What We Know Works: Using Proactive Parenting Strategies to Build Your Family's Skills
Parenting/caregiving can be rewarding, challenging, humbling, and full of joy – sometimes all at the same time!
In this one-hour webinar, participants will learn proactive parenting strategies and how to apply general behavioral principles in their day-to-day activities with their loved ones. Topics include the importance of creating opportunities to have frequent positive interactions with your child, the power of clearly communicating your expectations, behavior and its relationship with consequences, and the positive impact you make by attending to inappropriate behavior calmly and precisely. The content of this session is based upon the book, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” by Dr. Glenn I. Latham.
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What We Know Works: Everyday Strategies
What if you could incorporate intervention strategies into your daily routines to maximize learning opportunities for your child with ASD? In this one-hour webinar, participants will learn more about evidence-based interventions and strategies, be introduced to a framework for how to incorporate these strategies within their everyday routines, and learn how to incorporate an individual’s personal interests and motivation as a basis for learning.
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Every day offers the chance to learn something new. This is true for children as well as adults. Sometimes you will find yourself in the midst of a learning moment simply by being aware it’s happening, and other times it takes a bit of intentional planning. Every day learning opportunities are simply those moments in your day-to-day life that require you to put some thought and action into your day-to-day routines. Examples of everyday activities include getting dressed, traveling to work or school, making a meal, completing household chores, finding ways to self-regulate, participating in meaningful leisure activities, etc. Everyday learning opportunities do not have to be complicated or take a lot of time to be meaningful. Individuals and families can seize every day learning opportunities to practice current skills or learn new skills. Here are a few examples:
• Join your child while he/she is doing their favorite activity - no matter what that might be. Watch your child and comment on what your child is doing. (Avoid asking questions unless you are working on your child better answering questions). As your child tolerates, join them in the activity. Work on taking short turns or modeling a new way of playing with the toy.
• Join your child during snack time. Instead of giving your child the full amount of snack, hold some of it back and wait for your child to indicate that he/she would like more. When your child indicates he/she wants more, prompt your child to communicate in a different way (pointing instead of grabbing, trying to say a single word instead of pointing, or saying a short sentence).
• Take a few extra minutes during a daily routine, such as making lunch or dinner, and involve your child in a way that works for him/her. Work towards expanding your child’s ability towards making a simple meal independently.
• If your child is older, join your child in his/her preferred activity. You can work on expanding their language skills, taking turns, and/or working on dealing with frustration if something doesn’t go right.
Using motivation and interests
Another way to think about creating learning opportunities for you and your child is to consider using your child’s interests, motivations, and strengths to help build learning moments. For example, let’s pretend that your child is really interested in dinosaurs. You can read books with your child and work on skills such sounding out new words, identifying objects in the pictures, or answering comprehension questions (who, what when, where, and why).
Your child may be more likely to engage with you if your child is participating in an activity that your child particularly enjoys. If your child initially prefers to play alone, you can simply watch and observe while making an occasional comment about what your child is doing. As your child becomes more comfortable with you being part of the activity, you can ask questions, model new ways of playing with the toy/activity, and work on other skills based on your child’s current abilities (eg: turn taking, pointing or using words to request, answering questions, tolerating a new way of participating, etc).
Visual supports are a commonly referenced strategy for supporting individuals with ASD. The reason is primarily because individuals with ASD are typically better at processing and remembering information when it is presented visually versus auditorily. This is not unique to autism, many of us in fact may prefer someone write something down or show us a picture versus describing or telling us something. However, for individuals with ASD it is critical to think about how you are supporting what you say with a visual support/reminder.
Visual supports must be individualized based on the person’s age and skill level. For younger children or children with more limited communication skills, you may use photographs to represent the items or activities. Some children/adults are able to use line drawings, and other individuals who can read can use a list or written instruction.
Below are several ways to think about using visual supports for your loved one with ASD.
• Visual schedule to represent the main activities of the day
• Task list as a reminder of activities/tasks to be completed (eg: chore chart, schedule of morning routine)
• Rule reminders
• Behavior support reminders
• Instructions for completing a task
The Indiana Resource Center for Autism provides some helpful tips and examples for visual supports that can be used at home, school, and in the community.
Check back for ongoing updates to this section of our website.
Physical activity is important for all of us, with links to improved overall physical and mental wellbeing. Research has shown that exercise is important for individuals with ASD as well, and can actually help decrease some negative behaviors and increase positive behaviors. For example, research has demonstrated that exercise can lead to decreased challenging behavior, including aggression and self-stimulatory behavior for children with ASD (Cannella-Malone, Tullis, & Kazee, 2011). Exercise can increase positive behaviors, such as improved academic responding (Oriel, George, Peckus,& Semon, 2011) and attention to task.
Finding ways to include physical activity in your day does not have to be complicated. The most important thing is to get started. Start by finding a few times each day that you can build movement/physical activity into your child’s day. Start with something he/she is more likely to enjoy so you and your child are more likely to stick with your new routine. What you do can be as simple as taking a walk to enjoy nature, riding a scooter, or playing ball. For younger children you can even set up a simple obstacle course inside or in the backyard.
Exercise and physical activity can also be an important way to help your child cope with the extra time we are all spending at home and the disruption to our daily routines. Check out the additional resources below to find ways to include physical activity in you and your child’s day.
• The AFIRM module on exercise provides resources and support for setting up an exercise program, along with data sheets, and additional research articles on effectiveness of exercise.
Griffin, W., & AFIRM Team. (2015). Exercise. Chapel Hill, NC: National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder, FPG Child Development Center, University of North Carolina. Retrieved from http://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/exercise
• Autism Speaks – A guest post from Dr. Sean Healy provides information and resources for starting a physical activity program for people with ASD.
• Cosmic Kids website has great videos and resources for kids yoga.
• GoNoodle provides free videos to get kids up and moving through song and dance. https://family.gonoodle.com/
• Click here to get ideas for setting up an indoor obstacle course