As a Mom of a four yr old boy with autism, I say 'bravo' for what you are taking on. Autistics are challenging, but the rewards humble you. What mainstream children and the parents of mainstream children take for granted is what we parents of autistic children would throw a victory party for. i.e., potty training, saying whole sentences, or even speaking! My son is on the higher end of the spectrum. He is not quite aspergers, but close, I'd say. I would say that repeating motions, structure, etc are essential. I cannot speak for all autistics, but with my son, approach with a slow but direct walk. The moment you reach him, get down to his level. Talk gently, slowly, and clearly to him. Smile all the time, and be ready to clap and say 'YAYYYYY' (I say 'VERY Good!' when he accomplishes a task.)
There are several good links on AOL for parents, loved ones and caretakers of autistics. Please E-mail me at KLS8800 at (use the symbol) AOL dot com. No spaces. Put autism in the subject line so I do not delete unknown addys and I'll be glad to send you the links.
My son has Aspergers. The best advice I can give you is that you have to explain everything, tell the child why you are doing what you are doing. They desire reasons. They work best with a rewards system. ABA is a great way to do this. (Applied Behavior analysis ) Heres a great link to explain this.
Social skills are a serious problem and so are Hygiene issues. Pottytrianing could take several attemps before you see results.
You will have much joy working with this child, you are very fortunate. Autistic children are so brite and so truthful. They make you laugh and cry all at the same time. You will see the world in a much different light. Good luck.
All good ideas I've seen posted- and I'd like to add- don't forget the teacher! She may have some experience for you to draw on. Also, some school districts have specialists who have ideas etc. I have worked with autistic children in a school setting for 8 years- and as one lady said When you've met one autistic child, you've met one autistic child!" Take time to get to know the child, find out his likes and dislikes, use rewards, be calm (even when you aren't) and talk to anyone who already knows the child. Good luck- I start again on Tuesday with 2 autistic 11 year old boys. And I can't wait!
I recommend the book, "Elijah's Cup," by Valerie Paradiz. I found it at the library in the biography section. It reads like a novel and tells one child's story starting from age two when he was diagnosed with autism, as well as some history of the disorder. Good luck!
As the mother of a three year old son with autism, my best advice is to read as much as you can ( and there is tons of information out there!). There is such a spectrum of characteristics, abilities and weaknesses that, as they say, if you have met one autistic child, you have met one autistic child. Our children are delightful people to get to know, and you must celebrate each step and milestone. They do offer challanges, but with education, patience and perseverence you can direct them to more appropriate behaviors. Enjoy this child and rest up before you start! Consistancy and calm atmospheres are pretty important to these kiddos. Good Luck!! And thank you for taking on this challenging but important job.
Many people with autism need structure. It would be good to set up a schedule to go by when you are working with him. Many people with autism are very visual, so it is best to use picture that show the activity you will be doing, i.e.- a picture of some one eating when it is time to eat.
I have used the computer program "Boardmaker" which has pictures of many things, these pictures are called PECS. I worked in a school that used a stip of tag board and with velcro on it then on the back of the pictures we put the other side of the velco and used this as a schedule.
Often verbal communication can be hard to process, so it is good to point at what you are talking about. You could also work with simple signs. Find out if his parents are trying to impliment any of these things and try and be consistent with that, if not maybe you can be the one to bring the structure into the family.
Some of my favorite people in the world have autism, be open and find their talents, and have fun!
Try to maintain a consistent routine. Offer choices, not demands, e.g. Do you want to sit in this chair or this chair? Also, give lots of opportunities for motor activity to counteract stress, e.g., swinging, rocking, etc. Picture cues are excellent for giving anticipation of the next activity, also for communication. Remember, when you ask him to make a choice by pointing to pictures, use the pictures yourself as you communicate. Picture communication is a language in itself, and if we expect a child to use it to communicate, we must demonstrate and use it ourself when communicating with them (Also pair it with the verbal lable.) Bless you for doing this! Consider each challenge an opportunity to learn and make a difference, not a problem!!!!
And "Never Assume (he) can't!!!!"
Get some books from the library about autism. There are lots. They explain some of the needs, perceptions, behaviors and strategies that are used working with individuals with autism. Each person is different, you will need to flexible and creative!
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