It can be difficult as a parent or caregiver of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to feel as though you cannot connect with them. Learning more about ASD can help you and your relationship. Don’t forget to stay positive! Children with ASD respond best to positive reinforcement, so be sure to reward good behavior often. While each child will have different needs, here are 5 ways to connect and engage with a child on the spectrum.
Tip 1: Pay attention to your child’s nonverbal cues.
Their expressions, gestures, or sounds can give you an understanding of how your child might be feeling or help you understand their wants and needs.
Tip 2: Have fun!
Play is an important piece of learning. Plan times out during your day to smile, laugh, and interact with your child. They will benefit from unpressured time with you. It’s human to want to “get” something from your child and to sit down with them and start asking questions. If your goal is to connect on a more emotional level, it’s more productive to take time for fun and to just “be.”
Tip 3: Be patient.
Some children with ASD can take a longer time to process information. Be patient and take your time during conversations. Your ability to self-regulate and be in control of your own emotional state will allow you to respond and speak in a more mindful manner.
Tip 4: Be affectionate and respectful.
Sometimes your child may need a hug but prefers to not be touched. Respect their personal space and never force physical affection on an unwilling child.
Tip 5: Learn from your child.
Your child’s needs and abilities may show you a different way to look at the world.
By Allison Casey, BCBA
We hope you can use these tips to build a stronger connection with your child and understand their unique communication style. Learn more about our early intervention services here.