15 JULY 2019
by Petra Ecclestone
You may find yourself asking “should I force my child to be social, or let them keep to themselves?” As we know, when it comes to raising children on the spectrum, there isn’t one simple answer. What works for one child may not work for another. Some autistic children, especially girls,, can force themselves to fit in by copying the behaviour of their classmates. But this can be stressful and exhausting. However, it’s always a good idea to try things with your child to see how they react and cope.
So we’ve come up with these 4 ideas for encouraging your child to socialise in a comfortable and controlled way.
A play date is a simple arrangement: children play together at home, while the parents catch up over a cup of tea and slice of cake. But it can have its challenges. Some autistic children might find it overwhelming and want to leave, especially if there’s more than one child involved.
Here’s some ideas to try and make play dates more comfortable for your child:
It’s well-known that many autistic children respond well to a routine. So introducing a weekly play date into your child’s week might help them get used to it. If you can keep all elements of the ‘date’ consistent, then your child will begin to expect them and hopefully begin to look forward to them. Obviously, it’s not always easy to keep things consistent where children are concerned! Another way to help your child get used to these ‘dates’ is to tell stories which explain why it’s nice to do activities with a friend and why having a friend can be fun.
Birthday parties can be difficult for children with autism. Especially if they don’t know things like who will be there, what food will be served and what games will be played. So here are some tips for planning ahead to help you all deal with birthday parties:
Unfortunately, even with the best planning, sometimes introducing your child to a new social situation just won’t work. But you know your own child best, and if you feel they’re becoming stressed or anxious, you should remove them from the situation. You can always try again another day but pushing for results is not the answer.
Autistic children can lead just as full a life as anyone else. But remember, sometimes it means doing things a little differently. And that’s ok.
Petra Ecclestone is a Philanthropist and mother of three. She is founder and Director of the Petra Ecclestone Foundation, providing services and support for young children with suspected or diagnosed autism and their families.
Copyright © 2021 The Brightest Star. Content curated by Petra Ecclestone