Taking a child with autism into the community can be a challenge for some families. However, this is possible, with some supports and considerations in place. Before heading out, I encourage you to think about the following:
- Have a tag or bracelet with your child’s diagnosis and your contact details
- Does your child need to be in a gated area?
- Consider a time in the day where there are less crowds to practice the skill
- How long can your child cope in the environment? Start small and build it up.
- What is your transition plan from the car to the community area and back to the car?
- What are possible behaviours that could occur? How can you proactively prevent them? What strategies will you employ if a behaviour occurs?
Start with an activity your child will enjoy to ensure that the experience is positive. If a behaviour does occur, be sure you follow through with what you have said to them. Your child will quickly learn the boundaries of their behaviours if you follow through with your instructions each time. In some situations, it can be hard to ignore the public eye, but you are your child’s biggest advocate and if you do not teach them these skills, nobody will.
Take them out to explore the new sights and sounds. Plan to succeed, as their experiences are dependent on where you take them. Don’t shy away from the great big world! Have fun exploring it with your child.
About the author:
Joanne Stephen is a Senior Speech Pathologist and Program Coordinator at AEIOU Foundation. With over eight years of autism-specific experience, Jo specialises in language therapy, articulation therapy, mealtimes management, and behaviour management. She is driven to provide training and support to therapists at AEIOU foundation and within the broader community and implement intervention based on the science of behavioural analysis and provide education on the effective outcomes this approach facilitates.