How to Inspire Change in Your Child with Autism

“Do you want your child on the autism spectrum to connect with you?

“Do you long for your child to be able to communicate/have meaningful conversations with you?

“Do you hope your child will make friends and experience cherished relationships?

“The great news is, your child can learn all these skills, even if they are not at that point of development yet… Inspiring your child to make meaningful changes is absolutely within your reach! One incredibly useful way to do this is to be a living example of what you want to teach your child.

“Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’

“Now let’s apply this quote to helping your child with autism:

“You can say: ‘I will be the change I wish to see in my child.’

“Here are three ways to be the change you wish to see in your child:

“You want more connection with your child.
“Take some time to dive into your child’s world and see it as a wonderful and meaningful place to be. Even though at times, you might feel exhausted, decide to tune in to your child’s interests and body language. This builds connection. If your son loves racecars, take some time to get to know those racecars, what they look like, and how they move, try getting down on the floor and zooming them around the room with your child. If your daughter loves drawing Nemo, grab a piece of paper and draw Nemo alongside her. Doing this with delight and sincerity will forge a connection with your child. You will be a living example of how your child can connect with someone.

“You are modeling what you want to see in your child by doing this.

“You long for your child to be able to communicate.
“Listen carefully to any speech-like sounds your child is making, this could be their attempt at communicating! Celebrate them: ‘Hey, that was an awesome sound, thank you!’ Respond quickly to their babbling sounds; for example, if they say ‘duh’, run and get a toy dog for them.

“If your highly verbal child is asking repetitious questions, listen attentively and fill yourself with gratitude that they are sharing with you. Answer their questions as many times as they want you to. This will let your child know that their language matters and you are someone they can feel comfortable sharing with. Genuinely doing this and really listening and fully answering, helps your child relax and be heard. This can lead to more interactive language in the future.

“You are inspiring your child to want to use more communication with other people, and see the value in their words (and ultimately, other people’s words too).

“You hope your child will be able to make friends and maintain relationships.
“Be loving and appreciative of your own family around your child. Celebrate your spouse/partner for something you love about them. Turn off the TV, put your phone away for a couple of hours and do something fun together as a family. Even if your child on the autism spectrum does not join you, that’s ok! You can have fun being beside your child. Sincerely enjoying being in each other’s company and expressing gratitude is a beautiful demonstration of how relationships work.

“You are teaching your child how beautiful relationships are.

“Doesn’t that sound like a little slice of heaven?

“Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’

“You can say: ‘I will be the change I wish to see in my child.’

Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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