Focus On Community
Children with autism, especially those who dislike social interaction, often tend to try to seclude themselves. As a result, their parents may find it easier not to involve them in any public events. However, interaction with the community is a vital part of every child’s growth, including those with autism. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there is one in 45 adults living with ASD. Autism was not tracked until about 20 years ago and, as a result, many adults are facing difficulties unique to autism because no one knew how to prepare them.
Today, things are different. We know with good preparation, adults living with ASD can go on to live independent and fulfilled lives. As a parent, you want to begin preparing your children for adult life early by encouraging and helping them become active members of a community.
Why Parents Should Begin Early
Dealing with the social, sensory and other daily issues that often accompany ASD is not easy. Rather than see their child upset, angry or frustrated, parents may find it easier to allow their child to seclude themselves instead of pushing them to interact. While this may feel beneficial, it’s only a short-term solution to avoid immediate discomfort or anxiety.
In the long-term growing up in isolation is not healthy or safe for the child. As a parent of a child with ASD, you’ll want to take action early, here’s why:
- Heighten safety: You want your child to get to know people, learn how to communicate and become skilled at knowing when and how to ask for help. Additionally, others will know how to help if the time ever arises. This is especially important down the road because at some point an adult living with autism will want to be more independent. What would happen if a difficult or harmful situation were to arise?
- Build awareness: The more active children with ASD are in the community, the more society will come to understand the challenges people with autism face. Instead of ASD being an unknown or diagnosis that people shy away from, awareness will increase.
- Rest for the parent: With other people involved to interact and help, parents have an opportunity to take some well-deserved breaks. Being able to take care of yourself is important and you’ll need the respite so you can take better care of your child, yourself and other family members.
- Eventual independence: Children don’t stay young forever. The more comfortable children become in their community, the easier it is for them to transition to independence. They’ll join other adults living with ASD, going on to live happy lives with the highest level of independence they can handle.
While your child is in school, their IEP, 504, and support team are a great safety net. However, once school is finished, it’s not so easy. As a parent, you’ll probably find yourself doing most of the work. By placing effort to get your child to be more community-oriented when they are younger, you can avoid bearing the burden since you’ll still have support teams to help you.
Ways To Get Children With ASD To Be More Social
To get your child more comfortable being in the community, you can take it in steps or through whatever method is most comfortable with to start. Ways you can get your child to be more social include:
- Facebook/social media: Studies suggest most people with autism want to connect with others in meaningful ways. Social media is one outlet they often find comfort. Since many children with ASD are very comfortable using technology, this may be an appealing way to begin to connect with the outside world.
- Church/community center: By joining a local church and/or community center, both you and your child can connect with caring people who support one another. In addition to receiving support, your family can also offer it to others in need. Additionally, your child gains the opportunity to learn how to help others through being active in these group settings.
- A literal center: Literal centers can teach the skills needed to live and work as an independent adult. For instance, in Dallas, one couple launched the visionary idea to create a “transition” community to help young adults learn how to become independent.
- Local autism society: Connecting with a local group who understands the daily challenges people with autism face. Learn many ways to support your child and help transition to adulthood.
- Lexington Services: Our programs are uniquely tailored to help people with autism and their families with the individualized support they need. Adults living with ASD face challenges other people may not understand. We can help in a variety of ways.
You may find convincing your child to be more engaged is pretty challenging. It probably won’t be easy getting started. Your child may give you much resistance. If and when this happens, positive reinforcement may help you to get your child on track to increase comfort levels and become more community-minded.
The more you commit to building community, the better off your child will be in the long-term.
How To Get Your Child To Be More Engaged With Others
As a parent, you’ll want your children to gain new experiences to enrich their lives and create happiness. By actively encouraging your child to engage with others, they’ll eventually become more comfortable with socialization. You can get them started on this path by:
- Deciding which communities your child would do well to participate in.
- Figuring out any possible difficulties they’ll face interacting in those communities.
- Helping your child understand those difficulties and showing how they can be mitigated.
- Getting them out into the community!
Without external support in the community, many adults living with ASD find increased difficulties. Getting your child engaged and comfortable in community-oriented settings early on will help them better prepare for eventual adulthood.
As you know, living with ASD has its rough days. You don’t have to prepare for the future alone, we can help. At Lexington Services, we have the knowledge, skills and resources to help guide you. Our staff is equipped and committed to providing both children and adults the services they need to live happy and productive lives.
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