One “Magical” Secret and Quick Tips you can Implement TODAY to Increase Communication with your Child with Autism and Have FUN While Doing It!
Parents of children with autism are one of the most enduring groups of people on the planet. Their resilience is inspiring and their daily grind is unmatched compared to most parents raising typically developing kids. One of the areas that can make parenting a kiddo with autism all the more challenging, is their inability to effectively communicate their needs and desires. This post highlights quick tips and strategies to help increase communication and success for both parents and their amazing kids!
Increasing communication all starts with sabotage! You read that right, I did say sabotage. Now before you click away, hear me out. What I mean by sabotage, is that we can evoke a lot of language by simply disrupting our routines and daily lives purposefully and intentionally. Doing so sounds like a bad idea when we’ve already established that parenting is hard, but I can promise that it’s worth the disruption given the enjoyment that sabotage can produce. Here’s 3 areas of your daily life that you can sabotage to evoke more language by providing more opportunities to communicate.
Sabotage your normal routines, specifically at mealtime, when you’re in the car each day, when you’re playing together, and at night. There you go, we’ve basically just said that you should sabotage your whole day, but trust me on this.
Mealtime - Can you imagine how fun and exciting it would be if you gave your toddler his cereal without milk? That would be laughable for sure, I know because I’ve done it. Or what happens if you give them their milk and then you give them a fork? Laughter probably, and then more importantly, an opportunity for your amazing kid to say “Dad, I need a spoon!” or any other approximation of that, whether signs or sounds or pictures. We recognize that every child is beautifully made and different, so you might be working a little differently on this. Disclaimer, this is a fun blog post about increasing communication, but it could never replace an individualized ABA program. I think we all get that! Last disclaimer - pick wisely which routines you choose to sabotage. Maybe choose not to withhold a spoon when your toddler is super hungry and cranky. Just a pro tip from the dad of 5 :)
Car Rides - When I’m in the car with my kids, I sing. Sometimes I sing songs the wrong way. Apparent the wheels on the cow is wrong, but it’s actually the wheels on the bus. Know what? It’s fun and silly and gives me the opportunity to be more present with my kids, even in the swagger wagon. Communication is a beautiful interaction, no matter how simple or complex it is. Sing songs and let your child fill in the blanks. For example, “Old MacDonald had a __________” What did he have? A FARM! Let your child fill in those blanks. Also, before you even hit the road, have your child ask for help with their buckles (I’d personally never do this because my kids still tantrum just getting into the minivan, but this is for the braver parents, those that are much more confident and skilled than I! Does your child like water or snacks in the car? Make them ask for it, but do drive safely (obvi). Again, I’d never do this because then my car would look like a Chick Fil A rubbish can and wouldn’t be able to accomodate my gaggle of kids! The list can go on and on and on. The point is, have fun and evoke communication where you have the opportunity. Are you starting to see now how brilliant sabotage can be? I hope so.
Playtime - Can we play Hi Ho! Cherry-O without the cherries? I think not. What if you move 5 spaces instead of 4 while playing Candy Land? Would your child notice and say something? Or how about if you’re blowing bubbles and you choose not to blow? Or if you gave your child their most favorite toy, locked tightly in a mason jar? Or what about wind up toys, those are neat? Or what if you use a shark puppet to play “chase the little fishy” around the house, and you just stop? Would your sweet toddler say “come find me!” As you can see, playtime can be filled with fun and exciting opportunities to evoke language, depending upon where your kiddo is at developmentally. Seize the moments - they’re already happening, now you’re just making the most of them.
Bedtime - Parents, now you should TOTES sabotage bedtime. I know you’re exhausted, but you’re almost there. I’ll tell you what. Sabotage bedtime and then get yourself your most preferred beverage. I like Topo Chico but everyone’s different. Here we go. Can you imagine the look on your child’s face when you put them in a bath without water? Pretty LOL right? Or if you put a sombrero on their head instead of Johnson and Johnson? Yeah, LOL again. Or what if you read their bedtime book upside down? Or what if lovely was up high? Or what if the door to their bedroom was closed? The “what ifs” are infinite, and so are the opportunities to have fun, be present, and evoke more and more and more communication.
I hope you’ve seen how sabotage is your friend. Disruption works y’all, I know because I’ve seen it as a parent and clinician. I’ve only ever worked with kids with autism. It’s all I know. I’ve seen parents hustle and try new things, and it works. I hope you have an amazing time sabotaging your routines, and as always, let us know how we could be serving you!
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