How to build positive connections with children with autism
I started working with children with autism because I could see their frustration with not being understood by their support workers, educators, and teachers.
My first client with autism was a young man in his 20's who demonstrated aggressive behaviours with meals, daily care activities, and while travelling on the bus. When I went to see his home for a behavioural assessment I saw 4 very blank walls, his mattress was on the floor, his window was taped shut with a piece of cardboard blocking the sunlight, and there was not one single book or toy in his room.
Understandably (to a point) his support workers had taken away all of the objects in his room because he would throw objects at his support workers while they were dressing him. However, no one thought to replace his room with soft toys, or soft furnishings that would make him feel calm and safe in his bedroom.
It amazed me how often workers were so anxious and scared of the behaviour, that they hadn't been given the support or resources to build positive connections with the individuals that they were working with.
From this point on I was determined to ask workers and leadership teams the hard questions:
- What daily activities do you have in place to bring a good quality of life to this person with autism?
- How are you managing behaviours of concern positively?
- What selfcare are you providing to your team?
- How are you bringing calm and a sense of security to your client's day every single day?
How to build positive connections with children with autism:
- Understand who they are, what they like, what motivates them, and what worries them
- Create one positive connection per day. Even if it is just for 5 minutes per day - read a story, sing a song, create a special hand shake, water the garden together, say one thing that you're both grateful for.
- Provide consistency and predictability in your day to reduce both of your anxiety. When we don't know what to do we feel anxious, so always have your day planned out so that you have an action plan for when things go away from the normal routine.
- Share your interests and worries with your children. We feel more connected to people who we can relate to. So be relatable.
Want to learn more?
Enrol in my online supporting children with autism course