Tackling Autism: At Home

Is your family affected by autism?

Are you often rushing your child with autism from school, back home, and then off to therapies that are costing you monumental amounts of money per year? Do you feel inundated with information from school, speech, occupational Therapy, ABA therapy, hippotherapy, doctors, and many others, all giving you advice on what to work on at home? All of this information can send you over the edge – many families affected by autism feel overwhelmed at home, leaving them at times with a sense of hopelessness, wondering “How can I possibly work on all of these things at home and still give my spouse and other children the attention they need?”

First: Make a list of the top five skills you would like to tackle.

It’s a great idea to hold a family meeting and let everyone help out in this process. These skills should be things that would help your child thrive in your home environment. It can be as simple as putting laundry from a hamper into the washing machine or as complex as toilet training. Pick your top five things that you feel are manageable and attainable for your child and family.

Second: Decide how your family will go about tackling each goal.

Decide who will be involved and how they can help out. It’s a great idea to tackle just one goal at a time and give everyone a part in reaching this goal. This approach gets the whole family involved so everyone can feel like they are working together as a team and making a difference. It’s a great idea to display your goals somewhere and note the progress that is happening on each one. A visual display is a great way for the whole family to see how their hard work is making a difference.

Below are some examples of goals for your loved one with autism at home:

  • Staying seated at the dinner table
  • Spending 15 minutes per day on teaching your child to request items
  • Teach your child a dressing skill (i.e., putting on socks)
  • Brushing teeth
  • Allowing hair to be brushed (set aside times to work on this skill when you’re not under a time constraint)
  • Remaining with caregiver while going on a walk
  • Putting silverware from dishwasher to drawer
  • Bringing plate from table to sink after meals
  • Waiting for items (set up specific chances to work on this)
  • Rolling a ball back and forth with sibling
  • Eating a new food
  • Using fork or spoon the right way
  • Drinking from an open cup
  • Preparing a snack

The main idea is that you pick five small, manageable goals that your family focuses on. Once those are mastered, pick five more. Before you know it, your family will be mastering goals and these accomplishments will make a big difference at home!

Shauna Courtney, M.Ed., BCBA – Summit Autism Center

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