Help with Autism.
In this blog post I talk about how we can help a child with autism.
It couldn't have come at a better time for us as a family!
We had a bit of a low day with Bass on Friday. The first low day we've had in a while. He played in a cricket match and it wasn't the best of experiences for him. He didn't bat or bowl very well and some of his team mates got a bit frustrated with his fielding. It was a bit upsetting/heart-breaking to watch if I'm honest and I had a little cry in the car.
I think the hardest thing about it all was how much that experience affected his self-esteem. It made me realise how important this area of Bass's life is. If he has low self-esteem or doesn't feel very good inside than it affects everything on the outside.
Self-esteem is important for any child because it impacts everything. Bass had a party to go to on Sunday afternoon and usually, if he was feeling ok, we would be able to drop him off and then pick him up but this time he wanted one of us to stay with him.
It is a complete myth that autistic children don't feel things. In our experience Bass feels everything! He is acutely aware of his emotions and feelings. He may not be able to express himself or show how he is feeling but he is feeling it.
So we’re in the process of trying to raise him up again and some of the resources I share below are fantastic for doing this so please have a little read. I've included all the links.
Read below my recommendations:
Ways to help your child's social communication:
1 Using Carol Gray's Social Stories
To help Bass’s social communication they suggest we use an approach called social stories or comic strip conversation, which can both help develop social understanding. Look at Carol Gray Social Stories: https://carolgraysocialstories.com/social-stories/what-is-it/
Social stories include information we take for granted that we mistakenly assume that everyone knows. Gray's social stories protect and build self-esteem because 50% of the story highlights personal qualities, achievements and talents and do not contain anything that would give the ‘audience’ anxiety. The stories include all the wh questions: who, what, when, where, why and how and help explain all sorts of things. I showed an example of ‘What is a tragedy?’ in my video this morning.
You can also read more about Social Stories here: https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/communication/communication-tools/social-stories-and-comic-strip-coversations
2 Role Playing
Techniques such as role playing or practising new situations before they occur in reality can help your child's social communication too. Bass has a LAMDA Grade 2 drama exam on Thursday (didn't even know this until this weekend!) and we have been doing exactly this. Bass knocking on the door to come into the ‘exam room’ and pretending I'm the examiner.
Ways to help your child manage transitions
Bass finds managing transitions really difficult. He hates anything out of the blue, not in his routine and he also hates change. This was often most noticeable when we would go and visit my parents in Yorkshire (before we moved here) and the day would arrive to go back home to London and Bass would be in tears. So how can we help?
1 Visual timetables and/or lists
Visual timetables and lists can help your child predict where they are going and what is going to happen and these three websites will help with this:
Orkid Ideas have ‘Tom Tags’, which is an incredible visual tool. You get a button holder and blank buttons and can insert your visual timetable in them. Please have a look here: https://orkidideas.com/how-it-works/
Routine Factory is basically a glorified visual timetable on a screen. It is £9.95 per month and perhaps we will use this for Bass when he is older. Please have a look here: https://routinefactory.com
Brain in Hand is something similar but possibly for older children. Please have a look here:https://braininhand.co.uk
Sensory preferences and emotional regulation
'Energy Accounting': My favourite thing to do with Bass to help his emotional regulation is something the lady, who diagnosed Bass suggested to us, which is ‘Energy Accounting’. It is a tool co-created by Toudal and Attwood and it is the idea of a ‘Social Battery’ to help manage the day to day stress experienced by a person with autism.
Think of your child's energy levels like a rechargeable battery. Energy accounting is a useful framework for making sense of the balance between activities that drain and recharge your child's battery. Please have a look here: https://www.sheffieldchildrens.nhs.uk/download/846/autism-resources/14638/energy-management.pdf
A good starting point is to sit with your child and list all the things that ‘drain’ them and all the things they do that ‘recharges’ them.
Colour Coded Emotional Thermometers: Use colour coded emotional thermometers, which can help them learn about their emotions. Please have a look here: https://www.5pointscale.com
Thank you very much for reading through these resources. I really hope they help your child with their social communication, managing transitions and their sensory preferences and emotional regulation.