For parents of toddlers with autism, navigating daily life can be filled with challenges. You never know when your toddler will be on their best behavior or when they’ll have an uncontrollable meltdown. Though treating autism with an experienced therapist can help you and your child develop tools and strategies that help them when they’re out in society. But sometimes, you just need a little extra help in the moment. Here are a few tips to help you encourage positive behaviors with your toddler.
Give them a Choice
All toddlers like to feel that they have some degree of control over the world around them and children with autism are no different. If you try to push your toddler into doing something, it’s normal for them to react with a tantrum. Instead, encourage positive behavior by offering them a choice. Remember, you get to choose the options, but they get to feel like they’re in control by picking something from those options.
Be Aware of the Surroundings
As a parent, you know your toddler better than anyone else. This means you probably know what upsets them and what they can comfortably handle. When you’re out and about, pay attention to your surroundings and watch how your child is handling them. If they show signs of discomfort, find a quiet place where they can regroup. This will let you avoid a negative experience.
Let them Bring a Comfort Item
Many toddlers with autism do best when they’re allowed to bring a favorite toy, book, stuffed animal, or other items with them in public. Let them. This may not help with treating autism, precisely, but it can give your child something to pay attention to when they’re feeling uncomfortable. When they’re distracted, it’s easier for them to continue positive behaviors rather than dissolving into a tantrum or paying attention to the triggers that cause them to feel uncomfortable in public settings.
Use Rewards…Within Reason
Treating autism doesn’t mean your toddler won’t respond to the same things children without autism do. In fact, using rewards to help promote positive behavior can be effective. Just make sure the rewards are reasonable. If they behave well, let them spend a few extra minutes on their favorite activity. If you’re running errands, encourage them to behave by promising a visit to their favorite park. It’s okay to use your imagination here.
For some kids with autism, verbal communication can be tough and if they don’t understand what you’re asking of them, they’re likely to react. Try using images that help them understand what you want them to do instead of just using words. The better you can communicate with your toddler, the easier it will be to help them grow and thrive.
Treating Autism Means Being Versatile
Get Help from a Therapist
The key to treating autism in young children and toddlers is to be willing to think out of the box. Do what your child needs and partner with an experienced therapist to help them develop the tools and techniques that will help them grow into the person you know they can be.