top of page
Autism Therapy

Top 10 Tips for Supporting Children with Autism 

A Quick Reference Guide for Caregivers and Teachers

By: Dolly Tampos Oksman, MA, MAED-SPED, CAS

Love. Heal. Believe: Autism Caregivers and Teachers Wellness Sanctuary

ABOUT DOLLY TAMPOS OKSMAN, MA, MAED-SPED, CAS

 

Dolly Tampos Oksman is a certified autism specialist, special education teacher, certified wellness coach, behavior analyst, transformational speaker, and author. She is the Founder and Owner of Love. Heal. Believe. LLC and Autism Wellness Sanctuary.

 

Dolly's personal journey is a testament to her expertise. She once grappled with chronic stress and low self-esteem, which took a toll on her mental and emotional health. However, her life took a transformative turn when she entered the convent to become a missionary nun. There, she discovered the secrets to living a fulfilled life brimming with inner peace and joy. This journey fuels her passion to share these secrets with others. She shares her journey and secrets in her book, Finding Your Lost Self: Your 30-Day Journey to Self-Love. 

 

As a special education teacher, Dolly's passion for wellness is palpable. She is deeply committed to the well-being of teachers and caregivers of children with disabilities. She firmly believes that these children, with their unique challenges, deserve the utmost care, patience, and love from the adults around them. However, she also understands that the demanding nature of their roles can often lead to stress. This is why she is dedicated to sharing the secrets she learned in the convent, to help these busy individuals overcome their stress from the root cause and manage it as easily as ABC, 123.

 

Dolly is an expert in self-coaching, eliminating stress from the root, and quickly transforming undesirable emotions into positive ones. Please visit lovehealbelieve.com to learn more about how Dolly can help you. You can also Contact Dolly here or email her at dollyoksman@lovehealbelieve.com

Legal Disclaimer and Terms Of Use

The information and the resources available for download through this website are for educational and informational purposes only. ​ A purchaser may photocopy pages for personal use. You do not have resell rights or giveaway rights to any portion of this Publication. Only customers that have purchased this publication are authorized to view it. This publication contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. No part of this publication may be transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the author. Violations of this copyright will be enforced to the full extent of the law.

 

Not Medical, Health or Professional Advice

The information contained on this Website and the resources available for download through this website is not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, professional advice. While the employees and/or owners of the Company are professionals and the information provided on this Website relates to issues within the Company’s area of professionalism, the information contained on this Website is not a substitute for advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.

 

We have done our best to ensure that the information provided on this Website and the resources available for download are accurate and provide valuable information. Regardless of anything to the contrary, nothing available on or through this Website should be understood as a recommendation that you should not consult with a professional to address your particular information. The Company expressly recommends that you seek advice from a professional.

 

Neither the Company nor any of its employees or owners shall be held liable or responsible for any errors or omissions on this website or for any damage you may suffer as a result of failing to seek competent advice from a professional who is familiar with your situation.
 

Introduction

 

As a special education teacher for autistic children and children with autism characteristics, I understand the unique challenges that caregivers and educators face in their daily lives. Your role in teaching and caring for children with autism is not just crucial, it's irreplaceable. 

 

Due to their unique challenges and giftedness, children with autism may need more care, patience, understanding, and attention. As caregivers and teachers, you are the guiding light in their lives, supporting their development and helping them thrive in their everyday lives and explore their full potential.

 

This quick reference guide provides you with ten essential tips that are easy to implement and designed to significantly impact not just your children or students but also your entire family and community. Whether new to working with autistic children or looking for fresh ideas to enhance your current practices, these strategies will equip you with practical tools, techniques, and insights to foster a supportive, caring, and nurturing environment. Let's embark on this journey together to empower yourself and the children in your care to unleash and reach their full potential.









Top 10 Tips for Supporting Autistic Children

 

 

 

 

1.  Prioritize Self-Care

 

First and foremost, taking care of yourself needs to be your first priority. Caring for and teaching autistic children is rewarding and fulfilling. Still, as mentioned, it comes with different challenges and may require much of your energy, time, and emotional resources. You must constantly recharge your Love Battery, the source of your energy that will inspire and motivate you to joyfully give love and care to others so you can continue to provide care with compassion, understanding, patience, calm, and joy.

 

Learn more about your Love Battery, the signs of an empty Love Battery, and how to effectively charge it in our book Finding Your Lost Self: Your 30-Day Journey to Self-Love.

 

Remember, your health and well-being are not just important, they're essential. Take breaks, engage in activities you love, such as reading, painting, or gardening, and seek support when needed. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is not a luxury; it's a necessity.

 

Engaging in hobbies, healthy eating, exercise, and relaxation activities such as mindfulness exercises, prayer, and meditation can help you recharge and stay resilient in your caregiving role. Your well-being is not just beneficial; it's crucial for providing consistent and compassionate support.

2. Establish a Routine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children with autism can quickly become anxious when they don't know what to expect. However, with the strategies outlined in this guide, you can provide them with the consistency and predictability they need to feel secure. Create a daily schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Include wake-up times, meals, playtime, school time, learning activities, and bedtime to provide a structured environment. At school, teachers can also create the child's routine.  

 

Visual schedules can be particularly helpful in reinforcing this routine. Including your child in creating their schedule is also beneficial so you can have their input.  Life can sometimes be unpredictable; hence, it is necessary to break their routine. However, when you do this, please be sure you will prepare them by informing them beforehand and including the activity change in their visual schedule. For example, with my students, when we have scheduled a field trip, one week before the field trip, I have a social story to tell the students that changes are coming, what it is, where it is,  what we will do, what they will see, the expectations, and others.

 

I also included a countdown; I will show them our calendar and count down the days we will have field trips. So they will see it, hear it often, and let them feel excited about the activities. Then, on the day of the field trip, a field trip picture is scheduled on their visual schedule.

3. Use Visual Supports

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autistic individuals usually think in pictures. They can understand more abstract concepts if they see a visual representation. When you instruct a child with autism with just words, especially when you're verbose, or you talk too much, it will take time for them to process your words. They will not understand you right away, and it might cause them confusion and anxiety, resulting in behavior problems. 

 

Visual aids like picture schedules, charts,  visual task analysis, and symbols can significantly improve understanding and communication for autistic children. Incorporate these into daily activities to help them grasp concepts, follow instructions, and transition between tasks more smoothly. Visual support can also assist in teaching new skills and routines.


 

4.  Simplify Communication

 

 

 

Use clear, concise language, give one instruction at a time, and emphasize visual support as much as possible. Visual aids are crucial for individuals with autism, especially children, who may struggle to process body language and words. So, allow extra time for processing and responding.

 

Nonverbal communication methods such as gestures, sign language, picture exchange (a form of augmentative and alternative communication that uses pictures to communicate), and communication devices (electronic devices that can be used to facilitate communication, such as tablets with communication apps or dedicated communication devices) can also be beneficial. Repeating instructions and using simple, consistent phrases help reinforce understanding.

 

5.  Create a Sensory-Friendly Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the main characteristics of people with autism is their level of sensory sensitivity, such as being over or under-sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, textures, or tastes.  In creating a sensory-friendly environment, which refers to an environment that is designed to be comfortable and safe for individuals with sensory sensitivities, it's crucial to identify triggers such as loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures that may cause discomfort or stress.

 

Provide tools like noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, or weighted blankets to help manage these sensory sensitivities. But equally important is to ensure the environment is calm, organized, and free from overwhelming stimuli.

 

6.  Implement Positive Reinforcement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conduct a preference assessment or pay attention to the interest of your child. Most if not all, autistic children have special interests. This interest in something can be intense. You can utilize these as a reward or incentive. I met caregivers and teachers who said their reward systems don’t work. They still experience problem behavior.  One of the possible reasons could be that their incentive is of no value to the child.  

Providing positive reinforcement also requires the right timing. When a child is having a tantrum or meltdown because they want something and you give it to the child while acting out for them to stop crying or screaming, you reinforce the behavior. The next time, they will most likely act out again to get what they want. Provide valuable positive reinforcement to your child or student when they do what is expected or show appropriate behavior. 

 

Focus on encouraging desired behaviors rather than punishing inappropriate ones. Also, provide more specific praise (i.e., great job for turning in your assignment or fixing your bed) rather than general praise (i.e., great job). Consistent positive reinforcement, a powerful tool, helps build self-esteem and motivates children to engage in appropriate behaviors.

 

7. Teach Social Skills

 

 

 

One of the most significant challenges for autistic children is their social skills. As caregivers and teachers, we must explicitly teach them social skills to improve their social-emotional development. Among the proven strategies for teaching social skills are social stories, role-playing, and modeling to teach appropriate social interactions. Encourage your children to participate in group activities, peer play, and community events to build social confidence. Providing various opportunities for your child or students to practice these skills can help children generalize them to different social situations.

 

8. Break Tasks into Steps

 

 

 

 

 

For autistic children, processing complex tasks and multi-step instructions can be challenging. However, by breaking these tasks into smaller, manageable steps, you can increase their participation and attention, while also reducing anxiety, behavior challenges, and frustrations. Incorporating checklists, visual aids, or sequence cards can further assist children in following through and succeeding. This approach can make tasks less overwhelming and more achievable, promoting a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.

 

Understanding and implementing this strategy can give caregivers and teachers confidence in supporting the child's learning process.


 

9. Provide Choices

 

 

Empower your children or students with autism by offering them choices. This simple act can significantly impact their sense of control and reduce resistance.  When you provide options that are acceptable to you and the child, such as selecting between two or three activities, toys, or school tasks, you enable them to make decisions and express preferences. This, in turn, fosters their independence and self-confidence.

 

10. Be Patient and learn to handle your emotions

 

 

 

I heard people say that autistic children struggle to read the emotions of others. However, in my experience, they are very sensitive to how you feel.  Children with autism respond to your emotional vibration. Hence, patience and handling emotions are crucial when supporting autistic children. Therefore, as teachers and caregivers. It would help if you learned different stress reduction strategies so you can keep yourself calm and patient when your autistic child or student shows undesirable behavior.

 

Understand that progress may be slow, and setbacks are a natural part of development. Celebrate small achievements and remain calm and positive during challenging moments. Your patience and understanding can create a supportive and nurturing environment.

 

Bonus tip:

Keep in touch with your God and inner guidance. Spending time in silence to pray, meditate, and listen to your inner guidance will help you gain clarity on your next steps. It will also give you hope and strength, knowing that someone higher than you is watching and paying attention to your needs and is giving you strength in navigating the challenges you face every day. 

 

Conclusion:

Supporting children with autism requires dedication, patience, and the right strategies. By implementing these ten essential tips, you are taking the necessary steps to create a more supportive and effective environment for the children in your care. Remember, your efforts make a significant difference in their lives, fostering growth, development, and confidence. Continue seeking resources, staying informed, and connecting with other caregivers and educators for additional support. 

 

Thank you for your commitment to helping children with autism thrive. Together, we can create a brighter future for them.

 

When you need more help and support to prevent burnout, reduce unnecessary stress, and create a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family, please don't hesitate to contact us. 

 

For more in-depth strategies and resources, visit our website: lovehealbelieve.com and Autism Wellness Sanctuary.

 

I eagerly await your response and look forward to being a part of your journey! 

4DB4F2B0-4C50-4499-9D65-1A915C3FBA57_1_105_c_edited.jpg
bottom of page