Leaving the house with a child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder can be difficult, but we promise, it is worth the countless learning opportunities these outings provide. New places and people are excellent ways to ensure your child is generalizing all of the amazing new skills you are teaching him from making eye contact to asking another child to join him in play.
Things to note:
- Stand in front of your child when he or she is swinging. This way they can associate you with the fun sensation of being pushed back and forth!
- Work on language and social skills while simultaneously performing gross motor activities. This builds critical connections between different regions of the brain.
- Encourage your child to play with many different items at the park. Make sure you prompt him to move on if his play becomes repetitive in nature (ex: going up the same ladder and down the same slide over and over).
While at the park:
1. Get in your child’s attention spotlight as often as possible (face-to-face within 3-4 feet)
2. Have fun (goofy faces, sing songs, big smiles, play movement games).
3. Imitate his vocalizations and actions. Trust us children love to see that you are interested in what they are doing. Initially you may need to be careful to bring two of certain items such as balls, toy trucks, etc. Some children will shut down if they feel like you are taking their toy.
4. Follow the ONE-UP RULE. If your child is nonverbal label items and actions with one word (e.g. “push,” “swing”) If he is reliably using one word to make requests and communicate table items and actions with two words (“go fast” “kick ball”).
These strategies can increase engagement between you and your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We hope you have found them useful.
Feel free to comment with any additional strategies below!