Nonverbal Ways to Connect with Your Child with Autism

 

When a child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, parents can often be overwhelmed. This diagnosis can be frightening, because you may not be sure how to help your child cope with this lifelong condition. Fortunately, there are many different treatment options available to help both you and your child face the challenges that ASD can bring, so that you can help your child learn, grow, and thrive. One of the challenges you’ll face is in connecting with your child with ASD, but with some practice, you’ll learn how to communicate effectively, often without saying a word.

  • Pay attention to your child’s nonverbal cues. By noticing his or her facial expressions, gestures, and sounds, you’ll gain an understanding of when your child is tired, hungry, or wants something. The important thing for you, as a parent, is to be observant and aware.
  • Look for the motivation behind the behavior. When people are misunderstood or ignored, they feel upset. Children with ASD are no different, and they may throw tantrums as a way to communicate their frustration and get your attention when their nonverbal signals are being ignored.
  • Have fun with your child. When your child has ASD, your schedule can become full of therapeutic activities, and lacking in downtime and fun. Remember, your child with special needs is still a child, and play is an important part of every child’s learning experience. Plan playtime when your child is most alert and awake, and find ways to make your child smile, laugh, and interact. Even if you’re not doing something educational or therapeutic, your child will reap the benefits of unpressured time with you. You’ll benefit as well, from the enjoyment of your child’s company.
  • Be aware of sensory sensitivities. Often, children with ASD are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli: light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. On the other hand, some children with ASD are under-sensitive to those same things. Pay attention to your child’s reactions to sights, sounds, smells, movements, and sensations, and you’ll learn a lot about what triggers a negative or positive response. When you learn what your child finds stressful or uncomfortable, as well as what he or she finds calming and enjoyable, you’ll find it easier to create successful experiences and prevent difficult situations.

 

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