Children who are on the autism spectrum need more support at home than kids who are not on the spectrum. Regardless of their age, kids, including teenagers, need extensive support to thrive.
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Kids with autism feel safer when things are familiar
Kids on the autism spectrum tend to feel safer when they are in a familiar environment. Since kids spend most of their time at home and at school, these are the two most important environments for them. However, parents can’t control the school environment, which makes it even more important for them to create a safe environment at home. The home environment could be the only place their child can feel safe.
This is one of the reasons people get in-home therapy as opposed to taking their child to see a therapist somewhere else. Therapy organizations know this is important, so many of them offer this service. For example, you can get Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy at home and have a qualified therapist come to your house to work with your child. Being in their own comfortable, familiar environment makes kids more receptive to therapy.
On the other hand, when kids have to go somewhere unfamiliar to see a therapist, it can take time just to adjust to the new environment, which makes the therapy take longer and may not be as effective.
Daily life can be a massive struggle
When you’re not on the spectrum, it can be hard to understand why basic things are so difficult for kids with autism. For example, some kids can’t do their chores unless they do them in a specific order. Some kids struggle to get into the habit of taking showers because they feel like it’s a waste of time, while others literally feel awful when the water hits their skin.
Every child faces a different set of challenges, and parental support goes a long way in easing those challenges. For instance, if a child has a massive fear of being in the dark, parental support might look like installing nightlights in every room so their child feels safe, even if that child is a teenager.
Often, parents will need to support their kids in ways that might not make sense to them, but that support will be essential for their child’s wellbeing. For instance, some kids might want to wear gloves while doing the dishes to avoid contact with water. Other kids might need to have their food separated on their plate so the foods don’t mix.
Even getting dressed in the morning can be a challenge. For instance, some kids don’t want to wear the clothes their parents want them to wear. Some kids want to wear the same t-shirt every day. This can be a big deal for a child on the autism spectrum. Forcing a child on the spectrum to wear clothes they don’t like can be a major source of stress for the child.
One thing parents can do to support their child is buy them multiples of the same t-shirt. Some kids just like how a shirt feels when it’s been worn for a while, but others get attached to certain designs. If a child is attached to the design, there’s no harm in buying them five identical t-shirts.
Parents can even let their child’s teacher know to expect their child to arrive dressed in the same shirt for the whole week so they don’t think the child is being neglected and forced to wear dirty clothes.
Having a routine is how kids on the spectrum survive
Parents can support their kids on the spectrum by helping them get into a routine that meets their needs. Most kids on the spectrum rely on routines to survive, and when one thing changes, it can derail their entire day.
Life isn’t always predictable, so routines will be unavoidably disrupted from time to time. However, parents who support their child by honoring their routine can be a life raft for a child on the spectrum. For instance, a child might need to start their day by doing things in a different order than their parents would do them. Supporting a routine that differs from the rest of the family is important for kids on the spectrum.
It’s equally important for parents to do their best to prioritize their child’s routines. Rather than seeing their routine as frivolous and adjustable, when parents stay committed to maintaining their routine, they’re supporting their child’s wellbeing.
Kids on the spectrum need extensive support at home
Kids with autism need as much support as they can get. They won’t always get a high level of support at school, which means the best source of support will come from home. If kids with autism are going to thrive, that’s only possible when parents take an active role in supporting their kids.