• Many people with ASD have poor auditory processing skills and will struggle with a set of verbal instructions on its own and will need visual prompts and clues, such as visual timetables, labelled drawers, instructions/steps for tasks, etc. They can also benefit from being given warnings that something is about to change, such as a 5 minute warning before bath time, a change in lesson or activity or when something is going to finish. Some people will also need specific tasks breaking down for them, such as how to have a bath from start to finish.
• As people with ASD have difficulties in social and communication skills, they should be given opportunities to practice these in a safe place where they do not feel threatened or intimidated. Role play is one way for a family, friend, colleague or staff can get someone with autism to see different scenarios and how to act appropriately in them. This way they will feel less anxious when they go into different or unexpected situations.
• Often people with ASD can lack understanding of what has been said and can lead to negative behaviours being exhibited. Therefore, make sure they are not just repeating what you have said - their understanding of tasks and information needs to be checked. Using clear, brief language can help.
• Many educational texts books and information sheets are not written in a ASD friendly way and may need to be reworded into language the child understands. Often they are quite capable of completing the tasks when it is in a language they understand.
• Building some form of physical exercise into their daily routine can help children to concentrate better and lower anxiety.
• Age appropriate 'fiddle' toys such as stress toys, play dough/putty, fidget spinners, etc. can help a person to lower their anxiety levels so that they are able to keep calm and return to a task.
• One way of dealing with frightening social ordeals may be to run away from the situation and hide somewhere they feel safe, or their own bedroom at home. Giving children with ASD a safe place to go instead of displaying a negative behaviour can help, and this may also work alongside a reward system. Another way they might deal with the problem is to shut down inside and ignore everyone and everything around them, or to vent their frustration and anger in a negative way such as lashing out or disruptive behaviour. Again, help will be needed to learn some strategies to enable them to deal with their concerns.
• Keeping a diary of negative behaviours can help to see if their are patterns to behaviours - such as certain times of day, certian lessons at schools, certain people they are with, etc.
• Many people with ASD have poor auditory processing skills. Limiting the amount of language when giving instructions can help. Too much speech can confuse them, heightening their anxiety and rendering them incapable of carrying out tasks. They may benefit from visual cues, such as written instructions, labelled drawers and cupboards. Checking their understanding can also help as theu can often repeat things word for word giving the impression they have understood, but when asked 'what does that mean?' they often do not know.
• To help build their self-esteem they need to be told when they are doing something right. Praise and positivity works so much better than telling off and negativity. When they have to be told off, people need to name the behaviour, not the person, for example, 'I don't like it when you hit me' is preferable to saying 'I don't like you for hitting me'.
• School staff should be aware of the difficulties a child with ASD may have during transition times, such as classroom changes, breaks, lunchtimes, entering and leaving, etc. Strategies should be put in place to help the child succeed.
• The person with ASD often benefits from having a 'safe place' to go when they are anxious. At homethis could be a their bedroom or a pop up tent. At school it could be the library or a specified area outside the main classroom.
• Anxieties/Worry Book - for people with ASD who get very anxious it may be worth giving them a 'Worry Book'. This is a book where they can write down their worries/concerns on a daily basis. You can go through these worries with them at a set time each day, so a good time for parents could be before bed or after dinner and for other's it's usually when the person is calm and relaxed. It should be done provately, away from other people.
• At schoopl, Circle Time could be used to explain to the class about a child with ASD and the difficulties they are having so the whole class can come up with ideas to help that child (this would need to be agreed with the parents beforehand). Used properly, Circle Time can be a great asset in helping others in the class udnerstand how people with Asperger Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder fell, and how some things, which would not worry them, will cause great concern to the child with ASD. Managing Circle Time is a very specific skill: do take advice or training before attempting to do this at any depth.
• School Emotional Literacy sessions can benefit children with ASD because theu are for small groups of children who are experiencing similar difficulties, such as friendships, behaviours, social skills or listening skills. Knowing that other children have difficulties in the same areas can help lower anxieties for a child with ASD who often feel they are the only person experiencing such difficulties.
• Some secondary schools set up a 'buddy' system, where two or three classmates have the 'responsibility' of taking it in turns to keep an eye on someone who needs help or support in certain situations. The success of such a strategy very much depends on the child's ages, and making sure that those given this job do not feel they are being asked to do something whoch is going to become an onerous chore. A small group of 'buddies' if perferable to just one: a child woth ASD may react badly if this friend suddenly wants to play elsewhere, or is absent for some reason.
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