I rarely like to give advice to parents of children with disabilities. This is for 2 reasons. First, I barely have a clue what I am doing with my own child. Second, I think that each parent knows their child best. But the past 2 weeks have given me hope. I’ve gotten a little spark in my step. I have some ideas to share with other parents.
Our son has recently transitioned to attending high school. We have been having problems with his adjustment. He has autism and is expressing the related behavior issues. We needed to collaborate with his teachers, therapists, and sitter. Together we came up with a plan that seems to be helping him. Here is how we figured it out.
We watched Jac in all different settings. We noted the differences in his behavior. At school, Jac was struggling to stay on task. He had been throwing himself on the floor to avoid work. But at behavior therapy, he was doing much better. He was able to work. At therapy, he used a sticker chart system. He had to complete his work on time in order to get time on his iPad.
The sticker chart and reward was the clue. Now we are using the same chart and sticker system for school and for home.
As we discovered with our son, you must be proactive. Plan ahead. Have a timeline in mind for their routine. Alert them to upcoming changes. For example, it can be helpful to say, "Five more minutes until we go to the gym."
We now understand the pattern of Jac’s behavior. Now, Jac’s teachers or therapists have a task waiting for him as soon as he comes through the door. This helps prevent him lying on the floor when he comes to the classroom.
The other biggies for us are the 3 R's: repeat, reinforce and reward. By continually working on Jac’s transition as a team, we’ve made things better.
Yes, the 2 settings of school and therapy are very different. But already with just a few minor changes, we are seeing positive outcomes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.