Now I’m no saint when it comes to being organised. In fact, I’ve been likened to a headless-chook more often than I’d like! BUT … I have learned that it really pays to be organised and one step ahead when it comes to being a parent of a child on the autism spectrum!
The new year always brings change – whether it’s a new childcare, back-to-school, class, teacher, day centre or another year in employment if your child is now an adult. There are really basic but worthwhile things you can do to support your child and their team to make 2020 more successful!
Preparing for a new year for your child on the autism spectrum
CREATE A VISION STATEMENT AND SET GOALS TOWARDS IT
Set a vision statement for your child for 2020 and ensure it’s REALISTIC! We’d all love to say ‘by the end of 2020, chicken nuggets will not be a nightly dinner staple’ if nuggets have been a nightly staple since they could eat solids! But we might say that by the end of 2020, my child will be more open to trying new foods, and may adopt one or two as regular changes. Setting these small and realistic goals gives you focus, and who knows … your child might actually exceed your expectations!
SHARE YOUR GOALS WITH YOUR SUPPORT TEAM
Communication is key! It’s so important to ensure that everyone on your and your child’s team is on the same page, and on board with working towards meeting these goals. Keep the messages consistent, and openly plan the strategies you might engage with to get there. When everyone is committed and has shared value, the outcomes are so much closer to reach!
CREATE A ONE-PAGE SUMMARY ABOUT YOUR CHILD ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM
Using what you know about your child, create a one-page summary of simple bullet-points that positively describe what your child likes to do, what they don’t like to do, what their behavioural triggers are, what their strengths and interests are, and what strategies you employ to support them through everyday transitions. It’s important to also include information about who’s on their team including teachers, therapists, parents, siblings … anyone who regularly is involved with your child’s everyday life.
WRITE A SOCIAL STORY USING THE SUMMARY TO SHARE WITH THE OTHER CHILDREN IN THEIR LIVES
This is possibly the most valuable thing you will do to prepare for 2020. Communicating with the other children in your child’s life about the things your child likes to do, and the ways they might help him/her when they’re having a tough day means their peers and siblings are going to be more aware, educated, and likely to be more inclusive. It’s a great tool to keep physically printed so that teachers/carers can refer to it when the social dynamic becomes challenging.
Wishing you all a successful and positive 2020!