead, encourage them to have fun with you by initiating a game or activity. This could be something like colouring-in, or playing with dolls.
#3 Learn your child’s interests
Typically, autistic children have different interests to other children. They may not be interested in team sports, for example. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have favourite activities. Watch your child playing and try different activities. These can include: dance, hiking, going to concerts, fishing and more.
#4 Introduce new activities
Autistic children are often resistant to change. So, introducing a new routine or activity can be a slow process. So, don’t give up; just remember to be patient. Introduce a new game, activity or place gradually, with words and pictures. Then, move in short stages to the new activity.
#5 Have expectations
An autistic child may not be a typical achiever. They might not win academic or sporting awards at school, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t progressing. It’s important to only hold your child up to the standards relevant for them. Remember to celebrate with them every time they reach a new milestone.
For more advice on building a trusting relationship with your child, call or email Autism Adelaide today.