Autism: Leaning into Interests

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Tips & Facts

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often develop special interests in certain objects, topics or activities. When appropriate, embrace and encourage these interests. By doing so, you can help reduce their anxiety, increase social interactions, strengthen language development, and build problem solving skills.

Children with ASD sometimes have difficulty adjusting to changes. Setting simple, consistent routines can help a child feel comfortable and better prepared. Using visual schedules is one way to help children see and understand the sequence of upcoming events. Timers can also be a way to show how much time remains for an activity and can lead to smoother transitions.

Children with ASD may need some help finding ways to manage stressful situations or strong emotions. One way to prepare for these moments and help avoid meltdowns is to establish a break plan with your child. This can involve creating a special area or “safe space” containing comforting or sensory objects and a specific plan for what to do and how long to spend there.

If you have met one child with ASD, you have met one child with ASD. All children are unique and have different strengths and challenges. In order to truly help and encourage a child with autism, get to know them and what makes them unique.

Some children on the autism spectrum have difficulty following multi-step directions. When assigning tasks, use short and simple, descriptive language and/or charts, lists, or images (drawings, photos, etc.) to help children follow the steps.

Encourage children to complete tasks independently when possible. When children can attribute successful outcomes to their own efforts, they are more likely to try to do things without needing help.