A Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Learn about autism spectrum disorders—especially the specific disorder of your child. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child. Your state’s Parent Training
and Information Center (PTI) can be very helpful. You’ll find your
parent training center
listed by state here. We’ve also listed organizations at the end of this fact sheet that can help you become knowledgeable about your child’s disorder.
- Be mindful to interact with and teach your child in
ways that are most likely to get a positive response. Learn what
is likely to trigger a melt-down for your child, so you can try
to minimize them. Remember, the earliest years are the toughest,
but it does get better!
- Learn from professionals and other parents how to meet your
child’s special needs, but remember your son or daughter is
first and foremost a child; life does not need to become a
neverending round of therapies.
- If you weren’t born loving highly structured, consistent
schedules and routines, ask for help from other parents and
professionals on how to make it second nature for you. Behavior,
communication, and social skills can all be areas of concern for
a child with autism and experience tells us that maintaining a
solid, loving, and structured approach in caring for your child,
can help greatly.
- Learn about assistive technology (AT) that can help your
child. This may include a simple picture communication board to
help your child express needs and desires, or may be as
sophisticated as an augmentative communication device.
- Work with professionals in early intervention or in your
child’s school to develop an IFSP or an IEP that reflects your
child’s needs and abilities. Be sure to include related
services, supplementary aids and services, AT, and a positive
behavioral support plan, if needed.
- Be patient and stay optimistic. Your child, like every child, has a whole lifetime to learn and grow.
- Learn more about the autism spectrum. Check out the research
effective instructional interventions and behavior. The organizations listed in this publication
can also help.
- Make sure directions are given step-by- step,
verbally, visually, and by providing physical supports or
prompts, as needed by the student. Students with autism spectrum
disorders often have trouble interpreting facial expressions,
body language, and tone of voice. Be as concrete and explicit as
possible in your instructions and feedback to the student.
- Find out what the student’s strengths and interests are and
emphasize them. Tap into those avenues and create opportunities
for success. Give positive feedback and lots of opportunities
- Build opportunities for the student to have social and collaborative interactions throughout the regular school day.
Provide support, structure, and lots of feedback.
- If behavior is a significant issue for the student,
seek help from expert professionals (including parents) to
understand the meanings of the behaviors and to develop a
unified, positive approach to resolving them.
- Have consistent routines and schedules. When you know
a change in routine will occur (e.g., a field trip or assembly)
prepare the student by telling him or her what is going to be
different and what to expect or do.
- Work together with the student’s parents and other school
personnel to create and implement an educational plan tailored
to meet the student’s needs. Regularly share information about
how the student is doing at school and at home.
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