There seems to be so many answers and guidance when your child with an ASD is younger but as they age its scary because the support dwindles away. I read a great article in Autism Digest by Chantal Sicile-Kira about creating Independence and want to share some of my favorite highlights.
The first is self-regulation- this is something that is taught and does not always come easy to a child on the spectrum. Some key points to remember in developing this skill:
1. Tell and explain to them what is going to happen, especially at a new place and in what order this may happen in to keep anxiety at a minimum.
2. Using a transition item for them to hold can help because this acts as something familiar in an unfamiliar place.
3. Writing expectations and rules is key to understanding and referring back to as their minds do not process the same and they can have trouble remembering things.
4. Create stories for them to teach them about different scenarios.
5. Learn and pay attention to when they need breaks and teach them to recognize them so they can utilize this, as they get older.
The second is self-advocacy and this is an individual’s ability to effectively communicate and convey his or her own interests and needs. This becomes important as they age and go on to being independent, making decisions for themselves and being confident in them. Some key points to remember in developing this skill:
1. Help your child recognize their strengths and weaknesses. I think this is the most important thing you can empower your children with and allows them to be confident and secure and also realize when to get help.
2. Teach them to understand their rights and responsibilities.
3. Teach them about potential accommodations they may need to ask for.
4. Teach them to ask for help.
It is never too early to start on any of this and learn from your child as they learn about the world around them.
Dr. Amber Brooks
Whole Child Wellness