Does your child struggle in the morning getting ready for the day or in the evening preparing to go to bed? Do they have difficulty with daily self-care activities such as getting dressed, showering, or brushing their teeth? Is running errands with your child a source of stress? Do you wish that your child could be a more active participant in family activities or complete their chores without constant reminders? Do you want to help prepare them with more life skills such as learning to make their own lunch or do their own laundry?
Oftentimes, when parents are looking for help with their autistic children in these areas, professionals and various strategies focus on the child’s need to learn new skills. Yet, while learning skills is also important, we tend to focus less on the skills WE need to learn and the ways in which we can make our teaching and our environments more accessible to the person with autism. If your child is struggling with meeting certain expectations at home or within your family, it may be a problem of the expectations not matching your child’s natural strengths or accommodating their inherent needs.
Research shows us that autistic individuals struggle with executive functioning skills, sensory processing differences, verbal communication, and processing certain types of information. However, research also shows us what autistic people’s strengths are: following patterns, processing visual information, deep diving into interests, attention to detail, and much more.
We also know there are an array of evidence-based practices that help shape the environment to be more attuned to the way a child with autism processes the world around them.
Some of those evidence-based methods include:
Imagine if you lived in an environment that was completely out-of-sync with the way you processed the world. People presented you with information in a format you didn’t understand, didn’t notice certain sensations all around you that caused you pain, or expected you to do things without the right support that you needed to accomplish those tasks.
We build ramps for people who use wheelchairs, we use closed-captions for individuals who are deaf, and we provide Braille for people who are blind. These are all ways in which we change the environment, not the individual. This element is no less salient for autistic people, who need cognitive-based environmental modifications as an essential aspect of their support.
Support starts at home and it starts with having an accessible home for your child. A home that is sensory-friendly, that provides the right kinds of visual support, that understands your child’s cognitive style and executive functioning needs, and honors all forms of communication.
The distinct lack of services that provide this kind of support for families in an individualized manner is why I started Spectrumize. I want to help you make the best home for your child from the ground up, along the way solving problems that are often unwittingly caused by an inaccessible environment.
I assure each parent I meet that the reason behind challenging behaviors is not “something is wrong with your child” but rather “something is wrong with your child’s environment”. Once the problems in the environment are removed, children will thrive.