It’s back to school time again, which can be a challenging transition for any family, but much more so for those with an autistic child in the family. With that in mind, we wanted to share some of insights from the team at MindNest Health as we ready our children to return to the classroom.
Those of you who follow NNF may remember that MindNest is a digital health platform that came out of the Yale Child Study Center, an internationally recognized center for the treatment of autistic children. The goal of the platform is to make the counsel of the Yale Child Study Center available to all parents of an autistic child, no matter where they live. Here are their “top tips” for back-to-school:
- Focus on wellness for your family and don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Good sleep hygiene, good nutrition and physical activity are so important and form the foundation for more productive and less stressful days. If your child is hungry, tired or overstimulated, it sets the stage for behavioral issues (for parents, too!)
- Recognize that behavior is a form of communication. When children are stressed or anxious or depressed, and cannot articulate what is bothering them, it can come out as disruptive behavior or anger outbursts or tantrums, so it’s important to try to understand what your child is communicating. Is your child trying to continue something they want to do, or maybe they are trying to avoid an activity that makes them feel overstimulated or anxious? This behavior may also be linked to trying to get attention. If parents can take a step back and try to understand what underlying issues those disruptive behaviors are communicating, it can help them to decide how to manage the situation.
- Focus on the positive. When your child exhibits a behavior that is positive, don’t forget to praise and reward them, with the goal of reinforcing those positive behaviors; over time, hopefully they will eclipse the negative behaviors.
- Once you learn a new skill to help manage your child, practice, practice, practice!
- This one is VERY important – there’s no such thing as perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Celebrate your successes, and learn from your challenges. That’s all any of us can ask of ourselves!
What do you think, NJAD friends? Please share your learnings with us, too! We can all learn from each other as we move forward together on our journey!
All the best, Brian